The Library provides access to its collections for all Australians through services to users in the main building and nationally through online information services. Its reference and collection delivery services are provided to onsite users, and to those outside Canberra, via online services and the digitisation of selected collection resources. The Library also delivers a diverse annual program of exhibitions and events.

In 2013–14, the Library undertook to:

  • harness new and emerging opportunities in the digital environment—including the National Broadband Network with its reach to regional and remote communities;
  • support research and lifelong learning for all Australians by maximising online access to the Library’s collections and services.

Major Initiatives

Digitisation

The books and journals digitisation program entered a new phase in 2013–14 with the implementation of new systems and workflows. This built capacity for the Library to provide digitised books and journals in a contemporary interface. While only a small number of titles were available at the end of the financial year, books and journals content will grow over time, albeit at a more modest rate than digitised newspapers.

The newspaper digitisation partnership with the State Library of New South Wales continued this year with a further 3.6 million pages of newspapers digitised.

In May, the digitisation of the Fairfax Archive Glass Plate Collection was completed. The archive was a gift from Fairfax Media and the cleaning, re-housing, cataloguing and digitisation of the 18,002 items in the collection commenced in December 2012. All items are now accessible via the Library’s catalogue and Trove, as well as the Fairfax syndication website.

Reading Room Integration

Following extensive consultation with stakeholders and user groups, a detailed design for integrated reading rooms was completed in July 2013. Reader Services staff began the planning process to develop and prepare for new service models and access to collections in order to maintain the excellent services expected by onsite users. The Library anticipates maintaining normal operations throughout construction, with minimal disruption to users and visitors.

Issues and Developments

Manuscripts Collection Management

The project to review and improve workflows associated with the development and management of the Manuscripts Collection continued. An online acquisition portal was developed with associated webpages that provide a better experience for donors and greater efficiency for staff managing offers of Manuscripts Collection material. Procedures to manage incoming material were reviewed, ensuring acquisition and registration of new collections is efficient and timely. 

Online Access to Special Collections

The Library continued its focus on increasing the discoverability of and online access to special collections.

In December, catalogued pictures and manuscripts collections became available for online requesting with the implementation of e-callslips. This innovation means that all Library collection materials with a record in the online catalogue can be requested for use onsite from anywhere and at any time. To improve access to maps published in series, digitised graphical indices were created which identify the individual sheets held by the Library. This work has been completed for 1,200 maps series, enabling many thousands of individual sheets to be requested via e-callslips. 

Fifteen per cent of the Oral History and Folklore Collection (6,896 hours of recordings) is now delivered as full online audio from the Library’s website, Trove and other online aggregators, accompanied by time-pointed summaries and transcripts to assist navigation and discovery, where these exist.

Trove

Trove is now the primary means by which Australians discover and access the Library’s collection, and is a gateway to the collections of contributing Australian galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Newspaper digitisation continues to drive Trove’s content growth. However, strong growth has also been achieved for most resource types, especially archived websites, pictures, music and sound. More than 54 ABC Radio National programs, from Bush Telegraph to the Science Show, are available through Trove. 

Small regional museum collections from across Australia were added to Trove, for example those from the Tweed River Regional Museum and the Berrima District Historical & Family History Society. Specialty collections are also represented, with the Harry Daly Museum (from the Australian Society of Anaesthetists) and the Gold Museum of Ballarat added this year. Trove’s new content extends to corporate collections, such as those from the Grape and Wine Research Development Corporation and Australian Pork, and legal collections, including two Australian open access legal journals and a historic run of the Australian Government Solicitor’s Legal Opinions. 

Trove’s value to the Australian community was affirmed by a formal evaluation of user satisfaction. The study by Gundabluey Research confirmed that Trove has a truly national reach with usage generally proportional to Australian population by state, and by metropolitan, regional or rural place of residence. In addition to quantitative information, more than 200 pages of verbatim comments were captured. Those living in rural and regional areas commented that their sense of community identity was strengthened. Comments were also received on the way in which Trove has transformed the research landscape, making it cheaper and easier, opening up new content and enabling new methods of research. The survey has provided a rich seam of information for planning future development.

Work underway in 2013–14 will go a long way towards meeting system improvement needs identified by respondents. A major project to redevelop the Trove newspapers infrastructure was completed, providing much needed capacity and performance improvements, and some search interface updates. A new Drupal-based Trove Help Centre was also introduced.

Trove now has more than 131,000 registered users and averages 66,000 visitors each day, with much higher peaks (243,246 unique visitors on one day in May) when Trove content is posted by users on large social media sites. Trove users also enhance the service, contributing more than 50,000 lists and close to three million tags to date. Text correction by Trove’s digital volunteers has been valued at $22 million or more than 340 work years since Trove’s launch in November 2009.

