Information Technology

Information technology (IT) is used to facilitate and support the development of new online services and to ensure that these services are cost effective, reliable and responsive.

In recent years, the Library has developed and improved the Library’s Trove service, which supports discovery and use of collections held by Australian libraries and collecting institutions. The Library has also commenced a major project to replace systems used to build, preserve and deliver digital collections. IT and communication infrastructure is provided inhouse.

Digital Library Infrastructure Replacement Project

During 2012–13, the Digital Library Infrastructure Replacement project moved from planning and procurement to its implementation phase. Milestones achieved during this period include:

  • implementing pilots of the digitisation workflow system and digital preservation repository products selected during the project’s procurement phase
  • commencing the first implementation stage, which will deliver a system to support the digitisation, management and delivery of published books and journals in the Library’s collection. This system will also support bit-level preservation of the digital collections
  • completing an external health check review of the project. This review endorsed the project approach and progress, and no significant weaknesses with the current management or governance were identified.

Infrastructure and Services

During 2012–13, the Library’s digital collection increased in size by approximately 53 per cent, and now exceeds 2.5 petabytes of storage (see Figure 2.3). The major contributor to storage growth continues to be the digitisation of Australian newspapers (see Figure 2.4). Australian newspapers (62 per cent) dominate storage requirements, followed by archived web pages (25 per cent).

Figure 2.3: Growth in Digital Collection Storage, March 2004 to 30 June 2013

Area graph showing the National Library of Australia's increasing digital storage requirements from 2004 to 2013

Figure 2.4: Digital Collection Storage by Material, 30 June 2013

Pie chart showing the National Library of Australia's digital storage requirements based on media type

Note: Total of 99.8% due to rounding.

The Library also supports substantial infrastructure to enable the discovery of, and access to, its own and other collections. Figure 2.5 shows the growth in raw transaction load on the Library’s web services since 2000–01. Driven by the use of digitised Australian newspapers, Trove continues to experience strong growth in web activity.

Figure 2.5: Use of Web Services, 2000–01 to 2012–13

Area graph showing the National Library of Australia's increasing webserver requests from 2001 to 2013

In 2012–13, the Library updated the design of its website (nla.gov.au), with significant changes being made to the homepage, including a more streamlined layout and a fresher and more accessible colour palette. In accordance with the Government’s Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy, the Library continued to improve accessibility of its website. Using a sustainable semi-automated process for the first time, the Library’s 2011–12 Annual Report was presented in a format accessible to people with disabilities using screen readers. With the exception of a few financial documents that, for auditing purposes, could only be rendered as Adobe PDF documents, the entire report was made available in HTML. An accessibility audit of the Library’s website found substantial compliance with Level AA Success Criteria of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, thereby allowing more engagement by users with disabilities. Outstanding issues to be addressed include transcripts to accompany audio-only podcasts, non-standard forms from third parties, and text alternatives to some images.

Reliable IT infrastructure is essential to the Library’s digital storage and access services. Table 2.6 shows the average availability of ten key service areas. The target availability of 99.5 per cent was not met for all services, the major contributing factor being an extended outage in September 2012 due to the failure of a primary server. However, the new disaster recovery site worked very well throughout the ordeal, and provided excellent communications to the public and staff, augmented by the use of Facebook and Twitter. Public response was positive and, although users were disappointed that services were unavailable, they were understanding as the recovery work was performed.

Table 2.6: Availability of Ten Key Service Areas, 2012–13

Service

Availability (%)

Network

99.8

File and Print

99.9

Email

100.0

Website

98.9

Integrated Library Management System

99.7

Digital Library

99.0

Corporate Systems

100.0

Document Supply

99.5

Libraries Australia

98.4

Trove

98.4

A number of heavily used online services—namely Trove and Libraries Australia—also experienced periods of slow performance or reduced functionality during periods of high load from web-based users and web bots. In 2012–13, the Library commenced redevelopment projects for Trove Newspapers and Libraries Australia Search, involving updates to the software and hardware infrastructure supporting these services. These improvements will provide the capacity and scalability needed to support current and future demands.

Under its Strategic Asset Management Program, the Library continued to replace and upgrade IT infrastructure, including:

  • commissioning an additional petabyte of disk storage to support the digital collections using Isilon storage systems. This approach is expected to greatly reduce the chance of a single point of failure
  • upgrading the Library’s data backup system, including support for de-duplication technology to reduce backup size and performance time, as well as support for disk-based archives to reduce recovery time
  • upgrading the paid printing system for reading room users. Patrons can now print more easily over the wireless network and can charge their cards using EFTPOS
  • doubling the number of systems managed as virtual servers, including the extension of the server cluster to support digital library systems
  • implementing Microsoft Exchange 2010 and deploying Microsoft Lync communication services
  • replacing a number of inhouse systems supporting grant-based activities with a single commercial grants management system
  • implementing a more robust management system for short-term laptop loans to staff.

In response to the expected application to the Library of the Government’s Protective Security Policy Framework and its Information Security Manual, the Library:

  • completed a review of current IT policy and procedures
  • redrafted seven out of eight required IT security policies
  • implemented an internal information security website to assist staff to understand and manage their IT security responsibilities.

During 2012–13, the Library achieved modest improvements in energy consumption through:

  • refreshing and consolidating storage systems, which resulted in a material reduction in power consumption and heat load in the computer room
  • improving the automatic shutdown of public PCs to reduce power consumption when reading rooms are closed.

IT development activities aimed at improving services and operations included:

  • release of Forte, the Library’s first mobile application for accessing its digital collection, which provides access to the digitised sheet music collection
  • enhancements to Libraries Australia and the Integrated Library Management System, Copies Direct and other systems, to support changes in bibliographic records that flow from the introduction of Resource Description and Access by Australian libraries
  • enhancements to Trove
  • development of a Drupal-based service to enable Reader Services staff to maintain and enhance online research guides for users.