National Library of Australia
Trove turned 10 years old on December 2019. Your average 10-year-old bears little resemblance to their baby selves, but surprisingly Trove has not changed much in the last decade. Despite growth spurts, new skills learned, and an ever-bigger circle of friends, Trove is trying to fit into a very old jumper and finding it much too short in the...well, everywhere.
This is changing. From late June 2020, Trove will have more room to grow - to promote new collections, help researchers connect and bring more freely available, digitised items to an increasingly online community. Here’s the story behind some of those changes.
Many family history trails begin outside Australia. Up until recently, if you were after passenger records, correspondence or information relating to Australia but held by a UK organisation, this meant time poring over the handbooks or microfilm of the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP). The AJCP Online Project, which began in 2017 and concludes in 2020, is digitising 5.8 million microfilm images and tens of thousands of pages of descriptive text, providing online access to material previously only available in physical libraries or archives.
These kinds of items – free, online and fully digitised - are coming into Trove at an incredible rate. And demand is rising, as more and more people coming to Trove access online items. Because of this, much of the work being done to upgrade Trove involves strengthening our underlying systems to reliably deliver a growing collection.
Wanted notices for notorious bushrangers, the boom and bankruptcy of all sorts of business, and naturalisation certificates for hopeful new arrivals. Trove’s gazette collection now spans 1832-2012 and is a great resource of official notices for family history research. Most often used as an official counterpart to the more editorial style of historical newspaper articles, they also contain more recent material.
Gazettes have many similarities with Trove’s digitised newspapers - they can be browsed in the same way and can both be corrected so the transcripts match the articles. For this reason, Trove has changed categories (what we used to call “zones”) to include one that combines newspapers and gazettes so they can be searched together. You can still filter your search to include just one of these formats, but there’s now more to explore in one place.
The best part of uncovering a vaudeville star, trailblazing entrepreneur or notorious rogue in your family tree is sharing those discoveries.
Trove has always had Trove Lists – where you can bookmark and organise records and articles and make your lists public to share with other Trove visitors. Trove now has collaborative lists, where friends, family members and fellow researchers can request to join your lists and help build them. The Trove community has asked us for this feature for a long time, and we hope it’ll prove useful for group projects and more. You can also download your lists for offline sharing.
Upgrades to Trove Accounts will give you space to write a biography, including your research interests, share a link to your blog or website and make this information public if you choose. This could potentially connect you with tens of thousands of other Trove visitors with similar interests.
For those in the know, Trove is an essential, even daily, stop on your research journey. However, plenty of Australians still don’t know about us. This is about more than advertising. Over the past few years, we’ve been reaching out to people who aren’t currently using Trove, including teachers, students and people with interests in genealogy and local history that would be well served by our site.
Our research – online surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews – found many people weren’t sure if Trove was for them. They wondered if it was for professional researchers, or government only, or if they’d have to pay to use it. It was difficult for them to understand what was in Trove and were often overwhelmed with the amount of information on each screen. Even our wonderful community of regular visitors weren’t sure if they were getting all they could from Trove, with many telling us they took up to 10 hours of practice before they felt confident using the site.
Changes to Trove’s design and navigation will be most noticeable for current visitors, accustomed to the green and gray that has been Trove’s familiar outfit since 2010. Some changes are to meet accessibility guidelines – our obligation as an Australian Government site. Other changes are to make Trove clearer, brighter, and easier to understand and use for more Australians from a variety of backgrounds.
One of the more exciting changes is how much more space we now have in Trove to provide regularly updated news and information – showing you more of what’s in Trove, our upcoming titles, plus tips and advice. We’re looking forward to sharing more blogs, videos and our Trove Partner collections, as well as resources to assist those who teach others how to use Trove.
We hope that as Trove continues to grow, bringing you new items and ways to explore, our community grows alongside us. That our current community will become more confident and be able to draw from many collections to enhance their research. And more Australians will discover the treasures awaiting them in Trove.