Finding Oral History and Folklore items

  • You can search for Oral History and Folklore recordings either through:
    • The Library Catalogue
      • Limit your search to Oral History and Folklore collection by selecting the ‘Audio’ option in the Library Catalogue.
      • Some interviews may be freely available online. Look for the blue ‘Listen Online’ icon on the catalogue record.
  • Trove
    • Select the ‘Music, Sound and Video’ portal and then refine your search results to ‘Interview, Lecture, Talk’
    • You can also search within transcripts or summaries that are available online through Trove


  • Oral History material is usually catalogued by the interviewee’s name. Interviews may also be part of a project or collection and it will appear in the title, such as the “Bringing them Home” and “Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants” project.


  • If the interview is part of a project or collection you can view the collection record by clicking on the “see collection record (go up)” link on the National Library catalogue record. You can also see related records in the collection by clicking on the ‘See records in related collection’ link.



Accessing the Collection

  • Access to Oral History and Folklore interviews is stipulated by a range of access conditions usually set by the interviewee. The most common access conditions are:
    • Access open for research, personal copies and public use.
    • Access open for research and personal copies; written permission required for public use.
    • Access open for research, written permission required for personal copies and public use.
    • Written permission for research use, personal copies and public use.


  • Most Oral History and Folklore material can be accessed for research. However if the access conditions state that permission is required, you will need written permission from the interviewee before you can put in your request. Please contact us to assist you with arranging permission.
  • Request material to access by logging into the catalogue with your Library card and submitting an online request. See our collection delivery service and online video for more information.
    • Tip: The recording, summary and transcript are listed as separate holdings in the library catalogue, make sure that you have selected the correct holding before putting in your request.
    • When ready, material will be available to access in the Special Collections Reading Room. Interviews are generally supplied on:
      • MP3 or Audio CD
      • Cassette Tape
      • Hardcopy Transcript or Summary
      • PDF Transcript or Summary on CD
      • Special Collections Reading Room staff will allocate you to one of the desks in the reading room, depending on your requirements and material you have requested. Staff can also provide you with a pair of headphones if you have requested any audio items.
      • Oral History and Folklore Staff will let you know if you are unable to access an interview due to restrictions on access or if it requires digitisation.

Copying Oral History Material

  • Check the access conditions on the item’s catalogue record to determine if copying is allowed or if you need permission from the interviewee.
  • You can request copies Oral History and Folklore material via the Library's copying service; Copies Direct.
    • Select the 'Order a copy' tab at the bottom of the catalogue record for the item you want.
    • Select whether you require the recording or a transcription of the recording.
    • Click on 'Add to cart' to open the online order form.
    • We will advise you if we need to seek the interviewee’s permission before we can supply you with a copy.
    • We will also advise you if there are any other responsibilities when the copy is supplied.
    • Tip: Check these pages for more information on:
      • Rights and the Oral History and Folklore Collection
      • Copies Direct
      • If you are accessing transcripts in the Special Collections Reading Room you can also make copies of the transcript, if the access conditions allow for copying. These can be done either on the photocopiers in the Special Collections Reading Room or using your camera.   

Publishing Oral History items from our collection

  • You will need to formally notify the National Library if you intend to publish any material from the Oral History and Folklore collection. Depending on the access conditions, you may also need the interviewee’s permission to use their interview publically.
  • Normal copyright law applies to some published items in the Oral History and Folklore collection such as early radio broadcasts and commercial cassette recordings. Oral History and Folklore staff can advise you if the recording you are using is published material.


How do I acknowledge the Library in my publication?

Contacting the Oral History and Folklore team

Use the Ask a Librarian service to lodge an online enquiry with us.

Phone: (+61) 2 6262 1422