- What we collect
- Preserving our collections
- Building our collections
- Selected Library collections
- Collection statistics
- History of the collection
- Processing and describing our collections
by C.A. Burmester, formerly Assistant National Librarian 
The National Library of Australia began as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library in 1901 and during the early period of its history the foundations were laid for the diverse range of collections held by the Library today. This history of the collections to 1980 was prepared by C. A. Burmester, formerly Assistant National Librarian, in 1981.
When the Commonwealth came into being Prime Minister Barton sought the advice of State Librarians concerning the sort of collection the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library should develop. In general, but notably the Librarian of the Public Library of New South Wales, they responded with far-sighted suggestions for the development of a truly national collection. These coincided with the ideas of the Joint Parliamentary Library Committee under the Chairmanship of the Speaker, Sir Frederick Holder which by 1907 had defined its objective in the words:
"The Library Committee is keeping before it the ideal of building up, for the time when Parliament shall be established in the Federal Capital, a great Public Library on the lines of the world-famed Library of Congress at Washington; such a library, indeed, as shall be worthy of the Australian Nation; the home of the literature, not of a State, or of a period, but of the world, and of all time".
This ideal was impossible to attain within the limits of the Library's funds for the development of its collections (for example, in 1904/5 L1,000; 1906-7 L1,500) although books were selected with care and attention to scholarly standards. In its Report for 1909 the Committee had to declare 'the necessity for making provision for the transfer of the seat of government, when the Library will be separated from that of the Parliament of Victoria, will compel the Committee to ask Parliament to vote a larger sum than heretofore'. Nevertheless there was a considerable public interest in the development of a national collection and many presentations were offered, although the records show that for some reason, possibly shortage or inadequacy of staff, not all of these were accepted. The most notable of gifts was the E.A. Petherick Collectionpresented to the Library in 1909 and comprising some 10,000 volumes and 6,500 pamphlets, maps, manuscripts and pictures relating to Australia and the Pacific area. Thus when the first decade ended the Library possessed an important resource for the study of Australia, New Zealand and adjacent areas. It had in addition general works which might comprise a gentleman's library rather than one capable of supporting research of any depth.
The succeeding decades saw further development of the collection up to the time of the passage of the National Library Act, 1960 when the formally established National Library of Australia absorbed almost the whole of the collection established up till then by the Parliamentary Library. The principal development in the second decade was the passage in 1912 of the Copyright Act requiring Australian publishers to deposit one copy of each publication in the Parliamentary Library. Again, shortage of staff prevented the Library from taking full advantage of the provisions of the Act so that only a limited number, far fewer than those received, of newspapers, periodicals and reports were bound and preserved. The 1920s saw a number of developments of significance: the purchase of the journal and other manuscripts of Captain Cook, a special book grant for Parliament's transfer to Canberra, the addition of John Dunmore Lang's library and the original drawings of W. Hardy Wilson's Early Colonial Architecture of New South Wales and Tasmania. These accessions led the Library Committee to adopt the name Commonwealth National Library for its non-Parliamentary collections and activities. The third decade, influenced at first by the economic depression, spurred the Library to develop its strength in the field of economics and, despite an initial curtailment of its funds at the height of the depression, considerable progress was achieved towards the end of the nineteen thirties, assisted for the first time by funds for the Commonwealth National Library on the estimates of Prime Minister's Department. War time calls upon the Library's resources revealed their weakness in materials relating to adjacent areas in the Southeast Asian and South Pacific areas so that their development became a major task during the 1940's and 1950's. This field of work was greatly assisted by the establishment of Liaison Offices in London (1943) and New York (1946) and by a substantial increase in the Library's staff in 1947/48. Notable in that period was the presentation of the Mathews Ornithological Collection, the Library's commitment to the concept of a 'Roosevelt Memorial Library' of Americana, and the purchase of theKashnor Collection on the political economy of Great Britain and Ireland, all of which tended to set a standard for future acquisition. The 1950's and 1960's witnessed a period of systematic development to expand the Library's collections and to fill gaps, especially in periodicals.
When the Library occupied its new building in 1968 it held more than a million books, many thousands of pamphlets, 35,000 current serial titles, 2,000 manuscript accessions, 170,000 maps and 400,000 aerial photographs, 25,000 pictures and prints, 100,000 photographs, 11,000,000 feet of moving picture films and 20,000 reels of microfilm as well as other microform copies of printed and manuscript sources and a substantial collection of sound recordings.
In developing its collection to that point the Library sought first the basic materials for Australian and Pacific studies. To the Petherick and the Mathews Collections was added those formed by Sir John Alexander Ferguson and Sir Rex de Charembac Nan Kivell, the former, transferred over a period of years, totalling some 34,000 printed and manuscript items and the latter comprising 2,617 original pictures, 3,233 prints, 119 early maps, 173 manuscripts, 4,794 books and pamphlets and 240 photographs. Representative of other collections relating to the same area received then or later were those of J.D. Holmes on Australian Federation; J.H.L. Cumpston, a former Director-General of Health, on public health in Australia; E.A. Crome on Australian aviation; F.J. Riley on trade unionism; J.K. Kenafick, on left wing and anti-conscription movements; M.H. Ellis on Communism in Australia; V.A. Chadim and his wife Helen's photographs of New Guinea orchids; Adam Forster's paintings of Australian flowers; A.C. Butcher's Gundagai Collection of photographs taken at the turn of the century; the Humphery Collection of photographs of ships trading in Australian waters; the J.M. Joshua Collection of photographs of Australian wildflowers and the Keast Burke Collection illustrating the development of photography in Australia; the Kate Baker, Lawlor, Mackaness, Harry Hastings Pearce and A.G. Stephens collections of Australian literary manuscripts, and many music collections.
