1.1 The present collections of the National Library of Australia, which was established as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library in 1901, are built on several great formed collections relating to Australia and the Pacific, among them those of Edward Augustus Petherick (1847–1917), Sir John Alexander Ferguson (1881–1969) and Sir Rex de Charembac Nan Kivell (1898–1977). The passage of the Copyright Act 1912, containing legal deposit provisions, also laid the basis for a strong collection of Australian publications. The collections of printed material relating to Australia and the Pacific have been supported by the active collecting of maps, music and manuscripts. Pictorial works in the form of paintings, drawings, prints and photographs also constitute an important part of the Australiana collection as do oral history sound recordings.

Aim of the Collection Development Policy

1.2 This collection development policy statement defines the scope and nature of the collecting of Australian materials within the Library with a view to providing:

  • a practical interpretation of the Library’s legal obligations under the National Library Act 1960 with regard to Australian materials;
  • a public statement on its current collecting policies for Australian;
  • a practical guide for the staff of the Library to assist in the selection of library materials; and
  • a guide for other Australian libraries and collecting institutions, to enable a greater degree of cooperation in the development of collections in the national interest.

1.3 Chapters 2-8 outline the nature and scope of Australian collecting, including print publications, electronic resources, manuscripts, oral history and folklore recordings, pictures and dance. The Library has particular strengths in cartographic materials and music and these are described in chapters 9 and 10.

Scope of Collecting

1.4 The collections encompass print publications, original materials and electronic resources. Print publications include monographs, serials, newspapers, ephemera, music scores and sheet music, atlases and sheet maps. Original materials are unpublished and include manuscripts and private archives, pictures, oral history and folklore recordings. Electronic resources include digitised copies of items in the Library’s collection; ‘born digital’ material such as electronic journals, digital images, oral history recordings and email files; websites which have never existed in print form; commercially published online electronic resources; and physical format electronic material such as CD-ROMs, DVDs and floppy disks.

1.5 In selecting items for the collection, Library staff consider how well the item adheres to the collection development policy. In doing so, they take into account aspects such as the subject area, the geographical coverage, the cost, the physical characteristics of the item, its ongoing need for preservation and its relationship to the existing collection.

1.6 As well as acquiring material to add to its collections, the Library is increasingly providing access to electronic resources to augment the range of information resources available to users. The Library provides links to and subscribes to a number of Australian online indexes, databases, fulltext newspaper and journal services, and Internet sites. Some are freely available to all users wherever they are located while others are restricted by licence conditions and are only available to users in the National Library. These resources complement and at times provide enhanced access to the print collections of the Library. The same principles of selection are followed as for the print collections, and also take into account cost effectiveness and the appropriateness of licence conditions.

Access to Collections

1.7 The Library’s collections are made available for use in a variety of ways. Collection items may be used on the Library premises by anyone who is a registered user of the Library. Items that are particularly rare or valuable, or limited editions, may be subject to use only in a specialist reading room under supervision. In cases where the Library holds both a printed and microfilm copy of a newspaper, serial or monograph, the microfilm copy will be made available.

1.8 Collection items are also lent to other libraries through the Australian interlibrary loan network. Australian monographs may be lent on interlibrary loan except for Australian monographs which are too fragile for loan, belong to one of the Australian formed collections, or are published before 1950 where only one copy is held. The Library purchases second copies of some Australian-published items which it expects to be more heavily used.

1.9 Collection items may be copied in accordance with Australian copyright law. Reproductions of items from the Library’s collections can also be requested by individuals through the Library’s CopiesDirect service

1.10 All material acquired for the Library’s collection is catalogued in conformity with accepted bibliographical standards including the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2), Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) and Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Catalogue records are also added to the Australian National Bibliographic Database (ANBD) available through the Libraries Australia service. Users can search the Library’s catalogue online or as part of Libraries Australia

1.11 In order to increase access to its collections the Library routinely digitises materials and makes digital copies. These digitised resources are searchable through the Library’s online catalogue as well as through specialist resource discovery services, and they are delivered via the Library’s website. They include selected books, pictures, maps, sheet music, oral history recordings, selected manuscripts and newspapers.

Preservation of the Collections

1.12 The Library has a statutory obligation to preserve its Australian collections, whatever their format, as part of Australia’s cultural heritage. At the same time the Library exists to provide access to its collections and services from them. Preservation decisions are guided by the Library’s suite of Preservation Policies

1.13 The Library’s prime preservation responsibilities are to its Australian collections and, in general, preservation treatment programs are directed towards them. A key aim of the Library’s preservation program is to maintain and preserve items consistent with their use and significance to the collection. In taking account of user needs and also the Library’s investment in its collections, preventive preservation measures such as appropriate storage, security and handling are routinely employed for all Library collections.

Discard and Retention of Library Material

1.14 As a legal deposit and research library, the National Library does not generally dispose of items in its collections. Disposal usually only occurs if material has deteriorated to such an extent that it is no longer usable and a surrogate copy has been made, or multiple copies of a publication are held.

1.15 Such disposals are made in accordance with the Library’s Guidelines for the Discard and Retention of Library Materia