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PictureVictoria is an Internet based service that allows you to search many pictorial collections simultaneously. The site aims to complement existing portals, such as Picture Australia and the State Library of Victoria's Picture Collection.

When you do a search in PictureVictoria, you are searching the collections of local history societies that have been digitised in collaboration with public libraries. The images will relate to Victoria - people, places, buildings and events. They may be black and white, or colour photographs; drawings; sketches; paintings or maps. All the images searchable through PictureVictoria will shortly also be available via browsing Picture Australia (early 2006).

In your search results you will see sets of 'thumbnail' or preview images. The information regarding the image will be displayed to its right. When you click on the title of the image, you will be provided with a larger image. This image is stored at a web standard of 72 dpi, which is a screen presentation standard, not a printable standard. This discourages the use of PictureVictoria as a direct source of images for reproduction.

While not yet a comprehensive survey of the local history collections held by public libraries across the State, it is hoped that as the database grows it will prove to be a valuable addition to the wealth of local and national history resources accessible online.


Public libraries play a vital role in providing their communities with access to information and knowledge through a wide range of resources and services. They also often act as a key local history repository for their community, collecting material across print, pictorial and other formats. Preserving and providing access to the local history resources collected by Victoria's public libraries has been an area requiring attention for many years.

In an effort to address this issue, funding from Arts Victoria was made available through the Statewide Public Library Development Grants to support a Victorian Local History Project. This project aimed to increase the accessibility of the local history collections held by Victorian public libraries, in particular through the development of a digitisation strategy.

An important early step was the report produced for the Local History Project in March 2001 by Swinburne Library Information Services - Victoria Visualised: the Victorian Local History Digitisation Study

Building on the Swinburne report, further project work followed in 2002 with the core aim of making local history content available online through a common approach. Three main tools were developed:

Further detail from the project, including a range of useful information from policy development to planning considerations for digitisation is available at: http://www.libraries.vic.gov.au/downloads/Victorias_Virtual_Library_Digital_Collection/lochist.htm#about

Many public libraries in Victoria are keen to digitise and catalogue their historical photographs and pictorial material. However, factors such as technical expertise or local server space hamper many libraries in making their collections widely available.

Work in this area often been unsystematic and lacked focus. Certainly to date no centralised system has offered a single, seamless access point to a valuable statewide resource. PictureVictoria has subsequently been developed as a logical progression from the earlier local history project work. The initial proposal was to develop a database where any library can easily catalogue and attach a digistised image. The database would be hosted on a centralised server that all public libraries could progressively add to, enabling individual library services to create links from their own web site back to the main collection of images.

To facilitate this process, an agreement was reached whereby Vicnet would act as the host for the site. This continues Vicnet's role as a significant online resource, supporting public library services and activities through channels such as Victoria's Virtual Library.

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