One spectacular element in the expansion of the collection was the growth of the original manuscripts and microfilm copies of Australian significance. Manuscript accessions which numbered some 2,000 in 1968 had by 1980 passed 6,800 giving the Library particularly strong resources in relation to Australian politics since 1890 and creative writing. Political figures, the principal collection of whose papers reside in the National Library include seven Governors-General, thirteen Prime Ministers and more than seventy other Ministers and Members of the Australian Parliament, supported by those of many party officials, party organisations, public servants and journalists. Equally spectacular has been the development of the Library's collection of Australian literary manuscripts which include the principal collections of authors from Henry Handel Richardson and Vance and Nettie Palmer to Alec Hope and Thomas Keneally. Among other names which are represented by substantial manuscript collections are Louis Becke, Randolph Bedford Barcroft Boake, Rolf Boldrewood, E.J. Brady, Christopher Brennan, Hesba Brinsmead, David Campbell, Gavin Casey, Nancy Cato, Frank Clune, Eleanor Dark, Frank Dalby Davison, C.J. Dennis, Rosemary Dobson, Miles Franklin, Joseph Furphy, Dame Mary Gilmore, Jeannie Gunn, Rodney Hall, Eunice Hanger, Frank Hardy, Peter Hopegood, George H. Johnston, Henry Kendall, Lewis Lett, Graham McInnes, Alan Marshall, Alan Mickle, Alan Moorehead, Sir Walter Murdoch, Les Murray, John Shaw Neilson, Bernard O'Dowd, R.B. Plowman, Katharine Susannah Prichard, Roland Robinson, Nevil Shute, Brunton Stephens, Douglas Stewart, Dal Stivens, Randolph Stow, Kylie Tennant, Margaret Trist, Judah Waten and Ron Maslyn Williams.
While the political and literary papers may represent special strengths other areas are well covered as for example the records of organisations such as the Flying Doctor Service, Australian Association of Cultural Freedom, Australian Federation of Women Voters, Australian Industries Protection League, Australian National Research Council, Communist Party of Australia, Country Women's Association of Australia, Liberal Party of Australia: Federal Secretariat, Socialist Party of Victoria, J.C. Williamson Ltd. and many others. Alongside the collection of original manuscripts there has proceeded the tape recording of interviews with Australian writers and prominent people, important addresses, some broadcast programs, political campaign speeches and other historically significant occasions and material relating to subjects ranging from the use of bicycles in outback Australia, experiences during the economic depression, the Scottish tradition in Australia and Australian aviation. This Oral History Programme has already brought to the Library some thousands of rich and interesting recordings, some of them closed for a number of years.
Two long-range programmes serving Australian historians are the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP)the aim of which is to microfilm records relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific area in overseas repositories, supported by the microfilming by the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PMB)which seeks manuscripts in areas not yet covered by the AJCP. Initiated in 1947 by the National Library and the Public Library of New South Wales, the Australian Joint Copying Project, now joined by other libraries, concentrated in the first place on records preserved in Great Britain and Ireland and by 1980 had produced more than 7,000 reels or 700,000 feet of microfilm. The much younger Pacific Manuscripts Bureau had by the same time copied 1,000 reels of manuscripts and bodies of printed sources.
The Library has sought to round out its sources for Australian studies by acquiring historical pictures in the form of paintings, drawings, prints and photographs. Assembled over many years, and greatly enriched by items from the Rex Nan Kivell collection this record covers events, changing landscapes, notable people, occasions, buildings, social life and natural history. The collection contains the work of such artists as Conrad Martens, Augustus Earle, George French Angas, S.T. Gill, Skinner Prout, John Lycett, George Lacey and William Strutt. Of particular interest are W. Hardy Wilson's original drawings of the early colonial architecture of New South Wales and Tasmania, of Chinese and Grecian architecture and of his later Kurrajong series. Representation of natural history is especially rich including the work of Marian Ellis Rowan, John Gould, Neville Cayley, E.E. Gostelow, W.T. Cooper, John Hunter and Adam Forster. These are supported with a collection of photographs now numbering about a quarter of a million, including a number of collections, those of E.J. Brady, Keast Burke, Frank Hurley, A. Collingridge, E.M. Humphery, Whitehurst, W.A. Bayley, I.R. Carroll, Dwyer, Peter Phillips, Strangman, Mildenhall, among them. With the assistance of several newspaper firms the collection is growing at the rate of more than 20,000 per year. One notable record is that compiled in colour by the National Photographic Index of Australian Birds. The Library has taken pains also to collect the originals of cartoons which constitute a characteristic feature of Australian publication. A notable collection of the work of David Low is well supported by that of other artists. Maps, charts and newspapers make an addition to the resource for Australian studies build up over the years with a devoted purpose which continues to develop the collection to national proportions.
Parallel with the development of the collections of Australian sources has been the attention given to the records of British civilisation upon which Australia has drawn so heavily. Consistent and systematic efforts to develop resources and depth embraced the acquisition of libraries formed by collectors, scholars and families One of the earliest collections to be added in this way was the collection formed by Leon Kashnorof London comprising an outstanding assembly of 4,775 books, 5,995 pamphlets and nearly 2,000 manuscripts on the political economy of Great Britain and Ireland. This included many rare works and editions of the early economists and a notable holograph manuscript of Gregory King's Natural and Political Observations Upon the Condition and State of England, 1697. There followed two family collections which added a significant general strength to the Library's holdings: those of the Clifford Family of Ugbrooke Park and the De Vesci family of Ireland. The former consisted of more than 10,000 books, some 1,500 pamphlets and a small but interesting group of manuscripts including a Cartulary of Chertsey Abbey from 1312-1345, the whole reflecting the interests of members of the family of whom Thomas Clifford of the Cabal was the best known. The great richness of the collection is in printed works from the sixteenth century onwards which throw light on the political, legal, economic and ecclesiastical aspects of English history. The so called De Vesci collection was formed in the first instance by John Vesey (1638-1716) an Archbishop of Triam and his son, Sir Thomas Vesey, Lord Knapton, who became Bishop of Ossory in 1714 and died in 1730. Including a number of incunabula, quite a number of sixteenth and seventeenth century editions, it added substantially to the Library's strength.
In the field of English literature the Library's most notable acquisition was the Library ofProfessor David Nichol Smith of Merton College, Oxford, the special strength of which lay in the great range of first and early editions of all prominent and minor writers of the Restoration period and the eighteenth century. Dryden, Defoe, Swift, Pope, Boswell and Johnson, Steele and Addison are very well represented and the great majority of eighteenth century editions of Shakespeare and of critical works about him are included. The Library's possession of this collection is marked by its sponsorship, jointly with the Australian National University and the Australian Academy of the Humanities of the periodical David Nichol Smith Memorial Seminar of which the fifth was held in Canberra in 1980. Two collections of letters and notes relevant to David Nichol Smith have been added to the Library's Manuscript Collections.
