On acquisition, all items in the Library's collection are accessioned and recorded on the Library's Integrated Library Management System (ILMS). The Library currently uses the Voyager system. In addition, for manuscript material Archivist's Toolkit software is used to manage the accessioning and detailed description of the collection and generation of finding aids.
All material is then catalogued according to the Library's Cataloguing policy, with different levels of description employed for various categories of material. Headings for persons, organisations and subjects are created and maintained according to the Library's Authority control policy.
The National and State Libraries (NSLA) are currently undertaking a Large Pictorial Collections Project that will develop a suite of options for libraries to help bring their large pictorial collections under appropriate levels of control, and to provide or improve user access.
From April 2013, all new material will be catalogued using RDA : Resource Description and Access. Guidelines have been developed outlining the Library’s requirements for the application of RDA elements, alternatives and options.
The Library also uses the following standards for cataloguing:
- Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) in conjunction with the Australian extension to LCSH, which includes additional Australian subject headings and references that have been authorised for use in Libraries Australia.
- Dewey Decimal Classification numbers are included in the bibliographic records of most formats of material, with the exception of cartographic materials which use Library of Congress classification numbers.
- MARC21 is used to create records in the Library's ILMS using the Unicode character set. Non-Roman script is now added to records for a variety of language materials, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai language materials.
The Library developed and maintained the APAIS (Australian Public Affairs Information Service) thesaurus until 2009, used for index records and the Occupations thesaurus which is used for manuscript, oral history and pictures records. The General, Programs & Invitations and Trade thesauri are used in-house to index the National Library's ephemera collection
The Library is implementing the Encoded Archival Description, which is a standard for encoding archival finding aids, and aims to convert its existing manuscript finding aids to the EAD standard.
Material for digitisation is currently managed by an in-house Digital Collections Management system. Persistent identifiers are assigned for all items either digitised or archived by the Library
Printed materials are arranged and stored in various sequences in the Library's onsite stack areas or at two offsite storage facilities. Call number prefixes indicate the location and size of these sequences. See the stack directory and call number prefix guide for more details.
Prior to January 2010, most of the monograph and serial collections used Dewey classification based call numbers. In January 2010 the Library ceased using Dewey call numbers for most categories of monographs and moved to using running number call numbers plus a location and size prefix. Note that a Dewey number is still included in the bibliographic record for these items.