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Category Administration and Management
Type Procedure
Approved by Registrar and Secretary to the Council, 13 August 2020
Date Procedure Took Effect 13 August 2020
Last approved revision 12 December 2022
Sponsor Registrar and Secretary to the Council
Responsible officer Head of Corporate Records


To describe the process to digitise physical source records with the intention of destroying them after digitisation and retaining the records in electronic form only. It is recommended that these Procedures also be followed where records are digitised with retention of source physical files.

Organisational scope

These procedures apply to all University of Otago staff, including persons contracted to the University either directly or in partnership with it.

The procedures apply to all records owned by the University, which fall under the coverage of the Public Records Act (PRA) 2005 and which are therefore subject to the conditions of the Contract and Commercial Law Act (CCLA) 2017.


Bit Depth
The number of bits (zeroes or ones) used to describe the colour of each pixel. Bit depth can range from 1 bit up to 48 bits. Greater bit depth allows a greater range of colours or shades of grey to be represented by a pixel.
Compression involves a set of algorithms designed to reduce the size of an image for storage or transmission. Lossless is when no information is irretrievably lost. Objects where lossless compression was applied are identical to the original source after they are un-compressed, i.e. no bits (or information) are lost.
The process of converting hard copy, or other non-digital, records into a digital format such as taking digital photographs of physical source records or imaging physical source records (scanning).
A set of data that describes and gives information about other data.
Quality Assurance
Checking the operation and output of digitisation processes against agreed benchmarks to ensure their authentic reproduction and functional equivalency to the physical source record.
Trusted System
An approved University system or repository that provides reliable data protection consistent with normal and prudent IT practice.
Unique or Rare Information
Information of importance to our national or cultural identity; of historical significance; and of cultural value to Māori and their identity.


1. General provisions

  1. Authorisation is given to retain digitised public records in electronic form only if the digital reproduction is created in such a way as it can demonstrate the following:
    1. functional equivalency to the physical source record, and
    2. that its integrity and accessibility will be managed in an acceptable way.
  2. A digital reproduction is considered to be functionally equivalent if:
    1. the integrity is preserved by remaining complete and unaltered, and
    2. it is readily accessible and usable for as long as is legally and administratively required for subsequent reference (see the Digitisation Checklist for specific criteria on when a digitised record is considered to be complete, unaltered, accessible and useable).
      Digitisation Checklist (Excel)
  3. The following records may not be fully digitised with no source records retained:
    1. unique or rare information (see the Definitions section for more information), and
    2. all information created prior to 1946.
  4. Use of the mandatory Digitisation Checklist will assist with compliance with these procedures.
  5. Preference should be given to the use of the University's existing in-house digitisation service: Uniprint, which offers a commercial digitisation service to both University departments and external customers.

2. Meeting the conditions to keep records in electronic form only after digitisation

  1. The digitised reproductions are to be stored and managed in a trusted University system for the duration of their retention period.
  2. The digital reproductions are to be locatable and retrievable through the use of adequate and searchable metadata (see the Digitisation Checklist for specific criteria on the minimum metadata required).
    Digitisation Checklist (Excel)
  3. The Digitisation Checklist must be completed and forwarded to Corporate Records Services for retention.

3. Minimum technical specifications

As a rule, the highest technical specifications that can realistically be supported should be used. The following are the minimum recommended specifications to be followed:

Bit depthResolution File FormatCompression
8 bit Greyscale or bi-tonal 300 ppi (pixels per inch) PDF/A
JPEG 2000
Lossless compression
24 bit Colour

4. Quality assurance

  1. Quality assurance procedures are to be agreed and documented in the Digitisation Checklist prior to the digitisation process.
  2. If digitisation is outsourced, quality assurance procedures should be agreed with service providers prior to commencement.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Legislation and Standards

Policies and Guidelines

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this procedure or need further clarification, contact:

Corporate Records Services

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