Two other outstanding collections devoted principally to English philology were linked with the resources on English literature. An assembly of books gathered by C.T. Onions, one of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary, consisted of some 4,000 volumes, a large quantity of pamphlets, complete runs of learned journals, modern facsimile editions of medieval manuscripts, to which has been added Onions' correspondence about the Dictionary. Dr R.C. Alston, an authority on language studies and the compiler of A Bibliography in English language from the Invention of Printing to the year 1800, formed a collection of 1,450 titles published before 1850 and 700 later works, including many rare titles, some of them being the only known copies in existence, later acquired by the Library. These and the other collections of early English editions are supplemented by the microfilm copy of items listed in the Short Title Catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland and Ireland up to 1700. English drama is represented by the Falkner Greirson collection of eighteenth century English plays supplemented by the series Three Centuries of English and American plays: 1500-1830reproduced in microprint. Later English literature has been covered to some depth by systematic selective selection and by the acquisition in recent years of the Jamieson collection of ninetieth century writers and of other formed collections of minor poets of the nineteenth and twentieth century and of minor biography to fill out the works of more standard authors. The Library also acquired a collection of the works of more standard authors. The Library also acquired a collection of the works of bibliographer and forger T.J. Wise.
British politics and government, the influence of which on Australian institutions has been enormous, are an area to which the Library devoted special effort throughout its life. In 1938 and in the nineteen fifties it acquired back sets of House of Commons Papersfrom the Colonial Office and Foreign Office to give it the most complete set of British Parliamentary records in Australia. With the assistance of Professor Sir Keith Hancock of Australian National University the Library was able also to obtain a large collection of the British Foreign Office Confidential Prints for the years 1800 to 1915, believed to be the only such set outside the United Kingdom. The corresponding series of Confidential Prints of the Colonial Office were later obtained in microfilm copy as were other works of the Foreign Office and of the Cabinet Office and the Imperial Defence Committees. The recent opening of British archives of the twentieth century, also enabled the Library to acquire papers of Foreign Secretaries Sir Edward Grey and Sir Austen Chamberlain and Ambassadors to France, Germany and Russia. The published documents of international diplomacy from 1870 onwards had been acquired earlier. Much background material was also added by the acquired of such series as the BBC'sSummary of World Broadcasts, the Economist's Quarterly reviews of economic conditions, the records and publications of major political parties, the output of both the radical and conservative parties and several collections and pamphlets including that of the Oxford and Cambridge University Club. This multiplicity of sources has been tied together over the years by the systematic selection and acquisition of monographs in all fields of history and the social sciences.
Some areas of special interest in British history also received attention. One of these was religion, the Library acquiring not only the collected works of such internationally influential figures of Hus, Luther, Calvin and Ignatius Loyola but also 17th century and 18th century editions of the Church Fathers, the working collection of Dr F.L. Cross, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, amounting to some 4,900 titles and 1,000 off-prints and in 1971 an 8,200 volume Jesuit collection. Material relating to the Anti-slavery Movement, to the Local Government of London, to the social and economic conditions of Britain in the nineteenth century, the English public schools system and the recent strife in Northern Ireland were amongst a variety of subjects which received attention over the last twenty years.
The Library's collections relating to European history and culture do not yet exhibit as great a strength as those relating to Britain but have been developed systematically towards that end. One aspect of this has been the use of blanket orders to achieve a sound cover of current publications in European counties, the result of which over some fifteen years has brought substantial gains, notably in German, French and Italian books. In general, the greatest development has been that in relation to Britain's neighbour and long time enemy, France.
The works relating to French history cover periods of crisis commencing with the microfilm of the political pamphlets, 1560-1633, now preserved in the Newberry Library, Chicago and another collection in microcopy relating to the anti-Mazarin movement and La Fronde. The greatest concentration has been placed upon the French Revolution of 1789. This brought the Library the main periodicals of the Revolution, such as Le Moniteur in the original, or, where not so held, others in microcopy and all the standard works by such historians as Madelin Mathiez, Aulard, Carnot, Caron, Charaway, Le Febvre and other less famous scholars. Two collections of pamphlets totalling more than 12,000 have been supplemented by microcard copies of pamphlets in the Talleyrand, Melvin and other American collections. The statutes of the Revolution are covered in several cumulations running on through the Napoleonic period which is otherwise well documented, partly as a result of Professor W.A. Osborne's gift of items from his Napoleon collection. Acquisition of Philip Gosse's collection on St Helena also included works relating to Napoleon's exile there. Fourty-four newspapers published during the Revolutionary period have also been acquired. The new revolution which burst upon Paris on the fourth week of February 1848 and led to the fall of Louis Philippe and the establishement of the Second Republic had many causes reflected in a collection which the Library acquired of labour broadsides and pamphlets of the period and in the works of Louis Blanc, Proudhon, Saint-Simon, Sismondi, Lamennais, Villerme and other well represented in the Library's collection. A collection of more than 70 journals and newspapers of the period acquired in microfilm copy lent greater depth to this resource. The next major crisis for France came in 1870-71 when, following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the Second Empire of Louis Napoleon was overthrown and the Commune of Paris appeared before the new Republic became firmly established. These events were well covered by the Library when it acquired the standard secondary works, the reports of the Commissions of Enquiry of 1872, a collection of broadsides, leaflets and posters of the period reprinted in 1875. It also acquired copies in facsimile or in microfilm of 22 newspapers and journals published in 1870-71. The final crisis to which the Library devoted special attention was that of the German occupation of 1940-45, when in 1967 it acquired a collection of documents, novels, poems, posters, fly-bills, pamphlets, newspapers and short runs of peridicals relating to the military defeat, occupation, collaboration and resistance. This collection which is supported by other subsequently published material has been declared by an English scholar to be more extensive than any collection in Britian. The Library has, over the years, actively collected French government publications.
The vast field of French literature has been the subject of special effort over more than thirty years which developed some strength in the works of individual writers from the dramatists Corneille, Moliere and Racine through Rousseau and Voltaire and the nineteenth century novelists to such moderns as Valery and Gide. As with history and politics the Library has sought formed collections as a means of adding depth to its holdings. Commencing with the microfilm series French Books before 1601 the Library developed strength through the acquisition of the Clifford collection in 1963 and in 1968 part of that formed by the eighteenth century Florentine scholar Giuseppe Pelli. An important accession was that in 1963 of contemporary editions of French drama 1701-1840, the 1,378 items in which were listed in the Library's publication, French Plays 1701-1840 in the National Library of Australia: a Bibliography. That collection was subsequently expanded by the addition of a smaller gathering of plays from the same period and in 1979 a good collection of plays produced in Paris between 1890 and 1914. Two interesting collections were that formed by the noted French classical scholar and editor Professsor Rene Durand acquired by the Library following his death in 1962 and, sometime later, a collection of 18th century works banned for political or religious reasons.
