Digitisation of Traditional Format Library Materials

Digitisation Project Brief - 19th Century Australian sheet music

General description of the proposed project

The Library’s collection of 19th Century Australian sheet music is a comprehensive and significant collection of printed music items relating to Australia. This large collection has been built over many years and the Library is still actively acquiring 19th century Australian music items for its collection. The music items are by Australian composers, lyricists, arrangers, etc., or have an Australian association through the content of the work, or have been published in Australia.

Collection material of relevance to the project

The Library’s 19th Century Australian sheet music collection consists of approximately 2500 music items. There is some duplication of items between this collection and the JAF and Snell 19th Century Australian music collections already digitised. This duplication has been taken in to account; therefore an item that has copies in more than one collection is only counted and digitised once.

The items in the Library’s 19th Century Australian sheet music collection to be digitised are located at: MUS N mb and consist of approximately 1,300 music items (estimate of 7,800 pages).

To be digitised from the original collection material.

Levels of use and user groups – current and anticipated

Readers, musicologists and researchers use the collection. It is anticipated that the digitisation and on-line availability of these music items will create a greater awareness in the community of the importance of music in the development and history of Australian society and culture.

Bibliographic coverage of the collection

Each item in the 19th Century Australian sheet music collection has been fully catalogued with a bibliographic record on the National Bibliographic Database and in the National Library’s catalogue. The items can be found by searching the catalogue under various access points: title, names (composers, lyricists, etc) and subjects.

Preservation, care and handling guidelines

DISCLAIMER: The National Library of Australia disclaims liability for the use of the information provided in this page. The guidelines have been produced to aid Library staff in the digitisation of collection material. The National Library of Australia accepts no responsibility for the loss occasioned as a direct or indirect result of the use of the information in these guidelines.

Each item in the 19th Century Australian sheet music collection is stored in a mylar pocket. The items are then housed in boxes stored horizontally on the shelves, so the sheet music is laying flat. Most items in the collection are in reasonable condition, with some items requiring minor repairs.

It is anticipated that digitisation of this collection will reduce the handling of the original music items.

Intellectual property or other rights

As the collection consists of music items published before 1900 there should be no problems or issues re intellectual property or other rights. The Library owns all the items in the collection.

IT requirements

Most of these items can be scanned using existing flat bed scanners. Some items may need to be digitised using an overhead camera. The digital images will be available as part of the Library’s digital collections.

Resource requirements

This collection can be absorbed within the 2002-2003 financial year digitisation work plan to meet the established targets.


It is hoped the digitisation of the Library’s 19th Century Australian sheet music collections will generate increased interest in Australian music and will support and lead to other significant projects and developments in the delivery of Australian music to the community, both nationally and internationally.

This digitised material will help support the development of the MusicAustralia service.


An estimate for completion of this work is June 2003.

Other considerations

Other 19th Century Australian printed sheet music collections have already been digitised and are available online through the Library’s digital music collection and the MusicAustralia pilot.

Contact officer: Robyn Holmes, Curator of Music


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