Australians have an appetite for stories, culture, knowledge and ideas from Australia, as well as from the wider world. The Library will welcome a growing number of physical and virtual visitors, see significant growth in the use and re-use of online services and content, facilitate increasing use of its unique and rare collections, and reach diverse communities in Australia’s cities and regions.
Australians value opportunities to meet, debate, consume and produce new knowledge, and to give free rein to creative expression. Their preferences for how they do so will evolve—but they expect digital access to be the norm. This has and will transform what is possible and what is desirable from the Library as the lines between collection, curation and access and those between the producers and users of these services are increasingly blurred.
Deep audience engagement with Australian stories and knowledge will grow as Trove expands to contain more diverse digitised content, including journals and manuscripts, and as it improves the discoverability of national collections. Australians will continue to contribute to the intellectual public good through engagement with the national digital collection via Trove. They will add their own digital content via third party services such as Trove’s Flickr pool. Digital volunteers will continue to improve discoverability of Trove resources through text correction and by adding their own knowledge for the benefit of all. They will curate and share content on diverse themes through Trove’s lists functionality, numerous social media services and the power of its Application Programming Interface. As digital tools develop and support industrial-scale improvements to content discovery (for example, as optical character recognition tools for printed and handwritten text mature), the Library will expand its pioneering work in this area by offering communities new and productive ways to participate, both online and onsite.
Over the period of this plan, the Library will focus on building respectful relationships with Indigenous communities whose unique history and culture is documented in Library collections.
The Library will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its iconic building in 2018, and will use this event to connect even more strongly with Australians, and to better understand and anticipate community needs.
The Library’s charter is to collect and preserve, in perpetuity, the nation’s distinctive and diverse documentary heritage. The Library welcomed the implementation in 2016 of legal deposit for digital materials as this strengthens and transforms the Library’s mandate. The Library can now systematically collect Australia’s record of digital publishing and ensure its safekeeping for the very long term. The Library must meet this new responsibility within existing resources despite the challenge posed by the volume of online publishing. The period covered by this corporate plan will be vital to the successful establishment of the policies, relationships, systems and workflows that will make it possible for the Library to build the national digital collection, in published and unpublished forms.
The Library anticipates that the rate of growth of its Australian printed collections will reduce slowly as publishers move online, and material once solely collected in print will also be acquired and managed in digital form. However, the Library anticipates an increase in offers of paper-based personal, organisational and photographic archives for at least the next decade, given the extent of such material still with creators. This increase in the range and volume of material on offer will test the Library’s ability to develop, describe and manage these collections as they require a high degree of curatorial activity to make them accessible.
Over the next four years, Australia’s strategic, cultural and commercial engagement with countries of the Asian region will continue to evolve and flourish. With diminishing support for Asian collecting in the research sector, the Library’s Asian collections will retain their significance as a national resource enabling Australians to study and understand the region.
Digitisation and the aggregation of metadata about library and cultural collections are critical to the discovery and use of these collections. The use of Trove, especially of its millions of freely available digitised newspaper pages, is evidence of this. Trove’s achievements have been built on the enduring collaboration—professional and financial—of Australia’s National, State and Territory libraries and, more recently, of partners from the cultural, community and philanthropic sectors. The Library will continue to nurture these relationships, not only to augment the corpus of digitised newspapers but also to explore further collaboration to digitise Australian journals and ensure that government websites are archived and accessible.
Digital infrastructure is crucial to the success of libraries but requires a significant investment. With National and State Libraries Australasia colleagues, the Library will explore the feasibility of further collaborative digital infrastructure development. The Library will continue to partner with other libraries to develop shared solutions. It will also partner with other collecting institutions to support exhibitions and programs, thereby maximising the impact of investments and our reach to audiences.
As the Library implements legislation providing for the legal deposit of digital materials, it will work even more closely with Australian publishers—large and small—to assist them to meet their deposit obligations.
The Library will also continue to partner with philanthropic individuals and organisations and with business. The Library seeks to be alert to the opportunities to work with digital enterprises, large and small.
The Library’s capacity to partner with and meet the needs of the research sector—especially in the humanities and social sciences—will be stretched in an environment in which the Library’s role in Australia’s research infrastructure is only beginning to be acknowledged, despite the transformative effects of services such as Trove. The Library will continue to advocate for recognition of the importance of library infrastructure in the collection and dissemination of knowledge, and the critical need to make the most efficient use of scarce digital infrastructure resources.
With a national focus on innovation, productivity, workforce participation, equality of opportunity and strong and dynamic communities, the Library will continue to make an important contribution to lifelong learning, enhanced awareness and appreciation of Australia’s history and culture, the creation of works of research and imagination, and innovation within the cultural sector. The Library creates public value by increasing economic, social and intellectual wellbeing. The Library’s innovative digital services touch individuals and communities across regional and rural Australia, enabling access to national and local stories, both past and present.
The drive for all major government services and interactions to be accessible online by the end of 2017 will require robust and expanded digital infrastructure. Just as investment in transport and logistics infrastructure is a catalyst for economic development, the Library argues that investment in digital infrastructure, such as Trove, is critical to the development of knowledge, creative industries and broader economic and social outcomes.
The Australian Government’s emphasis on building Australia’s potential for growth while reducing the footprint of government will continue to encourage the Library to innovate, drive efficiencies, collaborate in new ways, demonstrate value and reduce or cease some of its activities.
The Library’s ambitions will not change in terms of their scale or ingenuity but their prosecution will be tempered as resource constraints require the Library to focus only on critical, very high impact projects. One example of this is that the Library’s concentration on the Digital Library Infrastructure Replacement program (to be completed during 2017) will limit work on many other important business and service improvements, including additional digital access opportunities for Australian communities.