Works from the German speaking world have not yet developed the all round strength of the French but do already offer some scope for research. Beginning with the microfilm series German Books before 1601 special efforts have been made to develop a representative body of the collected works of philosophical and literary authors. In literature special topics were also pursued: microfilm copies of the 3,087 volumes of the Yale University collection of items published during the Baroque era, 1575-1740, and of the twenty-three periodical titles in which writers of the Romantic Movement 1796-1830 found expression; another series was devoted to the influence of that movement upon English writers. Steps were taken during 1974 and 1975 to acquire the works then in print of 470 writers of the twentieth century. This followed effort during the early 1960's based on the expert guidance of a member of the staff, the late Harold Barraclough, in seeking the works of earlier writers. A survey of the Library's holdings of German philosophers was used during the 1970's as a basis for systematic development, only now beginning to show results. One group, the so called Vienna circle, whose ideas on logical positivism made an impact upon schools of philosophy in Britain and the United States was covered in a project scheduled for publication in English from 1973 to 1980.
Another acquisition of some importance was a collection of 753 individual titles published in Germany and Switzerland, mainly in German, from about 1920 to the 1950's concerned broadly with psychology and rich in the works by and about C.G. Jung (40 items), Sigmund Freud (41 items) and W.Wundt (20 items).
Until the late 1930's the Library held little in the German language relating to the political history of the area apart from German, Prussian and Austrian statutes and a set of the Reichs-gezatzblatt. But with the rise of the Nazi party an attempt was initiated by the Library's Chief Reference Officer, L.C. Key, in 1937-38 to gather the works of the chief Nazi publicists. The Library was able, after the War add to these two authoritative series, Nationalsoziolistische Monatshefte and Nationalsozial-Standardwerke and to obtain a microfilm copy of the Nazi Party's official archives from 1933-1945 gathered and preserved with great care on Hitler's orders, together with selected material fromCollection Streicher and Collection Himmler. For the inter-War period the Library acquired the published collection of Walter Rathenau's papers and other works relating to the Weimar Republic. These have recently been supplemented by reprinted collections relating both to the Weimar period and the origins of the Nazi movement. The most significant accession was that in 1953 of the Stresemann papers occupying 78 reels of microfilm and covering the Stresemann-Briand pact of the pre-Hitler period. Modern German language writing in general has been covered by a very successful blanket order which has operated for some fifteen years. Subscriptions to main newspapers have also been in effect for a slightly shorter period. The Library's Film Collection also contains newsreels and other film material, including the Berlin Olympic Games.
As with Germany and its Nazi movement so with Russian Communism the Library relied, almost to the outbreak of War, upon English language materials. Since the War, however, great effort has been made to develop research strength in the field of Russian studies. Three series were almost immediately available in microcopy:Eighteenth Century Publications on microfilm and two collections reproduced in microprint entitled Russian historical sources, together including almost 1,500,000 pages. These were followed by two other microfilm collections: Records of the All-Union (Russia) Communist Party (Smolensk Branch) in 67 reels covering the period 1917-1941 and theMenshevik Collection of Newspapers, Periodicals, Pamphlets and Books Relating to the Menshevik Movement including extrats from 244 newspapers and periodicals. Other collections acquired in the 1960's included the Zwalf Russian Pamphlet Collection of 535 printed items and another microfilm collection, Socialism, Bolshevism and Communism: Items in the Library of Congress published between 1849 and 1931. Acting on the advice of Professor T.H. Rigby of ANU, a foremost student of Russian political movements, the Library has built up over the last twenty years a collection unequalled in Australia of Russian newspapers, provincial as well as metropolitan. To these it has been able to add microcopies of earlier titles, includng back sets of such influential newspapers ofIzvestia and Trud. Works of the princiipal political writers have also been assembled: Plekhanow, Bukharin, Lenin, Trotsky, Radek, Manuilshy, Stalin, Kruschev. In the field of literature, collected works of the best known authors have been sought, including, amongst others, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Gorky, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Turgenev.
Development of materials relating to other European countries have not achieved the same level of those relating to France, Germany and Russia. Strongest holdings are those relating to Italy for which the blanket order has operated very successfully; it has been supplemented by systematic acquisition of works relating to Mussolini and Fascism and a group of anti-Fascist periodicals. Selection of collected works of principal literary figures was accompanied by the acquisition in 1979 of a collection of Italian drama of the nineteenth century. For a number of other countries the fruits of blanket orders have been supplemented by a variety of collections: a microfilm copy of a substantial body of pamphlets on the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 held by the Library of Congress; in 1970, the library of 8,200 volumes in Portugese assembled by the well known landed family of Valente covering a wide range of Portugese history, bibliography, politics, law and theology and including an almost unique collection of Portugese frama of the last three centuries and surpassed only by the University of Coimbra; more recently, a second collection of Protuguese and Brazilian theatre including books, pamphlets, plays and ephemera such as programs and broadsides; in microcopy, a collection of Spanish drama in its golden age, 1492-1600; a collection of Dutch political pamphlets of the seventeenth century and of socialist pamphlets of the twentieth century; the rich Braga collection relating to Portuguese in Asia has both European and Asian interest; seventeenth century editions published by the Dutch Elselvier Press; stenographic reports of the legislatures of Latvia from 1918 onwards; in 1969, the collection formed by Professor Spero Vryonis, one of the foremost histoians of Byzantine civilizations consisting of over 3,000 pieces on Byzantine history, literature, art and the Church.
It is logical to move from Europe to the area on which Europe exerted its most significant impact: the Americas. Until the outbreak of War in 1939 the Library's collections consisted of little more than the Congressional Document series from the United States, the Parliamentary services from Canada and scarcely anything from Central and South America. The close association of the United States and Australia during the War was such that when President Franklin Delano Resevelt died on 12 April 1945, Prime Minister Curtin announced that Australia would honour his memory and that association by establishing a special collection of American material in the Commonwealth National Library. The objective of the collection, stated the Prime Minister, was to document the rise and development of the American civilization in all its aspects, to an extent that would encourage understanding of the United States, its problems and its achievements. Such an objective could not be achieved overnight but, as a result of slow, sometimes laboriously systematic, effort and at considerable cost, the collection which has been gathered over a period of thirty-five years is already recognised as one of the strongest assemblies of Americana outside the United States itself. Its strength was demonstrated by the Library's publication in 1976 of its 106 page America on Record: a guide to works and other materials relating to the United States of America in the National Library of Australia to mark the Bicentenary of American Independence.
