Contents

1. Policy aims

2. Legislative, regulatory and policy context

3. Definitions

4. Policy statement

     4.1 Deaccessioning collection material - considerations

     4.2 Deaccessioning collection material - proposals

     4.3 Deaccessioning and disposal approvals

     4.4 Deaccessioning processes

     4.5 Disposal of deaccessioned material

     4.6 Selection from non-collection material

     4.7 Disposal of non-collection material

     4.8 First Nations materials

     4.9 Reporting and communication

5. Key roles and responsibilities

6. Review

7. References and related documents


1. Policy aims

The aim of this policy is to provide a clear framework to effectively manage the deaccessioning and disposal of collection material and the disposal of material not selected for the collection. This framework aims to ensure:

  • Consistency of approach.
  • Alignment with the National Library Financial Management Authorisation 2021 and NLA Asset Management Policy.
  • Clarity about responsibilities for approving deaccessioning and disposal.
  • Guidance on criteria for decision-making regarding selection.
  • Compliance with the Library’s legislative and regulatory framework.
  • Accountability through clear reporting on deaccessioning and disposals.

This framework applies to the selection, deaccessioning and disposal of all collection material and supersedes all previous procedures and guidelines.

2. Legislative, regulatory and policy context

As provided by section 6 of the National Library Act 1960 (Act),

The functions of the Library are, on behalf of the Commonwealth:

  1. to maintain and develop a national collection of library material, including a comprehensive collection of library material relating to Australia and the Australian people;
  2. to make library material in the national collection available to such persons and institutions, and in such manner and subject to such conditions, as the Council determines with a view to the most advantageous use of that collection in the national interest;
  3. to make available such other services in relation to library matters and library material (including bibliographical services) as the Council thinks fit, and, in particular, services for the purposes of:
      1. the library of the Parliament;
      2. the authorities of the Commonwealth; and
      3. the Territories; and
      4. the Agencies (within the meaning of the Public Service Act 1999); and
  4. to co‑operate in library matters (including the advancement of library science) with authorities or persons, whether in Australia or elsewhere, concerned with library matters.

The Library also has the power to “dispose of, lend or hire out library material or other goods the property of the Library” (paragraph 7(2)(d) of the Act)).

The National Collecting Institutions Legislation Amendment Act 2021 made a number of amendments to the Act. Section 25 provides that each Library annual report must, under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act), include a statement relating to disposals of library material during the relevant reporting period. Further, disposals of any library material over the amount of $2 million require Ministerial approval (see paragraph 24(1)(b) of the Act and section 6 of the National Library Regulations 2018).

In accordance with the PGPA Act, the proper use and management of assets is the responsibility of all Commonwealth officials. The NLA Asset Management Policy enables compliance with the Commonwealth Financial Framework and applies to the management of all assets including collection assets.

3. Definitions

Term Definition
Collection material/collection asset Library material that has been formally accepted into the Library's collection and meets the definition of an 'asset' under the Asset Management Policy.
Curatorial guidelines For the purposes of this policy, curatorial guidelines refer to documents that provide staff with a clear and documented decision-making and approval path that supports selection, deaccession and disposal actions. Guidelines are only applicable to certain classes of material – generally lower value and less complex, for example not involving donor relationship, privacy or cultural issues. Guidelines must also comply with the National Library Financial Management Authorisation 2021.
Deaccessioning

The process of formally removing collection material from the collection. Deaccessioning may involve several steps including deselection, gaining approvals and reflecting the decision to deaccession material through adjustment to the Library’s catalogue, finding aids and website.

Deselection Process of identifying material that has been previously accessioned into the collection from the collection, to be deaccessioned. For the purposes of this policy, deselection is part of the deaccessioning process.

Disposal

The term disposal refers to both:

i. The managed physical removal or suppression (for digital material) of collection material that has been deaccessioned.

ii. The managed physical removal or suppression (for digital material) of material that has not been selected for accessioning to the collection.

