Conditions for external loans to exhibitions

Period of notice

Each request for an external loan to an exhibition should be received with at least twelve months' notice to allow sufficient time for scheduling and the preparation of the loan, as per the Library's exhibitions loans policy. Loans requested 9 to 12 months in advance may be considered depending on the forward schedule. Loan requests with notice of less than 9 months will not generally be considered.

Availability of works for loan

The availability of material for outward loans from the National Library’s collection for the purpose of exhibition is at the Library’s discretion and dependent on the following:

  • the Library's own requirements for the works to be included in temporary exhibitions, Treasures Gallery displays or other internal events and displays
  • the condition of the work and its suitability for loan, taking into account any previous display history of the work
  • the nature and type of institution, the importance and scope of the exhibition or display, the length of the period of loan and the significance of the works requested
  • the period of notice given to the Library for the processing of the request
  • the environmental and security conditions of the borrowing institution and ability to adequately resource the administrative, logistical and financial aspects of the loan
  • the Library's ability to resource the administration and preparation of the loan.

Loan fees and costs for outward loans

The Borrower will pay the prescribed loan fees and costs as set out below. A proportion of the costs related to lending the works will be determined in consultation with the Borrower during the loan process.

  • $200 per loan item requested with at least 12 months' notice.
  • $400 per loan where the lead time is less than 12 months.
  • $100 per item for loan renewals.
  • $100 for loan requests which are withdrawn with less than 2 months' notice of the opening date.

The Borrower will be required to bear costs associated with the shipping of the work/s including crating, packing, transportation, security, independent valuation for insurance, customs agents and quarantine fees. Should the Library request a courier to accompany the loan, the Borrower will also be responsible for costs associated with courier arrangements including accommodation, transportation and per diems.

Any preparation requested by the Borrower which is at variance with normal practice will attract additional charges. These will be negotiated on a case by case basis.

The Borrower will be charged for all work carried out in relation to the loan once approval has been given.


Loans from the National Library of Australia's collection will be covered under the Library's ComCover insurance policy while on loan to other approved non-Australian Government domestic or international borrowing institutions. In cases where the value of the loaned item(s) exceeds the value of the Library's ComCover policy, ComCover must be notified to ensure the value is adjusted for the duration of the loan.

For loans to other Australian Government institutions, the temporary location of high value loaned item(s) should be noted in the Library's Schedule of Assets under its ComCover policy for the duration of the loan.


All transport and courier arrangements will be organised by the Borrower in consultation with the Library and at the Borrower's expense. Packing arrangements will be organised by the Library and costs incurred will also be passed on to the Borrower. If international customs clearances are required, the Borrower will arrange for this in consultation with the Library and provide the Library with all necessary documentation.

Display and care of outward loans

Environmental and display conditions at the borrowing institution must comply with the National Library of Australia’s standards.

The Borrower will at all times protect the work/s from direct sunlight, rain, extreme variations in temperature and from hazards including theft, fire, insects, smoking, foodstuffs and liquids. The work/s must also be displayed at the appropriate temperature and light levels and not be displayed for longer than the agreed period.

Compliance with these environmental conditions at the Borrower's venue must be verified through the receipt of a Standard Facility Report before the loan can be approved. The Borrower must also complete the condition reports that are supplied by the Library and travel with the loan.

Only qualified staff may unpack, handle and repack the work/s. If voluntary staff or commercial firms are employed for such purposes, approval must be sought from the Library in advance. If approval is given, voluntary staff and contractors must be supervised at all times. Any instructions given by the Library regarding unpacking, installation and repacking are to be followed.

The Borrower is responsible for the care of the work/s and must ensure their protection. Any damage, deterioration or loss to the work/s must be reported to the Library immediately by telephone and the damage photographed. The work/s should not be moved or treated until further instruction from the Library unless necessary to prevent further damage. A written report of the damage will then need to be submitted in writing to the Library.

Display: light levels

The work/s must be displayed with the appropriate light levels specified by the Library and must also be protected from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV levels must be controlled to less than 75 microwatts per lumen. The light levels permitted are:

  • inorganic objects: 300 lux
  • paintings, organic objects: 200 lux
  • works on paper, textiles, photographic prints, ethnographic objects: 50 lux.

Please note this is only a guide. Individual light levels for objects will be specified on the loan agreement and may differ from what is shown above.

Display: temperature and humidity

The Borrower must ensure that the work/s are stored and displayed in a stable environment and the Library may insist upon special conditions for particular work/s. The temperature must be between 20 +/- 2°C and relative humidity of 50 +/- 5% with no more than 3% change in relative humidity in one hour. Any variation to these parameters must be approved by the Library.

Acknowledgement and reproduction

Full credit will be given to the National Library of Australia in all publicity relating to the exhibition including captions, catalogues, press releases, websites and any permitted reproduction work/s as per the Library's acknowledgement guidelines.

The Borrower is required to supply the Library with a specified number of invitations to the exhibition launch, copies of any publications produced for the exhibition, a copy of any publicity or media material produced for the exhibition as well as attendance figures.

Basic photography without a flash (on a hand-held camera or mobile device) by members of the public visiting exhibitions including works from the Library is permissible.

Images of the works for publication and media purposes must be obtained through the Library's Copies Direct service. Please note some material may not be available for reproduction due to preservation, copyright or other permission restrictions.

The Borrower is responsible for obtaining any necessary copyright permission in conjunction with reproducing the work/s.

Further queries regarding obtaining copies of images from the Library’s collection email

How to borrow works from the National Library for your exhibition

Identify the material you wish to borrow. If you are coming to the Library to view and select material, you will need to make an appointment with the appropriate reading room/s. You may also wish to make an appointment at the same time with the Registration staff to discuss your request further. 

If you are not able to come to the Library to examine the works, please make sure that you have cited the works and their locations correctly using the Library Catalogue. Please also issue any specific instructions in your request, for example, regarding page turns. Please be aware that in some cases the Library holds multiple copies of items and will assess the best copy for loan.

Send a letter requesting the loan to:
Director General
National Library of Australia
Parkes Place
Canberra ACT 2600

Your letter should contain the following:

  • the name and address of the borrowing institution
  • the title and display dates of the exhibition for which you are seeking to borrow works
  • full citations for each work that you are seeking to borrow and an image attached where possible, for example:

Wilson, Hardy, 1881-1955 (author)
Kurrajong Library design, 1951 (title, date)
1 drawing: pencil, french crayon ; 54.2 x 39.2 cm (medium; size)
Hardy Wilson Collection (collection)
vn4467237; PIC/11872/10 LOC 10561-10580 (identifier; call number, location)

  • your agreement to pay the loan fees and all costs associated with the loan
  • contact details for someone who can discuss the loan with the Library.

In the case of a travelling exhibition it must be stated clearly in the letter if you are seeking to borrow the works for tour. If this is the case, the names of the proposed venues and their display dates must be included in the letter. The Library must receive and approve a facility report for each venue in the exhibition tour before it will assess the loan request for these venues.

In response to the request, the Library will ask for a current facilities report for your venue. If your venue does not have a current facilities report, the Library will forward a pro-forma report for the venue to complete. This report will be assessed in conjunction with the request.

The Borrower must also fill in an information request form for each work that they are seeking to borrow; on this sheet the Borrower must give the details of how the work is to be displayed in the exhibition, including instructions for framing, supports and any page turns. The Library will supply the information request form to the Borrower. Once the requisite information is received the Library will assess your request and respond via mail to advise you of the outcome.


For further queries regarding loans email