1. Introduction

1.1 The National Library of Australia’s Strategic Directions 2012-2014 document includes the following key objective:

‘Enrich understanding of what it is to be Australian through our exhibitions, publications and community programs.’ (Strategic Direction 2: Make Our Collections and Services Accessible to All Australians)

It is within this context that the Library’s publishing program for print and electronic publications is developed and implemented.

2. Policy Aims

2.1 This Policy aims to provide a framework for the development and implementation of the library's publication program.

2.2 Publications produced by the National Library of Australia contribute to the Library’s aims of supporting the vitality of Australian culture and heritage, demonstrating a strong national focus in all of the Library’s services, products and programs and exposing the depth and breadth of the Library’s collections and services to all Australians.

2.3 Publications affirm the Library’s role in supporting scholarship and other creative and intellectual activity within Australia. They selectively interpret the Library’s collections in order to contribute to an understanding of Australian history and culture; they promote knowledge and use of the Library’s resources; and they promote the richness and diversity of the Library’s collections.

2.4 The National Library aims for its collections to be widely used and disseminated and recognises that publishing material from, or related to, its collections is an important way of achieving this goal.

3. Definitions


  • Any publised work has been researched, edited, designed and produced for sale and/or distibution to the general public

4. Policy statement

4.1 The National Library of Australia's Publishing program is organised around two different categories of publications - 'for sale' or trade and promotional or corporate.

4.2 The ‘for sale’ or trade publishing program will be primarily based on the Library’s collections, with a particular emphasis on the Australian collections. For example, titles may draw on the Library’s Oral History, Pictures, Manuscript, Newspaper, Ephemera, Map and Music collections. Titles will be released through the book trade with appropriate media publicity surrounding the releases. Currently, the library does not publish adult fiction. However, the childrens list may include fiction where it is deemed appropriate and a market demand exists. Between 15 and 18 publications a year will be produced.

4.3 Promotional and corporate publications will be aimed at a wide range of groups and stakeholders, from the general public to the library community. Their aim will be to promote and raise awareness of the Library’s role, its collections and services, the Library building, and to keep the community informed and updated on the Library’s policies and programs. Promotional publications include the Library Magazine, brochures, pamphlets, corporate publications such as the Annual Report and online versions of these publications.

4.4 An advance ‘for sale’ or trade titles list will require corporate approval one to three years ahead of publication. This will normally be achieved through the presentation of publication proposals for the consideration of the Publications Committee.

4.5 A Publications Committee will convene four times a year to approve the forward program.

4.6 While recognising that the Library’s publishing program emphasises the delivery of high-quality products appropriate to the Library’s strategic objectives, rather than strictly commercial imperatives, and that many benifits of the program are of an intangible nature, the trade publishing program will also aim to maximise the return of revenue to the Library from sales. All significant publication proposals will be accompanied by a budget outlining costs and revenue. The use of trust funds to underwrite publications will be on an exception only basis due to the opportunity cost and impact on the Publications revenue target. Most promotional titles will be distributed on a gratis basis in order to meet Library objectives.

4.7 The publishing program will support and complement other library activities, including public programs such as exhibitions, events, education, Friends activities and fellowships.

4.8 Library publications will maintain high editorial and design standards and high standards of research and presentation. The publishing program will aim to produce well-made, long-lasting publications making use of the best available material that budgets permit.

4.9 Library staff may submit proposals for Library publications. All rights in material researched and developed by Library staff in the course of their duties will be the property of the National Library of Australia.

4.10 All publications will comply with Australia’s copyright and moral rights legislation and will carefully and ethically address issues relating to culturally sensitive material.

5. Key roles and responsibilities

Publications Committee

  • The publishing program is overseenby a publications Committee, chaired by the Director-General. The role of the committee is to provide strategic direction for the publishing program and to consider key operational matters. The Publication committee is also responsible for considering new credible publishing proposals. 'For sale' titles may only proceed after considersation of the expected costs and, where relevant, the likely  write-down on publication and/or revenue projections.

6. Key outcomes and outputs

6.1 Projected annual outputs will be set at the beginning of each financial year based on prior commitments, available resources and corporate priorities.

6.2 Performance will be determined by:

  • measuring against projected outputs
  • revenue measured against projections
  • the nature of reviews and other media coverage achieved
  • conducting formal evaluations
  • comparing products and services against approved benchmarks and standards
  • assessing solicited and unsolicited comments.

7. Implementation process

7.1 Responsibility for overseeing the implementation of this policy rests with the Publications Committee.

8. Revision

8.1 This policy will be revised at least every two years, or more frequently if deemed necessary.

9. References and related documents

9.1 The following documents and/or legislation when developing this policy:

9.2 The following documents are related to this policy: