- What we collect
- Preserving our collections
- Building our collections
- Selected Library collections
- Collection statistics
- History of the collection
- Processing and describing our collections
In February 2016, near the end of a bright, hot summer, the National Library of Australia welcomed long-anticipated changes to the Copyright Act with genuine excitement. For the first time in its history, the Library could at last collect electronic publications under the legal deposit provisions of the Act.
Now, some 18 months later in the midst of a foggy Canberra winter, that excitement has not abated. If anything, it has intensified as our electronic collections expand exponentially, building a rich and diverse resource for Australians now and into the future.
Since the new provisions, the Library has collected:
The support received from the Australian publishing industry has been very encouraging and has undoubtedly contributed to these very positive results.
Over 500 publishers have deposited electronically so far, including:
They have deposited current titles and backlist titles and issues.
A critical factor in this success has been the Library’s edeposit service. The service went live on the day the legislation came into effect, and allows publishers to securely deposit their electronic publications, in a streamlined transaction.
We have also developed bulk ingest processes, which enable commercial publishers and map producers to deposit multiple files at once. We are particularly indebted to Penguin Random House, Wiley and QTopo for their assistance in this development work. We are currently working to expand these processes in order to accept content from a wider variety of commercial publishers.
Through the edeposit service, publishers select the access conditions to be applied to their publication. This makes it possible for publishers to agree to a broader level of access than permitted under the Copyright Act. The proportion of material available off-site is significant – over one third of material deposited so far allows open or view-only access, meaning that these publications are available via Trove to Australians wherever they live or might be.
Many publishers, of course, are unable to grant this due to the need to protect their commercial interests. The Library is also committed to protecting these interests. For this reason, and in accordance with Copyright provisions, commercial material is only available in the Library’s reading rooms within a secure, technical environment, unless permission has been granted for open access.
A large proportion of open access and non-commercial content comes from community and local organisations, covering a wide range of subject matter. The array of Australian community publications is impressive, whether produced by a remote community to let residents know about events impacting their lives, or publications by enthusiastic and knowledgeable groups, which link stamp collectors or animal lovers from Launceston to Broome, or connect people of a particular faith or ethnic background.
Many of these titles are 'born digital' and may not have previously been accessible via a Library anywhere. These publications, in all their variety, contain a wealth of information and interest. They broaden our understanding of what passions bring different Australians together and how they construct connections with each other. By collecting this material and making it accessible, the Library is also playing a part in bringing these diverse and sometimes geographically dispersed communities closer together.
Staff have overwhelmingly embraced the cultural shift involved with the changing workflows for acquiring, describing and making accessible digital publications. This shift has required greater collaboration across teams and the acquisition of new skills and technical understanding by individuals.
One of the benefits of the change process has been the development of a broader cohort of leaders and the creation of digital champions within teams. Their pride for the individual role they have played, and as part of a broader network, is very evident. This was amply demonstrated by one staff-member who enthusiastically declared 'edeposit is awesome!' in a recent team exercise. She was by no means alone in her enthusiasm and passion!
Of course, print collecting remains a large and important component of the Library’s Australian collections and will do for many years to come - in the 2016/17 financial year, print accounted for about 60 percent of Australian collecting. However the new digital collection is enriching and diversifying the material available for research, enjoyment and creating connections with Australians everywhere.
**I am indebted to a number of colleagues in the preparation of this post, in particular Alison Dellit.