Library material Defined by section 4 of the National Library Act 1960 to include books, periodicals, newspapers, manuscripts, films, sound recordings, musical scores, maps, plans, pictures, photographs, prints and other recorded material, whether in writing or in some other form. This term includes all Library material, including collection material and non-collection material, in physical and digital forms.
Non-collection material

Library material that has not been formally accepted into the Library’s collection but is in the possession or control of the Library. For example, library material donated by individuals without prior Library agreement to receive and accept the material.

Selection

The decision to accept or reject material that has been sent to the Library for inclusion in the collection.

4. Policy statement

The Library recognises that selection, deaccessioning and disposal of collection material is an integral part of building and shaping the collection and of sound collection management.

This policy outlines selection, deaccessioning and disposal pathways for both accessioned collection assets and for materials sent to the Library for consideration for inclusion in the collection.

4.1 Deaccessioning collection material - considerations

4.1.1 Decisions to deaccession collection material are to be carefully considered in the context of the National Library of Australia Act 1960, the current Collection Development Policy and Collecting Strategy and the Library’s capacity to store, preserve, and provide access to collection material. 

4.1.2 Deaccessioning decision-making and the associated approvals and disposal processes will take into account the following considerations:

  • Alignment of the material with the Collection Development Policy, Collecting Strategy and targeting collecting projects.
  • Whether the material is unique or uniquely held by the Library.
  • Ease of access to the same material via national or international services.
  • The cultural significance of material created by or referring to Australia’s First Nation peoples.
  • Whether the material is secret/sacred material.
  • The cultural significance and sensitivity of the material for other Australian communities.
  • The research value of the material.
  • The monetary value of the material.
  • Any legal obligations that may prevent deaccessioning and/or deaccessioning within a certain period.
  • Whether the material relates to individuals or groups with a strong relationship to the Library.
  • The level and type of risk associated with a decision to deaccession and dispose of the material.
  • The requirement for additional or specialist expertise to fully assess the implications of the deaccession and disposal, such as instances where specific language skills or specific in-depth subject knowledge are required.

4.1.3 ​​​​​​ ​Decisions to deaccession material from the Library collection may be based on the following factors, applied individually or in combination. The item/s are:

  • No longer usable, through damage or format obsolesce.
  • Contain/s hazards which cannot be cost-effectively controlled.
  • Duplicate material not required for access or preservation purposes.
  • Not Australian or related to Australia and available online or in digital form via a 3rd party service.
  • Material accepted into the collection through error, for example, material that did not comply with the Collection Development Policy, but which was accessioned, or material included in an acquisition that the donor or vendor did not intend to include or did not have the legal right to transfer to the Library.
  • Material that has been missing for 2 years or longer, or that has been known to have been removed from the collection without being deaccessioned.
  • Does not comply with the current Collection Development Policy.
  • Extreme storage pressure.

4.1.4 Digitisation of a physical collection item is not a criterion for deaccessioning and does not trigger a deaccession action.

4.1.5 Deaccession processes must be completed prior to any disposal action.

4.2 Deaccessioning of collection material - proposals

4.2.1 All deaccessioning proposals must be discussed with the authorised officer to establish the level of documentation required in relation to the implications of the deaccessioning and disposal.

4.2.2 All deaccessioning proposals must be submitted to the delegate and gain approval prior to any deaccessioning processes commencing.

4.2.3 Deaccessioning proposals will include options for disposal of the deaccessioned material, consistent with the principles of the NLA Asset Management Policy.

4.3 Deaccessioning and disposal approvals 

4.3.1 All proposals to deaccession and dispose of collection material require documented consultation and approval.

4.3.2 Library Officials in Collection Branch, along with the Director-General, are authorised by Council to approve the deaccessioning and disposal of Library collection material. The following thresholds for deaccessioning and disposal of collection assets, in line with the authority to approve the purchase of a collection asset from the collection acquisition budget as outlined in the National Library Financial Management Authorisation 2021, apply to Library officers under this policy:

  • All APS 6 officers in Collection Branch: item or items of up to or equal to $2,000
  • All Executive Level 1 officers in Collection Branch: item or items of up to or equal to $10,000
  • All Executive Level 2 officers in Collection Branch: item or items of up to or equal to $20,000
  • Assistant Director-General, Collection: item or items of up to or equal to $200,000
  • Director-General: item or items of up to $2,000,000.

