Author: Duncan


Meeting minute books are a fundamental part of any organisation’s history. They often serve as the only formal records that narrate the story of decisions, actions, and discussions spanning years, emphasizing the importance of digitising minute books.

They are crucial for maintaining transparency, accountability, and historical continuity. Without proper preservation, these collections risk being lost forever.

However, as we look at minute books from the early 1900s to the late 1990s, we encounter a unique set of challenges in preserving them. Traditional handwritten notes in large ledger-like books, known as “minute books,” present a daunting task when it comes to storage, accessibility, and preservation, particularly in Australia’s harsh climate conditions.

In this article, we explore the journey of a local Queensland council that decided to take a bold step in preserving these vital documents through digitisation.


The motivation for digitising

The council understood that the need to preserve these valuable meeting minute books for future generations was paramount. The council’s journey into digitising minute books was driven by several factors, but one series of unfortunate events was really the catalyst that drove the council to look for a digitising solution.

In the late 2000s, a number of councils across Queensland were amalgamated. During this time, three particular councils in the South East of Queensland were brought together to form one council.

As a result, the minute books from these three councils needed to be collected and all stored in one facility together. They found an entirely new location that was large enough to accommodate the plethora of minute books that were now sitting under one council’s ownership.

To ensure the longevity of the meeting minutes, the council had a specialist come in and assess the space, ensuring that humidity was within the 45% to 55% range, and it was adequately ventilated. For many years, these minute books were kept in pristine condition.

However, due to an equipment failure that was irreparable, another new location needed to be sought out for storage. Once again, a suitable venue was found, shelving was installed and the minute books were transferred to the new facility. Disaster struck yet again, after a few years, when the air conditioning unit failed, resulting in a huge mold outbreak in the facility.

In an effort to recover the precious minute books, the council sought professional services to decontaminate the records, page by page, which was an arduous and costly process.

The council experienced first hand the potential for environmental damage during the mold outbreak, and the final decision for digitising minute books came from the acknowledgment that physical minute books were at risk. This underscored the importance of transitioning to a digital preservation strategy, in order to protect against future disasters.


Why scanning was the preferred preservation method

Among various preservation methods, scanning emerged as the most suitable choice for the team. Scanning offered a practical solution to the challenges posed by this media type. It allowed for the transformation of physical meeting minutes into digital, searchable PDF files, making them easily accessible now and into the future.

Another significant motivator for digitisation was the council’s interaction with Queensland State Archives (QSA). QSA not only plays a pivotal role in determining which records need to be classified as “protected records”, but their archival intakes of Council Minute books for permanent storage are only periodical.

QSA follows a structured process where Minute books are accepted during specific intake periods. However, for agencies, getting their collections accepted during these intake periods can be a complex task. This is because Government agencies across Queensland vie for the opportunity for QSA to preserve their historical documents.

The council’s preservation strategy involved a gradual transfer of minute books. When one series of minute books had been digitised, they would immediately begin the process of aligning with QSA’s intake periods. This approach elongated the engagement timeframe and allowed them to be well-prepared and organised for the transfer.  This meant the Council was ready when the short window of opportunity presented itself.


The importance of digitising

Digitising minute books offered flexibility and budget-friendly solutions that aligned with the council’s needs and resources, removing the anxiety associated with an already busy workforce with a large scale project all up front. The digitising process was planned out in a structured way, ensuring a smooth transition from physical to digital across the entire collection.

Through scanning to PDF files in a QSA compliant way, the historical collection was able to be ingested into QSA’s electronic storage facility. QSA actively promotes digitisation and provides agencies with guidelines to make this process efficient. By digitising minute books, the council transformed the way these records are accessed and utilised. Here are some of the key advantages they realised through scanning:


Digitising minute books enable them to be easily accessible through the QSA’s online portal. This means that, council members, staff, and the public can access the minutes from anywhere, at any time. This improves transparency and allows for more informed decision-making.


Digitised minute books are published as searchable PDFs, making it easier to find specific information within minutes. This saves time and effort compared to manually searching through physical books.


Scanning ensures the long-term preservation of council meeting minute books. Digital copies can be stored securely and backed up to prevent loss or damage. This guarantees that the collections will be available for future reference.


Digitised minute books eliminate the need for physical handling and manual transcription. This saves time and resources, allowing council members and staff to focus on more important tasks.


Digital copies of council meeting minutes can be easily shared and used collaboratively, by authorised parties. This promotes efficient communication and collaboration among council members and staff.


