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Daniel Wilksch

How long have you been working at PROV?
Sixteen years.

What is your role at PROV?
I manage PROV’s digitisation program and I work with the metadata that we publish to make finding records easier. Our digitisation program is supported by the efforts of our volunteer team, so I spend time designing programs and processes to make their experiences more rewarding.

How did you get into your current role?
I was recruited to administer the Local History Grants Program whilst I was finishing off my Masters in History. Since then I’ve moved through a number of roles within the organisation that have focused on digital access to records, including putting together online exhibitions and most recently supporting the development of our new integrated search engine.

Why did you want to work at PROV?
Initially I wanted the opportunity to work within the record-keeping community to support the storytelling and collection management projects being undertaken by literally hundreds of small museums and historical societies across Victoria.

From when you arrive at the Victorian Archives Centre in the morning until you leave in the evening, what does a typical day look like?
A typical day will involve at least a couple of meetings with other members of staff on various projects, as well as catching up with volunteers to troubleshoot and provide guidance. On any given day, I write reports and formal documentation, edit text for the website, write scripts to manipulate data and get hands-on with a digitising project. 

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your role?
The most enjoyable aspect of my role is watching a new set of digital images or a website feature appear on our website.  Often we don’t get a chance to properly appreciate the records in our collection until everything comes together in its final form.

What is the most important skill in your role and which do you use everyday?
The most important skill in my role is the ability to translate what it means to do research into the standards and systems of information technology.  The digitising and publishing work we do is designed to help our researchers and the public create meaning from the past for themselves and for other people, so this skill is crucial.

What advice would you give to someone entering the field? What type of background would be most helpful?
When I started working, I had a very narrow conception of what a good career looks like. I have since discovered that meaningful work comes in many forms so being open to what needs to be done and being willing to get outside your comfort zone is important. That said, my role relies on three things: practice in critically reading historical texts – everything from parsing nineteenth-century handwriting to understanding the bureaucratic context and prejudices of the writers; an understanding of how computers and IT systems understand data; and an ability to listen to people and respond constructively to their needs.

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples