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Australia has many stories.
The National Library of Australia aims to collect all of our stories so Australians can understand our past, present and place in the world. The Library holds the largest collection in the world of material about Australia and the Australian people.
By bringing together our stories, we can build a rich and vibrant resource that lets current and future generations know who we are.
What we collect is directed by our collection development policy and collecting strategy. Our collecting is focused on Australia through:
- Legal deposit
- Selectively collecting Australian works
- Commissioning photographs of key events or producing selected oral histories
- Selectively collecting items from overseas
Legal deposit makes up the core of our collection. Legal deposit is required under the Copyright Act (1968). It’s how we have a comprehensive collection telling the stories of Australia and its people for present and future generations. Anything that is published or self-published in Australia has to be deposited to the Library.
What kinds of things does the Library collect?
The Library collects a wide variety of formats including:
- Sheet music
- Oral histories
What we look for
The Library collects material that is of national significance. We selectively acquire a wide range of unique materials documenting the lives and activities of Australian people, places and events that have shaped society.
What is national significance?
National significance can be difficult to explain. An item of national significance should tell us something about the wider Australian story. For instance: Australian historical patterns, social trends, changes or movements. What is considered nationally significant may change over time. We become aware of topics that may have not received the recognition they deserve within Australian culture and history.
Examples of material that has national significance might include:
- A major event that had an impact on Australia (for example, the Freedom Rides or the Gold Rush).
- An item that tells us about a broader social experience (for example, a photograph of people wearing masks during the influenza epidemic that devastated Australia after the First World War).
- An item that portrays a person or people known by the whole country (for example a photograph of the Australian Olympians from 1932).
National significance is not always easy to determine. A good rule of thumb is to ask 'will this item mean something to people in all parts of the country?'
What are we looking for right now?
Our collecting priorities change. Here’s what we are currently seeking. You can also find a list of titles we are interested in acquiring on our acquisitions wishlist.