A black and white photograph of a joey, snugly wrapped in an overcoat improvised from the sleeve of an old jumper, is the 100 000th picture to be digitised at the National Library of Australia.

The photograph, Orphaned Joey Wearing a Winter Overcoat, was taken in 1968 by renowned Australian photo-journalist Jeff Carter. The Carter family looked after injured wildlife at the time.

It came to the Library this month as part of an ongoing program of acquisitions from Carter, whose remarkable photographs have been published in National Geographic, Paris Match, Life and in every Australian national magazine. The National Library has 484 of his photographs in its collection.

Carter, born in 1928, began taking photographs while still at high school in Victoria. He began travelling around Australia with his camera and cumbersome ‘portable’ typewriter in 1946, photographing farmhands, drovers, shearers, and miners, and has been on the road ever since. The result is an extraordinary chronicle of 20th century Australian life, with a particular focus on the lives of ‘ordinary’ working people.

In 2001 the Library embarked on a major digitisation project to provide improved access to its large and diverse collection. The Library aims to digitise all new picture acquisitions, and materials already in the collection are digitised on the basis of their historical and cultural significance, and likely demand. Other digitised items include rare maps, sheet music, manuscripts, printed works and audio recordings.

“This is an important milestone marking the Library’s efforts to make its collection accessible to the widest possible number of people, both in Australia and around the world,” the Library’s Assistant Director-General, Collections Management, Pam Gatenby, said.

“The digitisation program has transformed the way the Library works. Previously, researchers and others who wanted to see this material would have had to come to Canberra, now they can go online and access important parts of the collection. In addition, the digitisation program enhances the conservation of the collection by reducing handling of old or fragile materials, while also increasing access to them.”

A high-resolution image of the Carter photograph is available for download for the media at http://www.nla.gov.au/media/  For public access to the image via the Library’s website go to http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-vn4189225 and the digitised collections can be seen at http://www.nla.gov.au/digicoll/