Since that publication is still readily available there is no point in attempting to elaborate it in this statement - its three sections were entitled, I. The American Society: A Panoramic View; II. The American Society: Its Many Aspects - III. The American Society: Its History. Its coverage included printed books, microcopy of a vast mass of manuscripts of presidents, public figures and of government archives, of newspapers and of publications prior to 1820, and maps, films and music.
In the development of the collection the Library had the support of a number of American bodies and especially of the Library of Congress. It also had the advantage of guidance from the late Stanley H. Pargellis of the Newberry Library in Chicago, who joined the Library for six months in 1965 as a consultant on the development of the collections, and from a survey of its collections made in 1966 by Dr Paul Bourke of Adelaide. Above all, however, the Library is indebted to its own Liaison Officers in the United States, whose selection and purchases, scouting and negotiations over the years brought a rich harvest: Lilian M. Foley, Ira D. Raymond, T.D. Sprod, Mollie Thomson, Dulcie J. Penfold, John Vaughan, Robert Paton, Richard Stone and Averill Edwards.
Development of materials relating to the neighbouring Dominion of Canada were less spectacular but none the less systematic. During the 1950's concentration was placed upon completion of law series, broadening the range of Canadian periodicals and acquiring microfilm copies of newspaper runs. The nineteen sixties saw a determined effort to build up resources in creative literature and the nineteen seventies improvement in cover of official publications and publications in the field of education. Some archival series including those relating to Canadian participation in World War II were also acquired in the nineteen seventies.
Materials relating to Central and South America were acquired through the Latin American Co-operative Acquisitions Program while it operated in the 1960s, giving the Library an incomplete cover of current publications issued in most countries of the region. From 1970 onwards current materials have been less adequately covered although a representative supply of newspapers from most countries of the region was established. The Mendel collection  of printed material dealing with the area in general was acquired and a microfilm series comprising sources for the study of Spanish naval activity in the sixteenth century was also relevant. Special collections relating to individual countries were also acquired. In 1967 the Library purchased the collection of Adir Guimaraes comprising some 12,000 volumes, 6,000 of them periodicals, altogether a practical, scholarly and reference collection, most of the items of which were published after 1900 with a subject cover mainly in the fields of history and literature. Two years later came the collection of Dr Diogenes Lopez comprising 2,395 volumes mostly in Spanish dealing with the history of Mexico and particularly the State of Tabasco. It has since been supplemented by systematic selection of works published in Mexico. Other collections include an unnamed assembly of material published in or about Cuba and in 1980 a collection of books about Chile presented by the Embassy of that country. The encyclopaedias and collected historical documents of Latin American countries have been acquired as a matter of course.
One area in which European influence has been associated with both American and Australian activity has been the islands and territories of the South and Central Pacific Ocean, the emphasis being upon anthropological, trading and exploitative, and missionary enterprise. These often conflicting interests have given rise to a great body of published and unpublished literature, records and other documentation avidly sought by a number of libraries of which the National Library is one. It has attempted exhaustive cover and in some fields it has by now achieved outstanding strength. In regard to missionary enterprise, for example, its listed holdings include records of London Missionary Society; Church Missionary Society; Methodist Missionary Society; Melanesian Mission; Roman Catholic Missions in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, New Hebrides; Marist Fathers (Society of Mary): Missions in the Pacific; United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Ports; Wesleyan Methodist Mission; Presbyterian Missions; Lutheran Mission; Societe des Mission du Sacre-Coeur (Pacific Region); Societe des Mission Evangeliques; Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide: Congressi Oceania; and Latter Day Saints Missions. Besides these it has assembled letters, diaries and other manuscripts of many individual missionaries in original or photocopy; Calvert, Fison and Rooney of Fiji; Edgell, Jamond, Leggatt, MacDonald, Salomon, Suas of the New Hebrides; G. and G.A. Turner of Samoa; Orsmond and the Platt family of the Society Islands; Fox of Solomon Islands; Collocott, Crosby, Oldmeadow and Thomas of Tonga; and Hawies, the Patons and Patteson of the pioneers to mention some of them. From the missionary collections and other sources the Library has been able to build up what is possibly one of the best collections in the world of indigenous publications of the Pacific Islands: the Ferguson collection acquired in 1969 was especially strong in printed grammars, religious texts and gospels, a full set of the British and Foreign Bible Society texts added others while a collection of the papers and publications of C.E. Fox and S.H. Ray, the authority on Oceanic languages acquired in the 1970's also gave strength.
In general the Library has consistenly sought materials of all kinds relating to the Pacific area, its records of exploration printed, manuscript and pictorial, to which the Rex Nan Kivell, Ferguson, parts of Father O'Reilly's collections, the microfilms of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau and the Australian Joint Copying Project and a project in which the National Library and the Library of New South Wales engaged Father Celsus Kelly to copy materials from Spanish archival sources all contributed. Newspapers, periodicals and the publications of learned societies such as the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Hawaii have supplemented official publications of the administrations of the area including the South Pacific Commission. There is no space here to describe the Library's collections of Papua-New Guinea and New Zealand material in detail; for collection purposes these areas are regarded as extensions of Australia and publications published in or about them have been gathered with a similar intensity to those of Australia.
Until the outbreak of war in 1939 the Library took small interest in the literatue of South East Asian countries, least of all about the nearest of them, Indonesia or, as it was then Netherlands East Indies. Today there are three great collections in the world of Indonesian materials, those of Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde in Leiden, Cornell University in America and the National Library of Australia. Commencing in the early 1950's and taking advantage of the presence on the staff of John Van Pelt, a former resident of Indonesia, the Library began the energetic collection of Indonesian works. Regular checking of booksellers' catalogues was supplemented by the acquisition in 1959 of the collection of R.A. Kern of about 2,000 items which was extremely strong in fundamental Dutch works of the nineteenth century and in 1970 by that of Professor P.O.L. Tobing devoted to linguistics, anthropology and sociology of the area. Later still came the Korn collection, the Yves Coffin collection of 1,000 photographic prints of Javanese architecture, collections of Sundanese and Batak manuscripts, an assembly of works on Adat Law and exhaustive documentation of Japanese occupation, 1942-1945, the Partai Kommunis Indonesia and the 1965-1967 Revolution. Two microfilm acquisitions during the 1970's had special importance: copies of Indonesian serials and of monographs prior to 1971 in Cornell Library. In 1969 and 1970 pilot projects by the Library enabled it to establish a permanent co-operative acquisition scheme serving a number of other Australian libraries as well as itself through an acquisition official of the Library placed in Jakarta.