4.3.3 When approving deaccessioning and disposal proposals, Library Officials should consider whether the deaccession and disposal involves non-financial considerations that mean the approval decisions should be made by an authorised official at a higher classification, or by Council. Considerations should take into account reputational risk, scale of disposals and/or the nature of the material being disposed of, for example First Nations material.

4.3.4 Disposal of an item or items valued at or above $2 million require approval by the Minister.

4.4 Deaccessioning processes

4.4.1 Amending the Library's records: A key step in deaccessioning is the amendment of the Library's records. This will require communication within the Library to the appropriate areas to:

  • suppress or delete the record form the catalogue and/or any other collection management systems, including removal or suppression of finding aids; and
  • remove holdings record/s from the Australian National Bibliographic Database.

4.4.2 Deaccessioning Record Keeping: Proposals and approval documentation are Library records and will be retained in the Records Management System to ensure that record keeping requirements under the Archives Act 1983 are met.

4.4.3 Deaccessioning and Disposal Reporting: Aggregated disposal data will be included in the Library's annual report.

4.5 Disposal of deaccessioned material

4.5.1 Disposal Principles: The method for disposing of deaccessioned collection material is to be consistent with the principles outlined in the current NLA Asset Management Policy. As far as possible, the method of disposal should:

  • achieve the best net return to the Library,
  • be ethical,
  • be appropriate to the material being disposed of, taking into account:
    • any cultural or other sensitivities specific to that material, and/or
    • health and safety considerations where material to be disposed of contains hazardous material.
  • take corporate goals, Library relationships and collaborative arrangements into account; and
  • be cost effective.

4.5.2 Disposal Methods: Disposal methods for all Library assets is dealt with in the NLA Asset Management Policy. 

  • The Library ensures that where economical to do so, assets are disposed by:
    • Transferring the property (with or without payment) to another Commonwealth entity with a need for the property; or
    • Selling the property at market price.
  • Options for asset disposal can include recycling, secure destruction, scrapping, trade-in, sale by tender or sale by public auction.
  • The Library may also consider:
    • Gifting the material to an institution or organisation with similar or related goals and objectives to the Library, for example open access to information.
    • Returning accessioned material to the donor/publisher, if appropriate and cost-effective to do so. However, where the object was gifted under the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, formerly the Tax Incentives for the Arts Scheme, it cannot be returned to the donor as the donor has received the benefit of a tax deduction for the gift.

4.5.3 Where deaccessioned Library material is disposed of by sale, the proceeds of the sale will be put toward building and/or maintaining the Library collection.

4.5.4 Factors to be considered in selecting a disposal method include:

  • The potential for the deaccessioned collection material to enhance the collection of another Australian library or collecting institution.
  • Whether secure disposal as opposed to sale or transfer is required due to the nature of the material or any agreements associated with its acquisition.
  • The likely sale proceeds of the asset under different alternatives.
  • The costs associated with the disposal methods (including transport costs).
  • The volume of assets for sale (is there one or many?).
  • Environmental issues (are there possibilities of refurbishing, reusing or recycling the asset).

4.5.5 Disposal by Transfer/Gift - Specific Considerations: The NLA Asset Management Policy outlines specific conditions relating to the disposal of assets as gifts/transfers to other entities:

  • When contemplating whether to authorise a gift of relevant property, an authorised officer must consider the overarching principles that, if appropriate to do so, the asset should be:
    • agreed to be transferred with or without payment to another government entity within Australia (including State or Territory governments).
    • agreed to be transferred with or without payment to an educational institution.
  • A departure from the Commonwealth’s overarching principles regarding disposal by gift is permitted if the relevant property in question is:
    • genuinely surplus to the entity’s requirements; and
    • is either:
      • of historical or symbolic significance to the proposed recipient;
      • holds other special significance for the proposed recipient and there are compelling reasons to justify its gifting to that recipient;
      • of low value and otherwise uneconomical to dispose of; or
      • the gifting supports the achievement of an Australian Government policy objective.
  • If a gift of relevant property is being contemplated, the authorised officer is to consider whether authorising in a particular case would create an onerous or undesirable precedent.
    • If the gift would create that precedent, it must be refused. For example, if it would be difficult, in equity, for the Commonwealth not to approve other requests for such gifts and which would in that way lead to significant losses of Commonwealth revenues.
    • The authorised officer would need publicly defensible and objective grounds to justify favouring the person or organisation with the gift, ahead of other potential recipients.
    • An authorised officer must not exercise their authorised power without obtaining a reasonable estimate of the market value of the asset proposed to be gifted. If this is not possible, the authorised officer must use their discretion in assigning a notional value and must record the basis for determining the value of the asset.
    • In circumstances where it is determined to be appropriate to gift deaccessioned collection assets and these assets are considered to have financial value, two independent valuations to estimate the value of the asset to be gifted will be required. This information will then be used by the Library’s Finance section to process a disposal. Any gift of a deaccessioned collection asset must be approved by the Director-General and the Assistant Director-General Collections, in writing.

