1. The National Library's policy on the retention and preservation of Australian newspapers has been developed in accordance with the principles of the Australian Newspaper Plan (ANplan).

2. The basic understanding of the ANplan is that each State or Territory library is responsible for the collecting, control and preservation of newspapers that originate in their State or Territory. While the ANplan does not identify a significant role for the National Library, the Library considers that it does have a major part to play in working with the State and Territory libraries to ensure the goals of the ANplan are realised.

3. In summary, the Library will:

  • accept responsibility for the preservation, in hardcopy and surrogate form, of titles identified in this policy;
  • continue to develop an extensive collection of Australian newspapers in both hardcopy and microform as detailed in the Library's Collection Development Policy. The Library's collecting role is much wider than its preservation responsibilities under ANplan.
  • lend hardcopy holdings to allow preservation microfilming to occur in State or Territory libraries;
  • enter into and partially fund cooperative microfilming projects;
  • provide free Cold Store storage for archival standard preservation masters;
  • record all newspaper holdings (hardcopy and microform) and preservation intentions on Libraries Australia (the Australian National Bibliographic Database).

Note: In this document the term preservation master is used for first generation master (1st generation); copying master for printing master (2nd generation); and working copy for service copy (3rd generation).

National Library Responsibility for Retention and Preservation of Australian Newspapers

Retention in Hardcopy

4. A basic principle of the ANplan is that primary responsibility for retention of newspapers in hardcopy rests with the State or Territory library in the State or Territory of the newspaper's origin. In keeping with the spirit of this principle, the National Library will accept responsibility for the retention in hardcopy of:

  • newspapers that are national in scope, coverage and distribution
    To date, these have been identified as the Australian (national edition), the Australian Financial Review, the National Times, the Nation Review, and the Independent Monthly. (This list is not intended to be definitive. Other titles may be added later if judged to fit the criterion. In this event, State and Territory libraries will be advised.)
  • newspapers published in the ACT
    Shared responsibility for these will be negotiated with the ACT Heritage Library when established.

5. There may be issues or runs of other titles that the Library decides to retain in hardcopy because, for instance, they form part of a private collection or have particular research relevance to the Library. These will be decided on an individual basis. (Newspapers in this category will be housed in preservation conditions and microfilming for long-term preservation will be negotiated with the library primarily responsible for the title.)

Preservation Action

6. For national and ACT titles, as identified in paragraph 4 above, the Library accepts responsibility for retaining hardcopy for as long as feasible and for preserving information content in surrogate form. The following action will be taken to achieve this:

  • where there are gaps in runs of titles the Library will seek to fill them and where the condition of the Library's hardcopy is poor, copies in better condition will be sought;
  • the best available hardcopy will be housed in preservation conditions to minimise the rate of deterioration. No attempt will be made to reverse chemical deterioration unless a cost effective technology becomes available;
  • where they do not already exist, an archival quality preservation master and a copying master of each title will be produced and stored in preservation conditions;
  • access to hardcopy will be restricted. For general use, a microfilm working copy will be acquired or created if one is not already available;
  • where archival standard preservation and copying masters already exist but are not held at the Library, free storage at the NLA's Cold Store will be offered to institutions unable to meet the storage conditions required for preservation masters. Free storage will be contingent on the institution's ability to guarantee that the preservation master meets the required standards.

7. To ensure national access to newspapers for which the National Library accepts responsibility all hardcopy and microfilm versions will be recorded on Libraries Australia.

Lending for microfilming

8. Where the Library holds hardcopy that is in better condition or includes missing issues of titles that are the responsibility of State or Territory libraries, the Library will lend hardcopy holdings to allow preservation microfilming to occur in State or Territory libraries;

Preservation Standards

9. The preservation standards followed by the National Library are outlined below.

Preservation Storage for Newspapers

Heavily used titles are stored in specially designed polypropylene boxes. Low use titles are shrink wrapped.

Items are stored horizontally on appropriate sized fixed or mobile library shelving elevated off the floor, not in close proximity to light sources or fire sprinklers.

Environmental conditions are monitored, and appropriate air conditioning and filtration systems are in place to maintain stable and appropriate levels of temperature, relative humidity, and air quality. Temperature is maintained at the lowest level consistent with human co-habitation. Relative humidity is maintained between 40 - 50%. Light levels are low, with undetectable levels of ultraviolet radiation. Lights are switched off when not in use. A high level of cleanliness is maintained. Precautions are taken to exclude animal and insect pests and active pest control procedures are taken as a necessary part of an integrated pest control system.

Protection is at a high level, with restricted access. All material is identified clearly. A fully implemented disaster preparedness and response plan exists. The NLA building provides a high standard of protection from natural disasters. Fire protection includes a Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus (VESDA) system. Boxing or shrink wrapping provides added protection against risk of damage from water.

For material available in surrogate form, use of originals is restricted to last resort use under supervision.


The latest versions of the following standards:

  • ISO 1890- 2002
    Imaging materials - Processed silver-gelatin type black-and-white films - Specifications for stability.
    (Cancels and replaces ISO 4332 and ISO 10602)
    1996 - Imaging Materials - Ammonia-Processed Diazo Photographic Film - Specifications for Stability (revision and redesignation of NASI IT9.5-1992) (same as ANSI/ISO 8225-1995)
  • AS 2840
    1986 - Microfilming of newspapers for archival purposes. (Unchanged)
    1998 - Standard for Information and Image Management - Standard recommended practice for production, inspection and quality assurance of first-generation silver microform of documents.
  • ISO 4087-2005
    Micrographics - Microfilming of newspapers for archival purposes on 35mm microfilm.
  • ANSI/AIIM MS23-1998
    Microfilm of Documents, Operational Procedures/Inspection and Quality Control of First-Generation Silver-Gelatin
  • ANSI/NAPM IT9.12-1995
    Imaging Materials - Processed Vesicular Photographic Film - Specifications for Stability
    (revision and redesignation of ANSI/ISO 9718-1991, ANSIIT9.12-1991) (same as ANSI/ISO 9718-1995)

Preservation Storage for Microfilm

Microfilm masters are stored in the Library's Cold Store. The environmental conditions in the room are normally maintained at a temperature of 8 ±1C and a relative humidity of 35 ±5%, in which collection material entering or leaving the room is required to acclimatise for 24 hours.

Higher temperature levels are acceptable, but RH levels must be set within this range. Stability in temperature and RH, and air quality including the absences of gaseous contaminants, are considered to be critical. Unstable film and acidic packaging are excluded.

Fire protection is provided by a VESDA system and a dry pipe sprinkler system. Access to the area is restricted to key personnel.

Co-operative Microfilming

10. The National Library accepts that it has a responsibility to ensure preservation of the national documentary heritage through national cooperation. An effective way in which it can contribute to the long-term preservation of Australian newspapers is by participating in cooperative projects to microfilm backsets, subject to the criteria outlined in the Library document Policy on participation in Co-operative Microfilming projects with Other Institutions.

Use of National Library Cold Store for Storage of Masters

11. If necessary to ensure appropriate storage, the National Library will store free of charge preservation microfilm masters which are silver halide emulsion on a stable film base (polyester/polyethylene terephthalate, not a cellulose acetate), processed to the archival standards outlined above, in good chemical condition, packaged in appropriate stable containers, and unlikely to require frequent retrieval.

For additional information about the Library's policies on preservation and retention of Australian newspapers, cooperative microfilming and use of the Cold Store, contact the Manager, Preservation Reformatting Unit, Preservation Services Branch, National Library of Australia (

June 2007