Information and Research Services

The Ask a Librarian and Copies Direct services continue to be widely appreciated, particularly in regional Australia. Approximately 30 per cent of the use of both services consistently comes from people living outside the capital cities. In the words of our users: ‘Wow! The response to my enquiry was incredibly helpful and prompt. I’m very thankful for the assistance via email, especially as I am not based in Canberra’ and ‘Thank you so much for your efficient and easy to use online service. I have just updated my expired card, and the process was astonishingly easy and quick. The online services are wonderful and tremendously helpful to me’.

The Library continues to find ways to reach new audiences and encourage use of its information and research services by leveraging digital platforms. Ask a Librarian inquiries are now invited through social media channels. The inquiry service also has a presence within the Australian Wikipedia community through links to Ask a Librarian on every Australian-related article in the encyclopaedia. Work to create an Ask a Librarian presence within Trove, in collaboration with state and territory libraries, also continues.

Online Engagement

In 2013–14, the Library redeveloped its blogs (nla.gov.au/blogs) to better showcase the expertise of staff and the richness of the collection. Seven new blogs were created—Behind the Scenes, Trove, Exhibitions, Treasures, Web Archiving, Preservation and Fringe Publishing. Blogging output has increased fourfold with many more parts of the organisation able to tell their own stories and directly engage with the public.

The Library’s main Twitter account, @nlagovau, is now the seventh most followed account in the APS with over 20,219 followers, up from 14th position in June 2013 when comparative records began, making it the most followed national arts-related account. The Library’s Twitter presence was expanded beyond the existing @nlagovau, @TroveAustralia and @LibrariesAust accounts to include @NLAPandora (web archiving) and @NLAjakarta (Indonesian office). The Library’s Facebook account now has 9,439 Likes. Seven new themes were added to the Library’s Flickr Commons account in 2013–14. These included images on topics such as seasonal and lifestyle themes, as well as images of significant collection items such as the Enemark panoramas and the Library’s Underground Australia book. The total number of Library images now available is 634, and the account receives around 2,000 visits per day. 

The Treasure Explorer education website (treasure-explorer.nla.gov.au) continued to promote the Library’s collection by providing online activities and educational material for students, and resources and lesson plans for teachers. The site, which allows students and teachers to contribute socially and engage with Australian history, is also the portal for material featured in the Treasures Gallery. Treasure Explorer attracted 38,578 unique visitors during the reporting period.

Publications and Exhibitions

The Library published 20 new books promoting the collection, which were sold through more than 1,550 outlets in Australia and New Zealand and also online. Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia, published to accompany the Mapping Our World exhibition, was reprinted twice within the first three months of release, with over 12,000 copies sold. The Big Book of Australian History by Peter Macinnis was selected as an Eve Pownall Notable Book in the 2014 Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards. Both An Eye for Nature: The Life and Art of William T. Cooper by Penny Olsen and The Australian Women’s Weekly Fashion: The First 50 Years by Deborah Thomas with Kirstie Clements sold over 75 per cent of the initial print run within the first four months of release. 

The Mapping Our World exhibition achieved success in the Museums Australia Multimedia and Publication Design Awards 2014, winning the exhibition branding section and sharing the exhibition poster award. Mapping Our World attracted 118,264 visitors and was the most successful exhibition ever held by the Library. The Treasures Gallery, the Library’s permanent display of collection highlights, also continued to be popular with the public, with a 39 per cent increase in visitor numbers compared with last year.

Performance

Performance data relating to access to the collection and service to users is provided as follows:

  • Table 3.4 shows deliverables and key performance indicators relating to access to the national collection and other documentary resources during 2013–14;
  • Figure 3.3 compares delivery of physical collection items to users against targets over the past four years;
  • Table 3.5 compares performance against the Service Charter over the same four-year period.

Table 3.4: Provide Access to the National Collection and Other Documentary Resources—Deliverables and Key Performance Indicators, 2013–14

 

Measure

Target

Achieved

Deliverables 

Physical collection items delivered to users (no.)

175,000

178,432

Key performance indicators

Collection access-—percentage of specified Service Charter standards met (%)

100

100

Figure 3.3: Number of Physical Collection Items Delivered to Users

  Vertical Bar Graph Showing The Number of Physical Collection Items Delivered to Users

The target was exceeded, largely due to the increased use of maps by onsite users. 

Table 3.5: Collection Access—Service Charter (%)

Achieved

Achieved

Target

Target

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

2014–15

2015–16

2016–17

100

100

99

100

100

100

100

100

The Service Charter standards were met.