The council’s decision in digitising minute books demonstrates their commitment to preserving their history and ensuring the accessibility of important records. The Council leaned upon Avantix expertise in digitisation technology to provide guidance to scan bound books on a large scale and create high quality, compliant searchable PDF files.

Digitising minute books not only safeguards against potential disasters, but also makes historical information readily available to those who seek it. As councils continue to grapple with the challenges of preserving their history, digitisation remains a practical and essential solution for safeguarding vital records.


Avantix is excited to be attending Rimpa Live 2023, the premier event for records and information management professionals in Australia. Join us and other industry experts to discuss the latest innovations in the document management landscape. Avantix will be showcasing a range of solutions, including document scanning on our OPEX Falcon+ equipment and microfilm scanning on the FlexScan Muti-Format production scanner. We will be there to answer any questions you may have on the different media types which can be found in older record collections.

Daniel Wong, our new business development manager, will explore the theme “Elevating your physical records to be first among equals, in the digital environment.” In this presentation, Daniel will discuss the importance of maintaining physical records in the digital age and share insights into how digitisation can streamline their accessibility.”

Avantix empowers businesses to realise the benefits of digital information, reducing time to locate information and supporting better decision making. We specialise in enterprise scanning projects covering a wide range of source media: documents, large format, microfilm, photographic and bound books.


We look forward to meeting you at our booth at Rimpa Live 2023 Oct 3-6, RACV Royal Pines Resort, Queensland!

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How frustrating is it when you need geological data that you know has been gathered in the past but is unavailable to you when you need it? Imagine if previously collected data was lost and the cost of replacing it ranged from $50,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That is a common experience in the mining industry. In order to deliver a cost efficient analysis, it is imperative to locate and convert all existing hard copy documentation and integrate it with your digital data.

Measured Group is a mining consultancy specialising in geological modelling, resource estimation, mine planning, exploration services and geotechnical support. As a consulting group, Measured rely heavily on being able to access historical data. This is the foundation upon which they build modelling and guide future decisions for exploration and mine development. Accuracy is essential.

With global experience in due diligence, feasibility studies, mine planning and ore reserves estimates, the stakes in all of Measured Group’s work is high.

With each new project relying on historically collected paper-based data, Measured Group engage Avantix to digitise the data.

“Avantix undertakes painstaking digitisation of plans, maps, down-hole geophysics and drill logs,” says Avantix CEO, Duncan Lord. “The data is incorporated into geological-specific databases.

If data accessibility and accuracy are integral to your business, contact Avantix today.

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Core samples drilled prior to a decade ago are exclusively available in non-digital format. This might be on thermal paper or plastic film, both of which are vulnerable to deterioration, or on long unwieldy lengths of paper. Each of which contain valuable data needed to be extracted manually, before being useful for future strategy decisions.

“Paper is an impediment,” says Lyon Barrett, Measured Group’s Principal Geologist – Managing Director, whose work is predominantly in the coal industry but includes other commodities such as iron sands, copper and gold.


“Dark Data is when you know you have information there but, as you can’t put your hands on it, it can’t be used,” says Lord.

The challenges of “Dark Data” are not limited to the fields of geology and mining. Most businesses have data that is inaccessibly filed away (carefully or otherwise). Data that isn’t used, or isn’t accessible when needed, may as well not exist.

Digitisation of paper files can bring dark data into the light. Even without the huge costs involved in the mining industry, replication of data collection can be an expensive endeavour for businesses in all fields.

Despite these benefits, if a mining company has not previously experienced finding and then digitising dark data, understanding its importance is not always instinctive. “It can sometimes be hard to quantify the value that it will deliver,” says Barrett.

During the Measured Group consultation process it is necessary to identify if there is existing archival data and then establish its usefulness towards an up to date analysis. Referring to a recent engagement with a global mining company that tracked down archival material in a shipping container, Barrett says: “We were impressed with the way they listened to our questions and supported the digitisation initiative.”

The end result for this project? “The front-end costs associated with finding and digitising the lost data likely cost less than a tenth of any drilling that would otherwise have needed to happen,” says Barrett. “The knowledge of the mineral deposits was improved to the point that they were able to make fully informed decisions about how proceed.”


Measured Group have come to rely on Avantix to convert these hard-copy graphs into digital data. These logs are scanned and each curve is converted into a LAS data, allowing easy importation into the modelling software.

“Avantix and Measured Group have worked together on four or five projects already,” says Barrett. “Avantix are very responsive; they turn data around as quickly as can be done. I’d always use them, as they always deliver.”

Avantix are ready to guide you through your digitisation process. Call us today to discuss your needs.

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