4.5.6 Pre-Disposal Checking: Prior to any disposal of collection material, the following checks are required:

  • That the deaccessioning has been approved and that the disposal method proposed is appropriate for the specific item or items being deaccessioned.
  • That the disposal method is approved by the Chief Financial Officer and is consistent with the provisions of the current NLA Asset Management Policy. Approval may be by prior agreement or in accordance with approved guidelines on the disposal of categories of collection material.
    • For the disposal of high value, highly significant, culturally sensitive material and/or for disposals on a large-scale, the disposal method must be approved by the Director-General in addition to the Chief Financial Officer.
  • That all records relating to the deaccession and disposal are accurate and have been filed appropriately.
  • That the collection material does not also contain any material not intended for disposal.

4.6 Selection from non-collection material

4.6.1 In cases where the Library receives materials for consideration, a selection decision will be made. Selection decisions may be made soon after receipt, or relate to material that has been in the Library’s custody for some time, but has not previously been selected and accessioned. Materials in the following categories may not be selected as appropriate for the collection:

  • Material that is out of the scope of the Collection Development Policy at the time the selection decision is being made, including:
    • Out of scope material received as gift, exchange or donation.
    • Out of scope Legal Deposit material, for example organisational annual reports of low research value.
    • Out of scope Legal Deposit non-book merchandise, e.g., calendars, sticker books, games, puzzles etc. 
  • Duplicate/multiple copy Legal Deposit items.
  • Physical copies that duplicate digital copies.

4.6.2 Library Officials in Collection Branch, along with the Director-General, are authorised by Council to reject material during the selection process and dispose of non-collection material. The following thresholds for rejecting and disposal of library material sent for consideration, in line with the authority to approve the purchase of a collection asset from the collection acquisition budget as outlined in the National Library Financial Management Authorisation 2021, apply to Library officers under this policy:

  • All APS6 officers in Collection Branch: item or items of up to or equal to $2,000
  • All Executive Level 1 officers in Collection Branch: item or items of up to or equal to $10,000
  • All Executive Level 2 officers in Collection Branch: item or items of up to or equal to $20,000
  • Assistant Director-General, Collection: item or items of up to or equal to $200,000
  • Director-General: item or items of up to $2,000,000.

4.6.3 When making selection decisions that result in the disposal of non-collection material, Library Officials should consider whether the disposal involves non-financial considerations that mean decisions should be made by an authorised official at a higher classification. Considerations should take into account reputational risk, scale of disposals and the nature of the material being disposed of, for example First Nations material.

4.6.4 The decision that non-accessioned material is not appropriate for the collection is followed by disposal by an approved method. Aggregated disposal data will be included in the Library's annual report.

4.7 Disposal of non-collection material

4.7.1 In general, the methods of disposal for material not selected for inclusion in the collection will be consistent with the principles and methods for disposal of deaccessioned material, with the exception that material not selected for inclusion in the collection will not be offered for sale, unless the donor or publisher has specifically agreed to this disposal method should the Library decide not to accept it into the collection.

4.7.2 Material that is not selected for inclusion in the collection can be returned to the donor or publisher as a disposal method, where this is cost-effective to do and where the donor or publisher wants the material returned.

