In 2015–16, the Library’s priorities were:

  • to continue building the Library’s innovative digital library platform to ensure that Australia’s documentary heritage, in all forms, can be acquired, managed for long-term access, and delivered to and used by the public;
  • when passed, to ensure the successful implementation of legal deposit legislation for digital publications through establishment of appropriate policies, systems and workflows;
  • to issue and implement a revised Collection Development Policy reflecting the Library’s aims for its collections in the digital environment.

Results Achieved

  • To continue building the Library’s innovative digital library platform to ensure that Australia’s documentary heritage, in all forms, can be acquired, managed for long-term access, and delivered to and used by the public

The successful completion of milestones within Stage 4 of the Digital Library Infrastructure Replacement (DLIR) program provided a much-needed boost to the Library’s capacity to manage its digital collections.

A significant milestone was achieved in December 2015 with the release of a new Digital Library Content Management System providing workflows to collect, manage and preserve Australian ebooks, websites, maps, digital pictures, manuscripts and oral history recordings. Successful migration saw over 300,000 digitised items in all these formats moved from older systems to the new Digital Library Content Management System. At that point, the DLIR program shifted focus from replacing end-of-life systems to building new digital collecting capabilities, with the successful launch of an edeposit service supporting new legislation for the deposit of electronic publications. Automated workflows and processes were developed to enable newly received econtent to be automatically managed and preserved, the last and most significant step in ensuring the preservation of digital collections for long-term access.

The Library’s edeposit service provides a web-based publisher portal enabling publishers to quickly and simply upload ebook and periodical publications, thereby meeting their deposit requirements with the Library. Launched on 17 February 2016, the first day of the new legislation, the portal was readily adopted by publishers. An important part of the system design was simplicity and ease of use for publishers, but also the realisation of end-to-end system workflows enabling the automated re-use of publisher metadata for incoming ebooks and ejournals. This minimises the need for manual intervention, saving staff time.

The DLIR program also built faster and simpler harvesting mechanisms to improve web collecting capability. This has significantly improved the ease and speed with which the Library can collect news and simple social media, responding to emerging topics of interest. New interfaces also mean that seed-list harvesting around a particular topic or theme, previously needing IT support, can now be run easily by collecting staff, dramatically expanding the Library’s harvesting capability. New technology to collect content that was previously unobtainable has expanded the range of content captured.

For unpublished digital collections, such as pictures and manuscripts, workflow automation has minimised repetitive data entry tasks and enabled re-use of metadata across related systems. Images are presented on screen in higher resolution and with zooming functionality, so that the user experience is much improved, and there is less need for staff to retrieve fragile, at-risk materials for inspection. The system’s capacity to apply access conditions and metadata at greater levels of granularity has enhanced rights management procedures. 

For oral history materials, the Digital Library Content Management System has more efficient end-to-end business processes, from commissioning and recording content through to accessing existing Oral History and Folklore recordings. More coherent, efficient and flexible delivery of materials that have complex relationships has streamlined access to audio recordings and their time-coded summaries and transcripts. The system has significantly shortened the timeframes required to upload materials for delivery and increased the quantity of materials available online, now approximately 8,000 hours.

In developing systems to collect, describe and make accessible digital content, there was a focus on ensuring minimal handling and data entry. As a consequence, acquiring digital material is faster and easier than print collecting. For example, the deposit and delivery of new serial issues occurs with no intervention from Library staff. In contrast, the Library manually processes print serial issues, with approximately eight full-time equivalent staff employed in acquiring 100,000 serial issues. This opens up opportunities for the Library to pursue further efficiencies in transitioning from print to digital collecting.

The Trove digital library was enhanced to deliver new and existing digitised special collections to users, online and for free. Any member of the public can now view these collections in their web browser at home; use deep zoom to closely examine the images; easily download, print or order high-resolution copies; and share them with social networks. Evidence shows that the up-to-date interface is encouraging researchers and businesses alike to incorporate the Library’s collection items into their work, from a real estate agency’s coffee table book showcasing images of local suburbs to prospective clients to a local government report on an early Māori visit to Parramatta. Users are now also able to download high-resolution out-of-copyright digitised maps. This has contributed to a 60 per cent reduction in mediated order requests for items from the Maps Collection, as people become accustomed to downloading maps directly. Map series indices, systematically added to catalogue records as a geographic aid for users to visually identify maps, are now interactive for digitised maps. This allows online users to navigate from the index to individual images and download as needed.

For the first time, 70,000 historic journal articles from the Library’s collection were made discoverable in Trove at the individual article level. Like the existing digitised newspapers, users can search for a term in the text and click through to read the entire digitised journal online for free. Publications from the First World War are a particular strength. Researchers, family historians and students can now delve into the soldier experience, as mediated by the government (for example, the Anzac Bulletin, a publication issued to members of the Australian Imperial Forces in Great Britain and France from 1916 to 1919) or written by those sent home (for example, Mountain Mists, a monthly magazine published by the convalescent soldiers of Bodington, NSW). This expansion of online full-text content will power future research into Australia’s social, economic and political history by ensuring it is accessible to all Australians, whether they are within the Library’s Canberra reading rooms or offsite anywhere else in the country.

  • When passed, to ensure the successful implementation of legal deposit legislation for digital publications through establishment of appropriate policies, systems and workflows

The Library commenced digital publications under the newly expanded legal deposit provisions in the Copyright Act 1968 on 17 February 2016. At launch, a simple deposit interface was offered to publishers, allowing a new publication to be deposited from anywhere in less than five minutes. 