Parallel with the building of its collection of Indonesian materials, the Library devoted effort to the gathering of those of other South East Asian countries beginning in 1947 and 1948 with the pursuit of both serials and monographs established as desiderata in a survey in which the Liaison Office in London checked the holdings of the British Museum and the India Office Library. The gift of a considerable number of duplicates from the latter was received in 1949. Another acquisition was an assembly of 1,258 pieces, relating to the so-called 'Austronesian languages' of the area from Madagascar to the Philippines including 58 grammars, 91 dictionaries and a number of vocabularies. The greatest accession of strength came from the acquisition in 1970 of the collection of Professor George Coedes, a former Director of L'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient and a man who had spend 35 years in French Indo-China. Some further strengths came from the purchase of the Braga collection in 1966 relating to the Portuguese in Asia, the Cham series of the photographs of Yves Coffin and the systematic collection of current and retrospective newspapers of the area in both western and vernacular languages.
Turning to the individal countries it may be noted that the Library's collection is beginning by now to exhibit elements of research capacity in regard to the Malaysian region through acquisition aimed at three groups of material: archival series, newspapers and government publications. For example material from the Public Records Office copied on microfilm includes the Colonial Office series of Original Correspondence for Straits Settlements 1838-1924; Federated Malay States 1920-1946; Labaun 1844-1906; Borneo 1907-1915 and British North Borneo Company Papers 1874+; the Foreign Office General Correspondence: Borneo 1842-1905; and from the India Office, the Straits Settlements Factory Records: Borneo 1648-1814, Celebes 1613-1674, Java 1595-1827, Straits Settleents 1769-1830 and Sumatra 1615-1824. The British Foreign Office and Colonial Office Confidential Prints contain useful material on the area as does the British Parliamentary Papers. From the United States Department of State microfilm copies have been obtained of the Consular Reports of Brunei 1896-1868 and Singapore 1833-1906.
Another country about which research potential has been developed is the Philippines largely through the acquisition of three privately formed collections amounting together to some 10,000 volumes relating mainly to the post-Spanish period and including the official publications of the Japanese Army of Occupation during the Second World War. Some materials relating to the Spanish period are contained in J.M. Braga's collection and for the period 1898 to 1946 the United States Congressional and other official publications provide useful material. One valuable body of material acquired in the 1970's was the microfilm copy in 643 reels of the Philippine Insurgent Records, 1896-1901, with associated records of the U.S. War Department 1900-1946. A collection of the writings of Rizal which, after his death, continued to inspire nationalist insurgency is also held. Despatches of United States Consuls in Manila, 1817-1899 are held in microfilm copy but newspaper holdings prior to 1951 are scarcely held.
The collection of publications relating to Thailand was until 1957 confined to those in western languages but from that date Thai language publications, both government and private, were successfully sought. By now they number upwards of 6,000 volumes. Materials of Thailand's neighbours, members of the former French Indochina, proliferated as a result of the Vietnam War and have been gathered as they became available through publications in Western countries and Vietnam. These include such things as the so-called Pentagon Papers recording United States - Vietnam relations from 1945-1967; the United States Joint Publications Research Service's Translations inNorth Vietnam, Translations of Political and Sociological Information on North Vietnam andTranslations from Hoc Tapthe Hearings of the United States Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Armed Services and Foreign Relations and the Vietnam (Democratic Republic) Commission for Investigation of the American Imperialist War Crimes in Vietnam. By 1973 the Library had in original or in microfilm copy runs of 36 newspapers published in Vietnam.
The Library's pamphlet, Materials for Asian Studies in the National Library, published in 1970 began with the words, 'One of the most spectacular features in the National Library's collecting has been the rapidity with which it has achieved research strength in materials serving Asian studies'. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in the case of Chinese material. By then it amounted to 60,000 volumes of books, 750 serial titles and 2,882 reels of microfilm. Now in 1980 these totals amount to 106,135 volumes, 1,197 current serial titles and 5,550 reels of microfilm.
It was not until the mid-1950's that the Library embarked upon collecting Chinese language materials, two collections acquired then giving it some initial strength: that of Professor Fong Caho-ying which provided a foundation for holdings on modern China and that of Professor W.P. Yetts on Chinese art and archaeology and the development of the Chinese script. Other collections were added in the 1960's: those of Professor E.J.W. Simon on Chinese language and literature and of part of Professor H.A. Giles on Chinese classics and literature. A fortunate acquisition of materials preserved by the London Missionary Society brought Biblical translations and one of the best assemblies of contemporary materials relating to the great national upheaval the Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864 in which some 50 million lives were lost. Systematic collecting concentrated upon Republican and Communist China which by agreement with ANU, were periods in which the National Library was to take a special interest. Areas in which special strength was developed included the May 4th Movement, 1919, the Northern Expedition 1926-1928, the Sino-Japanese Conflict 1937-1945, the Civil War 1945-1949 and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, 1966-1968. An important element in the Library's collection was the official documents supplied on exchange up to the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution - the Library's copies of some of these were regularly microfilmed by United States authorities to whom supply was denied by China. The Library's holdings of Chinese language newspapers recorded in a list published in 1972 included 99 issued in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao together with 29 issued elsewhere in the world. At that stage titles of Chinese periodicals in the Library numbered 759 of which, however, supply of 400 had ceased during the Cultural Revolution. These were supplemented by a number of series, most of them in English, issued by the Union Research Service and the U.S. Consulate-General in Hong Kong. Other series included the output of a so-called China Consortium, of which the Library was a promoting founding member, which commenced in 1969 the microfilming of all British Foreign Office records relating to China. Other acquisitions were the 263 reels of microfilm of the U.S. Department of State's Decimal File series: China (Internal Affairs, Political Relations with the United States and with other States 1910-1929); the U.S. Consular Despatches up to 1906 from 11 posts in China; and Diplomatic despatches from China, 1843-1906. Printed works in English and Chinese were acquired on a scale commensurate with the documentary sources.
Materials in Japanese and in western languages relating to Japan have been the subject of concentrated effort over the period since 1868. By 1970 it had grown to 32,000 monograph volumes, 1,612 serial titles and 4,272 reels of microfilm covering mainly the fields of government, political parties, foreign relations, law, economic and financial development, social and labour movements and the fine arts. By 1980 theJapanese language collection numbered 78,546 volumes of books, 3,009 current serial titles and 5,722 reels of microfilm.
As with the Chinese materials development began with a number of collections. First was that left behind by the Japanese Embassy in Canberra on the outbreak of War in the Pacific. Next, purchased in 1949, was a collection formed by a collector named Okamura relating to Japanese affairs of the previous twenty years. Then the Library acquired about 1,000 items relating to Japanese Buddhism formed by a well known scholar, Professor Bruno Petzold, followed by the 2,600 item collection of Lieut. General Sakakibara covering history, Shintoism, geography and military science. Another collection of 1,500 items included literary works, while one of 2,072 volumes of Japanese individual biographies was purchased from a Tokyo bookseller. Then came a small group, 180 volumes, dealing with Japanese education and a larger body of works on banking and economic history. In 1979 the Library received as a gift the collection of an Australian, long resident in Tokyo, Harold S. Williams, comprising books about Japan published in western languages. Over the post war period the Library consistently sought also microfilm copies of archival and other source materials. The largest of these was the 2,116 reel Archives of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1868-1945. Others included Selected Archives of the Japanese Army, Navy and Other Government Agencies, 1868-1949 in 163 reels and Newspaper cuttings on Japanese-Korean relations from 1948-1970 preserved in the National Diet Library, Tokyo; source materials on the diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea from 1876 to 1910, published between 1964 and 1966 was also acquired. Documentary material in Western languages included microfilm copies of the British Foreign Office General Correspondence, Japan, 1856-1905; Despatches from six United States Consular Posts in Japan 1856-1960; Records of the United States Consular Posts in Japan 1856-1960; Records of the United States Department of State on Political Relations with Japan and the Records of Far Eastern Commission, 1946-1951. Transcripts of interviews with Japanese participants in the Pacific War are also available on microfilm. One particularly valuable body of material held either in original or in microcopy consists of complete census and other statistical publications. Japanese government publications have been received regularly since 1953 and law and legislative series together with published diplomatic records have been added. A vigorous and systematic effort has now for some thirty years been addressed to the acquisition of current publications supported by a selection of retrospective works available in reprint or photocopy. Bibliographical tools have been strongly developed, newspapers include complete sets of such long run titles as Asahi Shimbun from 1888 and Mainichi from 1872. Serial titles number more than 2,000. Materials from Korea and Tibet are well held. The collection can now sustain research in history, international relations and the social sciences.
The massive literature of the history and civilisation of the peoples of the Indian sub-continent, that is of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was the target of immediate postwar activity. Possessing some reference capacity the Library aimed at research strength, and had the good fortune to enjoy gifts from two British institutions. The India Office Library transferred a number of duplicate sets and the British Parliament presented a number of statutes. These the Library supplemented by efforts to complete its holdings of the proceedings of the provincial legilsature as well as those of the central legislatures. It next concentrated upon the completion of two series of basic importance: the Census of India which it was able to complete in the original and microfilm copy; and the somewhat complicated Law Reports. Encouragement to its efforts was given in 1955 by His Excellency J. Aubrey Martenz, High Commissioner of Ceylon by the presentation of his private collection of books on Ceylon. To some extent also the Library was guided by the needs of research workers, leading in the first instance to the microfilming of the papers of Mahatma Gandhi and Tej Bahadur Sapru, the Presidential Addresses and Reports of the Indian National Congresses. These were later to be followed by the Records of the East India Company, of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms and of the papers of Viceroys and officials including Sir Charles Wood, 1st Viscount Halifax; Lord Erskine; Lord Curzon; Lord George Hamilton; Baron Maston; Sir S.H. Butler; Sir Charles W. Malet; T.G. Baring; J.A. Godby; Earl of Lytton and A.P. Huma. The Library's first effort to collect material in the vernacular languages of India was it subscription to a representative group of newspapers in Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil. Associated with this activity was the acquisition from 1963 of microfilm copies of Reports on Native Newspapers now preserved in the Indian National Archives. This series embraces the Reports in the form of paraphrases and direct translations of items from the newspapers sent once a fortnight by the provincial governments to the Government of India and constitutes a valuable research resource as the following examples illustrate: Bengal, 1863-1931, Bombay, 1914-1928, Madras, 1906-1936, Punjab, 1864-1923 and Uttar Pradesh 1880-1937. Acquisiton of monograph items in vernacular languages which began in earnest in the 1970's was greatly assisted by the transfer of a large collection from New York Public Library. Regular supply of official publications on exchange and the operation of blanket orders have developed a reasonable overall cover of publications from the Indian subcontinent during the last twenty years. This has been accompanied by systematic selection of earlier publications. Two presentations gave unexpected and unplanned strength in a couple of directions. In 1954 Colonel T.G. Gayer-Anderson presented a collection of more than 200 Indian paintings and drawings from the principal schools of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, authoritative works on Indian art published in Britain up to 1952 and more than 100 objets d'art, principally statuettes some of them dating back to 2000 B.C. In 1979 an ornithological collection presented by the Singapore millionaire, Loke Wan Tho, was extremely rich in photographs and other material on Indian birds. In summary it may be said that the materials on India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have already achieved some strength and although it is uneven can support research in some areas.
Much more uneven than the materials it has on the Indian subcontinent are the Library's materials on Africa and the Middle East . Useful materials in western languages have been developed by the selection of standard works. Two special collections were devoted to the former Belgian Congo and French exploration and activity in Africa. A number of current microfilm series, such as Middle East Data File,supplement blanket orders which operate less effectively in this area than others. South Africa and Nigeria are better covered than other African countries and Egyptian archaeology has some strength.
This regional approach pursued to this stage of this chapter needs the addition of some comment from a subject angle. The descriptions of the collections relating to the various regions make clear, I believe, the Library's predominant strength in the social sciences, history and the humanities. It also has special strength in bibliographical tools which assist use of the collections. The comparative weakness until recently in science and technology calls for comment. When the Australian National University was established in 1947 a survey of the National Library's collection was made. It revealed that the Library possessed potential for the development of research strength in the social sciences but in medicine and the physical sciences in general it was inadequate to support research at the level contemplated by the University. It was therefore agreed that the National Library would concentrate on the humanities and the social sciences and the University would develop collections in medicine and physical sciences. This division of labour persisted until the end of the 1960's by which time the demand for a national library of science had become extremely vocal and led to the establishment by the Council of the National Library of the Scientific and Technological Information Services Enquiry Committee (STISEC) which recommended the establishment in Canberra of a National Scientific and Technological Information Service Authority with an annual budget of $A75,000 for the purchase of scientific and technological literature. When eventually the Australian National Scientific and Technological Library (ANSTEL) was established in the National Library, a vigorous acquisition program to up-date it to the requirements of its services was pursued.