4.7.3 Steps will be taken to ensure that donors and other depositors of library material are aware that material they leave at the Library, which is not selected for inclusion in the collection, may be disposed of. This information will be published on the website and on the receipt forms signed at the time of deposit at the Library.

4.8 First Nations materials

The National Library of Australia is committed to deepening engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and strives to develop inclusive collections, services and relationships and to ensure First Nations perspectives are reflected throughout. The Library’s commitment to respectful engagement with First Nations communities and the actions to achieve this are outlined in its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan July 2020 – June 2022.

The deaccessioning and disposal of collection material created by or referring to Australia’s First Nations peoples will involve additional consultation and the involvement of the Indigenous Engagement section of the Library, to ensure culturally safe and appropriate processes.

  • All considerations of deaccessioning and disposal of First Nations material will be undertaken in consultation with the Director, Indigenous Engagement.
  • The Director, Indigenous Engagement will provide advice on the timeline for any external consultation and on the communities to be involved in that consultation.
  • All proposals for the deaccession and disposal of First Nations collection material will be endorsed by the Director, Indigenous Engagement prior to submission for approval.
  • The Director, Indigenous Engagement provides advice, guidance and leadership in negotiations regarding disposal methods which may involve repatriation of material to community.

4.9 Reporting and communication

Any proposals for large and significant deaccessioning activities that have the potential for reputational risk and to be of significant interest to researchers and stakeholders will require a risk assessment, communication plan and discussion with the Accountable Authority (Council) and the relevant Minister.

All disposals are to be reported in the Library’s annual report.

5. Key roles and responsibilities

Role Responsibility
Assistant Director-General, Collection

Build, shape, preserve and make accessible the NLA collection.

Chairs Collection Strategy Committee.

Authorised with the power to make decisions in relation to selection, deaccessioning and disposal.

Oversees the Curatorial and Collection Research section.

Collection Strategy Committee

Forum for whole of Library implications and risks of large-scale deaccessioning and disposal projects.

Endorses large scale deaccessioning and disposal projects prior to referral to NLA Executive.

Directors, Curatorial and Collection Research

Build and shape the collection, including deaccessioning and disposal decision-making.

Development of curatorial guidelines.

Director, Indigenous Engagement

Advises on the deaccessioning and disposal of all First Nations material.

Advises and assists in the assessment of secret /sacred material.

Endorses proposals to deaccession and dispose of First Nations material, prior to submission for approval.

Leads community consultation relating to the Library’s disposal of First Nations material, which may include repatriation.

Chief Financial Officer Responsible for asset planning and management policy, systems and practices.

Oversees valuation processes for key asset classes.

Ensures asset value and movements are appropriately reflected in Library financial statements and reporting

Administers and enforces the NLA Asset Management Policy.

Approves disposal methods either directly or through approval of guidelines for different categories of material.

Collection Branch staff

Purchasing, preserving and recording collection material and non-collection material disposals. Amendment of the Library’s records to reflect the decision to deaccession and dispose of collection material.

All Library staff Proper and appropriate deaccessioning and disposal of collection material, in accordance with the PGPA Act. Proper and appropriate disposal of material that is not selected for inclusion in the collection.

6. Review

This policy remains current until it is replaced. The policy is to be reviewed every three years or earlier if required due to an update to the NLA Asset Management Policy.

The review will be carried out by Collection Branch. Revisions are to be endorsed by the Collection Strategy Committee, prior to referral for endorsement by the Library’s Executive. Revisions to the policy are to be approved by Council.

7. References and related documents

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

  • National Library Act 1960
  • Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013
  • National Collecting Institutions Legislation Amendment Act 2021
  • National Library Financial Management Authorisation 2021
  • NLA Collection Development Policy, 2020
  • NLA Asset Management Policy 2019
  • NLA Collecting Strategy 2020-21 – 2023-24
  • Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan July 2020 – June 2022
  • NLA Accountable Authority Instructions (AAIs)
  • ANAO Management of the National Collections follow-on: National Library of Australia, National Film and Sound Archive. 2021
  • NLA Collections Management Internal Audit Report, 2020

PCY21/008

Approved by NLA Council on 5 November 2021

Next review by 30th June 2024, or immediately following review of the NLA Asset Management Policy if earlier than stated review date