The Library provides access to its collection to all Australians through services to users in the main building and nationally through online information services. The Library provides reference and lending services to both onsite users and to those outside Canberra, via online services and the digitisation of selected resources from the Australian Collection. The Library also delivers a diverse annual program of exhibitions and events.
In 2011–12, the Library will:
- complete construction of a Treasures Gallery, which will enable the Library to permanently display its iconic, rare and important collection items to the public
- commence work on the integration of the Main and Newspapers and Microforms reading rooms
- implement improved systems and workflows to enhance the supply of copies of collection material to users.
Complete construction of a Treasures Gallery, which will enable the Library to permanently display its iconic, rare and important collection items to the public.
Many of the Library’s greatest treasures, from James Cook’s Endeavour Journal to Edward Koiki Mabo’s papers and the original draft of Waltzing Matilda, are on permanent display in the new Treasures Gallery. A diverse selection from the Library’s overseas collections is also showcased.
The successful opening was a significant moment in the Library’s history and was the culmination of over ten years of work. It would have been impossible without the support of
the Australian Government and the generosity of supporters, who helped the Library to raise over $3 million to fund the building of the gallery.
Commence work on the integration of the Main and Newspapers and Microforms reading rooms.
In June 2011, following completion of renovations in the Main Reading Room associated with the construction of the Treasures Gallery, the next stage of reading room improvements was planned to be the integration of the Newspapers and Microforms Reading Room, moving it from the current location on Lower Ground 1 to the Main Reading Room. After further consideration, it has been decided instead to prioritise integration of special collections reading rooms. As a first stage, in October 2011, the Pictures and Manuscripts reading rooms were integrated into a renovated reading room, providing a single service point on Level 2 for access to these collections. In January 2012, work began on the feasibility of developing an enlarged integrated reading room for access to rare and special collection materials, including manuscripts, pictures, maps, rare books, sheet music, ephemera and oral history recordings. The decision was taken to locate the new reading room on Level 1, in compliance with the provisions of the Strategic Building Master Plan. A design brief for the new reading room has been completed.
Implement improved systems and workflows to enhance the supply of copies of collection material to users.
A major project to redevelop Copies Direct, the online requesting service for clients wishing to order copies of collection material, was undertaken. The redeveloped service is easy to use, has improved functionality, including a shopping-cart facility for multiple item orders, and better security for online payment. The redevelopment has also improved workflow processes for staff. Since the redevelopment, almost 10,000 Copies Direct orders have been placed and the new service has received an overwhelmingly positive response from users.
Issues and Developments
A major project to transfer pre-2010 Australian print collections into separate sequences for monographs and journals was completed, resulting in compaction of collections and more efficient use of available onsite storage space. The project has created enough additional storage space in the main building to defer the requirement for an extension to the Library’s offsite facility in Hume until at least 2015.
A quality assurance review of the Ask a Librarian enquiry service showed strong adherence to the Library’s performance guidelines, with 98 per cent of the responses judged as using ‘excellent or good’ language and tone, 95 per cent providing an ‘excellent or good’ answer, 94 per cent meeting the one-hour time limit for preparing responses and 96 per cent being answered within a week (exceeding the Service Charter guideline of 90 per cent). These results suggest that users benefit from a consistent-quality service delivered from staff answering research and information enquiries in different branches across the Library.
A new inventory management system was implemented in the Bookshop and Sales and Promotion sections. The Library Bookshop refurbishment and upgrade of the online shop has contributed to an increase in sales over the previous year.
The Library published 23 new titles promoting the Library’s collection. The titles are sold through more than 1,650 outlets in Australia and New Zealand and online. The book accompanying the exhibition, Handwritten: Ten Centuries of Manuscript Treasures from Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, was represented in the weekly Nielsen Top 20 sales list for Independent Booksellers on six occasions and the print run of 5,000 sold out. Two previously published titles received national recognition:
- author Jenny Gall and Joanna Karmel, Senior Editor, Publications, won the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Barbara Ramsden Award, which acknowledges the combined effort of author and editor for a book of quality writing, for In Bligh’s Hand: Surviving the Mutiny on the Bounty
- extracts from Australian Backyard Explorer by Peter Macinnis have been selected for use in a Primary English Teaching Association Australia publication that supports primary school educators of English and literacy across the curriculum.
The Library’s Volunteer Program expanded with the opening of the Treasures Gallery and the Exhibition Gallery in late 2011. Volunteers assist the Library by providing daily gallery tours, as well as behind-the-scenes and building-art tours, providing front-of-house assistance on weekends and public holidays and working on a range of other projects.
Volunteers make a significant contribution to improving access to the collection. In 2011–12, for example, a volunteer with specialist aviation experience completed a data spreadsheet of over 70,000 aerial photographs, enabling the information to be accessed through the Library’s catalogue. Through this and other volunteer projects, the Library can now provide catalogue access to over 800,000 Australian, Papuan and Antarctic aerial images, exposing previously hidden collection material and resulting in higher use of the collection.
