Organisational context

The Library's role is to ensure that documentary resources of national significance relating to Australia and the Australian people, as well as significant non-Australian library materials, are collected, preserved and made accessible either through the Library itself or through collaborative arrangements with other libraries and information providers. By offering a strong national focus in all that the Library does, and cooperating with others, the Library supports learning, creative and intellectual endeavour, and contributes to the continuing vitality of Australia’s diverse culture and heritage. Increasingly, library materials are being acquired and demanded in digital form.

To continue providing the Australian people with the service and access come to be expected, the Library needed to increase its capacity to collect digital content. The tools developed during the DLIR program are more robust for importing, managing and preserving such content, and also increased its capacity to digitise its paper and other analogue collections, and to deliver digital content online, while supporting scalable and reliable storage capacity measured in multiple petabytes.

Program Objectives

The Digital Library Infrastructure Replacement (DLIR) Program has been the Library’s largest and most important digital technology initiative for the past six years. The program aimed to ensure the Library is able to operate in the digital library space for the next ten years, replacing existing end-of-life systems and creating new ones to respond to the challenges of collecting and providing access to massively increasing digital collections – what was described in a paper to Council in August 2010 as the ‘digital deluge’.

The objectives of the program were:

  • To achieve suitable, scalable and sustainable digital library infrastructure by replacing the existing Digital Library systems;
  • To improve workflow management, ingest and digital object management for all existing born-digital collecting streams, including web archiving, audio visual materials, content from physical format digital carriers;
  • To extend collecting stream capability to new material types and new collecting models, including direct deposit of digital content by authorised external depositors;
  • To establish preservation planning and treatment functionality including data integrity measures, adequate preservation metadata, required tools and knowledge-bases, and process management for controlled transformation of digital objects and the means of accessing them;
  • To improve digitisation workflow management and ingest;
  • To improve storage architecture to support high availability and speed of retrieval; and
  • To improve digital delivery systems and to integrate them with the Library’s discovery and user engagement platforms.

The digital library environment

The Library has a long history in and ongoing commitment to providing innovative digital library services across the breadth of its collections. It is seeking to maintain and expand the activities supported through its existing digital infrastructure to cover:

  • Digitisation of print publications and physical materials – for example, books, journals, newspapers, pictures, manuscripts, maps, music, ephemera, realia;
  • Preservation capture of sound and audio-visual materials – sound and video recordings;
  • Web archiving, including support for alternative collecting scopes – highly selective harvests, harvests based on selected seed URL lists, and harvests of domains or sub-domains;
  • Acquisition of ‘born-digital’ materials, deposited online or via a range of physical carriers – tapes, discs and drives – and including current or recent materials, legacy materials, materials produced in uncontrolled environments or controlled in a records management system; and
  • Management, preservation and delivery of complex content and metadata with complex relationships and multiple delivery contexts.

The Program

The program’s expected principal benefits were: enabling the Library to fulfil its mandate to collect and manage its digital collections securely and accountably; delivering innovative new services that improve national reach and draw in new audiences; improving productivity for collecting and collection management areas; and more sustainable IT infrastructure.

In order to address program complexity, scope and risks, the DLIR Program was delivered in five implementation stages between 2011 and 2017, with each stage consisting of a series of projects, each delivering business outcomes and benefits. 

DLIR timeline

The program was successfully completed at the end of June 2017 and the Library is now in a position to fulfil its mandate to collect and manage its digital collections securely and accountably; deliver innovative new services to improve national reach; improve productivity for collecting and collection management; and build on sustainable IT infrastructure.

Program objectives have been met, desired outcomes were achieved and numerous benefits have been realised to date. The program was scoped to cover minimum requirements, and while scope adjustments and reductions were made for some projects, the program also met business needs that did not exist when the program commenced. Some project outcomes also exceeded expectations.

Program Triumphs

  • Australian publishers have a simple, secure and effective way of complying with legal deposit legislation, using the new edeposit service. The Library has maintained publisher trust as the custodian of the national collection in both print and digital formats;
  • The Library has workflows and secure collection management systems that provide full lifecycle management for Australian digital publications and unpublished material, ensuring the accountable safekeeping of all collections;
  • National Library users wherever they are have greatly improved access to new non-commercial digital publications;
  • Delivery systems supporting a wide range of devices, optimised for our content,  showcasing our digital collection and delivering innovative new services to improve national reach;
  • Significant efficiency and quality improvements to digitisation workflows; systems integration to support automatic flow of information, increasing throughput and quality; and
  • Scalable, robust and flexible digital library infrastructure capable of managing massively increasing digital collections and enabling the Library to implement new, efficient and enhanced business processes.

DLIR infographic
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The contact officer for DLIR is: