The National Library has been selectively collecting Australian printed ephemera since the early 1960s as a record of Australian life and social customs, popular culture, national events, and issues of national concern.
The Library's collection include all kinds of material: minor publications and pamphlets as well as leaflets, handbills, invitations, cards, menus, junk mail etc. Larger publications, such as theatre programs or retail trade catalogues, are also included. Information content, visual and design elements, period representation, portraiture are the key elements taken into consideration when selecting items for inclusion in the collection.
Australian ephemera is indexed by subject and arranged in named sequences:
- General ephemera
- Australian performing arts programs and ephemera (PROMPT)
- Trade catalogues
- Programs and invitations
- Geography and travel
- Formed collections
We aim to collect Federal election campaign materials as comprehensively as possible, including websites and, efforts are made to form collections which document national events and observances (eg the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, 2008 World Youth Day, Year of the Surf Life Saver, Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants).
Manuscript and Pictures collections can be very rich in ephemera and should always be considered by readers as an important adjunct to the Australian ephemera collection. Small formed collections of Asian ephemera (Indonesian and Japanese) are also held.
Descriptions are available in the Library's online catalogue for all categories of material in the ephemera collection and Items may be requested by eCallslip for reading room use.
Explore our ephemera collection by viewing the highlights below:
- Federal election campaign ephemera
- Footwear industry; Glass industry & trade; Ansett - View trade catalogue examples
- Nellie Melba, Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge (performers), Bangarra Dance Theatre (dance company), J.C. Williamson (theatre company), Garnet H. Carroll (entrepreneur) - View examples of peforming arts ephemera in the PROMPT collection