Some 30 projects aimed at improving access to the collection and streamlining workflows were carried out during the year, with the assistance of one-off project funding. These included:
- preparing pictures for digitisation
- creating online lists to aid discovery of some high-profile performing-arts ephemera
- digitising 140,000 pages of oral history transcripts, which can now be delivered electronically, rather than as photocopies
- trialing digitisation and delivery of non-English-speaking community newspapers
- developing system applications and processes to allow staff to undertake maintenance of the Library Management System without the need for IT support
- converting the Chinese card catalogue entries for access through the online catalogue
- delivering a standards-based IT project that enables interoperability between the inter-library loans management system and the catalogue and eliminates the need for double-keying records in both systems
- producing a series of online instructional videos answering frequently asked questions about Library services
- undertaking a detailed review of the Libraries Australia business environment
- identifying a suitable platform to record, maintain and interrogate information about over 400 potential contributors to Trove
- reviewing the file formats used in physical format digital publications in the Library’s collection, with a view to documenting characteristics.
All the projects achieved their aims and enabled important progress in priority areas of activity.
The completion of projects to catalogue several large collections improved access for users. Completed projects included the Riley Collection of material about the Australian labour movement from the 1890s to the 1960s, the Symphony Australia Collection of Australian musical works from 1912 to the 1970s and the Marcie Muir Collection of Australian children’s literature.
As part of the ongoing program to improve workflows and processes that support collection processing and cataloguing, the Library has started to use publisher-generated bibliographic data, instead of recreating this data. Publishers and distributors produce data routinely to manage stock. The data is compliant with ONIX (Online Information eXchange), an international standard for representing and communicating book industry product information in electronic form. A number of Australian publishers have agreed to provide ONIX records for forthcoming publications for use in the Library’s catalogues. The Library will seek to broaden the program to include more publishers, as it offers productivity savings and is an efficient way to collaborate with the publishing sector.
Through the Australian Newspaper Digitisation Program, the Library has digitised over seven million newspaper pages, consisting of almost 70 million articles. This year, the number and range of regional newspaper titles has been greatly expanded to include titles such as The Singleton Argus and The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate (NSW); The Zeehan and Dundas Herald (Tas.); The Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser and Charleville Times (Qld); Warrnambool Standard and The Colac Herald (Vic.); Border Watch (SA) and The Daily News (WA). Two hundred and eighty individual newspaper titles have now been digitised and are feely available for all Australians to search online.
The number of organisations that contribute funding towards digitising local newspapers continues to grow. In 2011–12, a consortium of 11 New South Wales public libraries contributed funding, in addition to:
- Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office
- State Library of Western Australia
- State Library of Victoria
- Western Plains Cultural Centre (Dubbo)
- Hawkesbury Library Service
- Ballarat and District Genealogical Society
- Stonnington History Centre (Melbourne)
- Gilgandra Shire Council
- Friends of Battye Library (WA).
A statement of acknowledgment is made available from every related page and article view in Trove.
During 2011–12, the Library undertook a focused project to trial the digitisation of non-English-speaking community newspapers. The following titles were selected:
- Adelaider Deutsche Zeitung (1851–1862)
- Süd-Australische Zeitung (1859–1874)
- Il Giornale Italiano (1932–1940)
- Meie Kodu (1949–1954), which was generously funded by the Estonian Archives in Australia.
Following a community led online fundraising campaign, on International Women’s Day (8 March 2012), the Library launched digitised issues of The Dawn: A Journal for Australian Women, Australia’s first feminist journal.
Throughout the year, 16,236 items were digitised, drawn from pictures, maps, manuscripts, music and printed material. Significant items included:
- a selection of early Canberra maps, in anticipation of the Centenary of Canberra
- a selection of First and Second World War maps
- 230 Japanese woodblock kuchi-e prints
- Symphony Australia concert touring schedules and itineraries
- the Peter Dombrovskis archive of 3,580 photographs of Australian wilderness landscapes
- a collection of hotel, cruise ship and Christmas menus.
The Library acquired many interesting and significant materials during the year. A selection of notable acquisitions is listed in Appendix J.
Physical collection items delivered to users [#]
Website access—pageviews [#] (millions)
Key performance indicators
Collection access—Service Charter [%]
National collection delivered [% growth]
Website access—pageviews [% growth]
Figure 3.3: Number of Physical Collection Items Delivered to Users
The target was not met. A matching increase in use of online resources suggests users prefer the immediacy and convenience of digital collections. Increased charges for inter-library loans and document supply also contributed to this decline.
The target was not met.
The Service Charter standards for reference enquiries responded to, collection delivery and website availability were achieved.
Figure 3.4: Website Access—Number of Pageviews
The target was not met. While the use of the Library’s website has not declined, for the first time the projected annual growth (seven per cent) in access to the Library’s online services through the website was not achieved. The reduced overall growth is a result of a substantial reduction (approximately 40 per cent) in internet search engine referrals to the Library catalogue. The Library continues to see strong growth in the use of Trove (up some 30 per cent) and generally steady growth in other online services. Modest growth of seven per cent has been forecast for the next few years and it should be noted that the Library’s website is heavily used compared to those of other libraries and government departments.
The target was not met.