National Library of Australia

How to search the Gateway

The Australian Libraries Gateway (ALG) offers uers a range of options for accessing information about Australian libraries and cultural institutions:

If there is a library or cultural institution which you know to exist, but can't find on the Gateway - please contact ALG Adminsitration to add a new entry.

Standard and map searching

Use the 'Standard search' option to find a library or cultural institution by name (including National Union Catalogue (NUC) symbol) and/or library type. Enter a keyword or phrase you think is in the institution's name or the name of its parent organisation - you can also try common acronyms or former names. To limit your search, you can also select from the drop-down lists of library types and or Australian state/territory.

For example: To find all libraries in Australia with "environment" in their name, type "environment" in the 'Name' field in 'Standard search' form, leave the default search type as "Keyword", the location filter to 'All' and select the [Search] button. To find all the "Environment Australia" libraries, select "Phrase" search from the drop-down box and try limiting to the 'Government' library type.

Search Tip

Map-based searching is also available if you are more graphically oriented (and have a JavaScript enabled Web browser) which makes it possible for you to search for Australian institutions by location. You can search across the whole of Australia; within a specific Australian state/territory; within suburban or regional areas within the states/territories; as well as within the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth or Brisbane metropolitan regions. Results from map searches are presented with an enlarged map of the region selected with regional boundaries shown - by clicking within these regions, you will be able to narrow your search further and retrieve the corresponding subset of institutions.

For example: To find all the law libraries in Sydney, use the 'Map search' option. Select "Law" as the 'Library type' and "NSW" as the 'State/Territory' (click on the map of New South Wales or select it from the drop-down box) then select the [Search] button. With the results of your search, there will be a full map of New South Wales - click on the "Sydney" region. You could then choose to narrow your search further to only those law libraries in, for example, "Inner Sydney".

Map searching within ALG is based on the 65 Australian Bureau of Statistics statistical divisions - including both census collection districts and local government areas.

Search Tip

Search by library type

Every library and cultural institution within the Australian Libraries Gateway has been assigned at least one of the following 23 library "types". If you limit your search to one of these types but don't find a particular library, try to think which other category the library may have assigned itself. Alternatively, try searching by name and/or location across 'All' library types.

  • Agricultural
  • Art
  • Corporate/Business
  • Cultural organisation
  • Defence/Military
  • Local/Family history
  • Government
  • Health/Medical
  • Joint use
  • Law
  • Mobile
  • Music
  • National/State/Territory
  • Parliamentary
  • Public
  • Religious
  • Research
  • School (K-12)
  • Science/Technology
  • Special
  • TAFE/College
  • Trove Contributor
  • Toy
  • University

Search Tip

Advanced search options

The 'Advanced search' options within ALG enable users to also:
The advanced search also allows you to limit your search to institutions:

Search Tip

Search collections by subject

Libraries and cultural institutions can record detailed subject information about their colletions in the Australian Libraries Gateway. This enables users to search the Gateway for collections by subject area and find out which Australian institutions are collecting to what level in an area of interest. In August 1999, approximately 150 libraries and cultural institutions (including the National Library, State, university and special libraries) had included information about their subject collecting levels in the Gateway.

To 'Search collections by subject', browse and select one of the ALG subject headings. You can further refine your subject search by selecting a 'Library type' from the drop-down box as well as restricting your search to a specific location (eg a particular state/territory). If you want to search for collections in regional Australian (ie more deeply than just state/territory), click on the map of Australia or follow the textual link to the maps to start your broad subject search. Select a subject from the drop-down list - you can limit your search by selecting a 'Library type' (eg university, special) and/or an individual state/territory - then submit the search with the 'Search' button.

Once the search is complete, you will be presented with a map of the area searched (ie all of Australia or an individual state/territory) with the results in a table below. This table class="content" will give you a good overview of the number of libraries and cultural institutions in the region who have identified themselves as having collections relevant to your search request. The institutions will be ranked in descending order of collecting strength (definitions of the collecting levels are available) - the highest level being 'Comprehensive', the lowest, 'Nothing in this category'.

If there is more than one institution in your result set (if there is only one, it's entry will simply be displayed), this second map will enable you to search further within the region (ie at the regional level within the state/territory) - click on the map or use the drop-down options to narrow the search further regionally. The other option you will have is to make your search more specific within the subject area - make a selection from the drop-down box at the top of the screen or leave the default.

For example: From a search of all institutions in New South Wales on the broad subject of 'Agriculture', you may decide to then limit the search to just collections relating to 'Plant Disease & Pests' held by libraries in the 'Far West'. Once you submit this second search, a sub-set of institutions will be displayed.

Search Tip

For more detailed information about any of the libraries or cultural institutions listed in a summary results table, follow the red link to 'More Details' to the full directory details of a library or cultural institution Gateway entry. These entries include links to summary collecting level information from the broad subjects - look for 'Subject Collecting Levels:' and 'Highlights of the collection:' for any comments which may have been provided by the institution.

Last modified: January 07 2013.