Another area of spectacular growth, music, was launched into its expansion by the acquisition of the Kenneth Hince collection in 1969, the fruits of some 20 years' collecting. This was to be followed during the 1970's with the constitution of the Music Library which, despite the smallness of its staff, has gathered a wide range of musical materials, sheet music, records from Edison cylinders to modern discs and tapes, a vast collection of radio series, collections of jazz, opera, pop music of the 1920's and 1930's vocalists, lute music, band and orchestral music, manuscripts of Australian composers. In short, the Library has collected in ten years a vast amount of musical material, much of it having been in danger of destruction or loss. Records of such bodies as the Musicological Society of Australia and the Royal Philharmonic Society of Sydney are also preserved in the National Library.
It remains to mention briefly the development of the Library's unique national responsibilities in the field of film and television. Its National Film Archive originated in 1937 - one of the oldest film preservation operations in the world - and in the 1950's and 1960's established its reputation for the "search and rescue" recovery of Australia's early film history, ensuring the survival for future generations of the work of directors Raymond Longford, Charles Chauvel, Ken Hall, Frank Hurley and others, and of such Australian actors as Chips Rafferty, Errol Flynn, Cecil Kellaway and Lottie Lyell . The 1970's saw the rapid expansion of the collections to encompass television as well as film, and the breadth of current as well as retrospective Australian productions. Among the 27,000 productions which comprised the Archive's film and video holdings at the close of the decade, all facets and periods of Australian film and television activity were represented, from feature films and documentaries to television series and commercials; notable individual collections include the 3,000+ surviving issues of Cinesound and Movietone newsreels (1931 to 1970), the Twentieth Century Fox collection of 1940's feature classics, and the Harry Davidson collection of Australian and overseas productions, among which unique nitrate prints of such productions asMetropolis and Faust emphasise the importance of the Archive's foreign holdings.
Acquisition in the 1950's of the J.C. Taussig stills collection laid the foundation for the Archive's extensive film documentation collections of the present day, which includes the nation's largest publicly accessible holdings of film stills, posters, scripts and associated materials and research resources. Here, too, the most spectacular growth has been in recent years: material coming not only from Australian sources but from fellow members of the Interntional Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) - including the remarkable range of European and American stills progressively provided by the Danish Film Museum.
The Library's other major film activity, the National Film Lending Collection, began as a small collection of 200 films in 1946, and - along with those of the various state film libraries, with which it still has a close working relationship - has grown into one of Australia's largest film distribution operations. The National Film Collection is now located at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image). Its current holdings of over 20,000 documentary and informational films cover virtually all filmable subjects and reach an audience of millions every year. Its special strengths are in the areas of ethnography, medicine and health care, the social sciences, the arts, history, and management make the collection a vital information resource to users throughout Australia, and especially in the tertiary education and professional fields. It is the special nature of the Lending Collection that it is able to serve its users wherever they are in Australia, and has therefore been a very pervasive and accessible aspect of the Library's services to the Australian community.
One component of the Lending Collection which has acquired an individual reputation is the Film Study Collection. Commenced on a modest scale in the 1950s, its rapid growth since 1975 has made it the principal Australian distribution source of material relating to the history and art of the cinema. The work of great directors and actors of the past - Keaton, D.W. Griffith, Chaplin, Hitchcock, Ozu, Pabst, Lang to mention just a few - rub shoulders with the contemporary avant-garde films of Anger, Emshwiller, Markopoulos and Brakhage. The works of Australian filmakers, past and present, the documentaries of Wiseman, Grierson, Hurley, Jennings and Flaherty, the animated cartoons of Pat Sullivan, Walt Disney and Bruno Bozetto all find a place in a collection now numbering more than 2,500 titles that, even by world standards, is remarkable in its breadth.
Since the end of World War II many subject collections not yet fitted into the above account have been acquired adding variety and depth to the Library's resources. These include acoustics; Dr G.P. Charles' collection on angling, containing many rare early works; architecture; the Tancock collection on astronomy; the Austin E. Byrne and the Ernest Crome collections on aviation; William Booth and the Salvation Army; Callen and Humphery photographs of ships; cartoonists; an international collection of published cartoons; oriental, western and middle eastern ceramics; the Rhoda Kellogg child art collection; comic books and comic strips, a microfilm series including ninety-nine of the best known titles published from 1922 to 1972; cricket in Australia and England, international, county and state and club; Elsevier Press of the Netherlands; the Richard Booth evolution collection of 231 items; the I.R. Carroll collection of photographs from Papua New Guinea; international organisations, League of Nations, United Nations and the European Communities; a 4,500 piece collection dealing with Mauritius; the Alfred Milnes collection of pamphlets and books concerned with the debate on vaccination which came to a head in the nineteenth century; the mural art of Thailand; Japanese papermaking industry; peace movements in various parts of the world; a collection of the editions of publisher William Pickering numbering more than 600; several collections of socialist pamphlets; the Tregellas collection of stereo-photography; several collections dealing with women's rights and women's movements; the Elwood C. Zimmerman collection of 6,000 volumes of periodicals and 600 monographic works on entomology.
This account of the development of the National Library's collection indicates no doubt the impossibility, within the compass of such a short statement, of a precise and detailed description of the collection as it stands today. It may be described as a collection in the mid-passage of its development, the account of its progress to that point indicating consistent effort on the part of many hands to achieve something of the ideal set by the Joint Parliamentary Library Committee in 1907. That effort was carried out with the vision and encouragement and under the instructions of H.L. (later Sir Harold) White from his assumption of the position of head of the Library in 1947 to his retirement in 1970.
C.A. Burmester, 1981
 The Mendel collection, together with the Guimares, Lacap-Booth, Lopez and Paraguayan collections were transferred, on long-term loan, to La Trobe University Library in 1991.
 In April 1984 the Government annnounced its decision to establish the National Film and Sound Archive as a separate institution based upon the National Film Archive and the Sound Recording Collection in the National Library. Transfer of National Library assets was concluded in June 1988 and approved by the Minister on 2 September 1988.