In the first months post implementation, the Library worked directly with online distributors and large publishers to facilitate streamlined deposit of publications from a cross-section of Australia’s leading publishing houses, including Penguin Random House, Black Inc., Text Publishing and Harlequin. 

Publishers have responded positively to the new requirements and way of depositing. Several have also deposited their backlists. 

Feedback from serial publishers has also been pleasing, with recognition from several that there are benefits in terms of time and money in depositing serial issues online rather than posting print equivalents to the Library.

The first Australian web domain harvest completed under the new legislative provisions also started on 17 February and collected 53 terabytes of data, including 690 million files. 

The successful implementation of an expanded legal deposit scheme has resulted in the preservation of Australia’s digital heritage for current and future generations, as well as a new efficient and cost-effective way for publishers to meet their obligations. By the end of June, the Library had collected 812 ebooks, 35 digital sheet music publications and 121 ejournal titles. 

First use of edeposit service

The first publisher to deposit a book under the new scheme was Penguin Random House Australia, sending an ecopy of Napoleon's Last Island by Tom Keneally quickly and easily through the Library's edeposit service. Filmed as it happened, the seemingly effortless appearance of Napoleon's Last Island in the Library's system seconds after it was deposited brought a spontaneous round of applause from both the assembled Library staff and the excited team at Penguin Random House. 


  • To issue and implement a revised Collection Development Policy reflecting the Library’s aims for its collections in the digital environment

The Library’s revised Collection Development Policy was released in June 2016. It sets out the key principles from which the Library’s decisions to acquire materials flow: why, what, when and how to collect. The Library’s collecting policy has been revised regularly since its inception in 1960. This version departs from previous formats in recognition of the increasing diversity of publishing in both print and digital form and the growing complexity of collection-building choices. It outlines a principles-based approach to collecting, integrating collection of offline and online formats, and providing guidance for allocation of the Library’s acquisition resources. By clearly identifying priorities for collecting activity, the policy allows flexibility within different resourcing situations.

The revised policy sets a new priority to collect more proactively materials created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as to document cultural and social issues of concern to Indigenous Australians, from Indigenous perspectives. 

The Oral History project, Seven Years on: Continuing Life Histories of Aboriginal Leaders re-interviewed several leaders, including psychologist Carmen Cubillo, former politician Aden Ridgeway and educator Linda Ford. Other recordings focused on performing artists in the Kimberley region. The records of the Aboriginal Artists Agency were acquired for the Manuscripts Collection and a notable acquisition for the Pictures Collection was Albert Namatjira’s watercolour of Glen Helen homestead where his family lived and worked. The Library was delighted to receive a gift of 15 carved boab nuts cast in white aluminium, commissioned by Wesfarmers from Kimberley Aboriginal artists to mark the company’s centenary.

Materials relating to Indigenous land and community life were acquired from individuals working on projects with remote communities: for example, Matthew Abbott’s photographs of Western Arnhem Land as part of the Mirarr Rock Art Survey, and Hamish Cairns’ photographs of the community on Palm Island in Queensland. 

Two other notable acquisition publications in the Australian language of Yan-nhangu—Murrunggabu yitjiwalagu dhanguny giyitibu: nhangu dhanguny Murrunggabu Yan-nhangu yan and Murrunggabu yitjiwalagu dhanguny garambakabu: nhangu dhanguny Murrunggabu Yan-nhangu yan—by Laurie Baymarrwana, Laurie Milinditj and Tom Horniblow, were acquired on legal deposit. These books come with a special pen connected to a CD that reads the text aloud. Critically endangered, Yan-nhangu is the traditional language of Murrungga Island in the Crocodile Islands, North East Arnhem Land.

‘Old TI’: Reaching Torres Strait Islander communities

When John Morseu, the Library’s 2015 Indigenous Graduate, created the Library’s first research guide for Torres Strait Islanders to explore their history in the collections, he had little expectation of its scope, impact or transformative power. His ‘Old TI’ project uncovered hundreds of pictures, manuscripts, family letters, oral histories, early forms of Islander writing in English, three regional languages, and old gazettes and newspapers dating from the 1890s to the 1980s. These documented various facets of the Torres Strait, from historical expeditions to a vibrant pearling industry, wartime defence of Australian borders, distinctive Torres Strait Islander forms of Christian worship, and people, places and culture expressed through art, music, dance and stories.

As a Torres Strait Islander whose family heritage is from Darnley Island and a former Thursday Island (TI) resident, John described ‘unravelling these collection gems’ as revelatory. 

‘We know and share our own stories and traditions, orally. But, like most Islanders, I didn’t know these kinds of original materials existed in national cultural institutions. They have changed my thinking, and helped me understand and respect both ‘Old TI’ and contemporary Islander culture as a living fusion of Torres Strait traditions and external influences, with their own integrity and history.’

John’s story grabbed national and international attention. Through Facebook, blogs and sharing sites, the Library’s social media outreach spiked and generated online feedback and collection use from Torres Strait Islanders, with 5,000 members signing in to the TI page in the first month. Media reached far into Torres Strait communities through the Torres Strait Regional Council, the Torres Strait Regional Authority and the local Torres News, and nationally through ABC News, national newspapers and online forums. John, through kinship relationships, shared knowledge about collection material with Torres Strait communities in Cairns and on TI, hosted a visit for people from Saibai Island to view collections, and represented the Library at the National Indigenous Languages and Technology Forum in October 2015, maximising the outreach from what started life as a small graduate project.