Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most libraries have temporarily closed the doors of their physical buildings, but staff remain hard at work ensuring that online and remote access is stronger than ever. 

In recent weeks it has also been wonderful to see that many of the independent and commercial providers of licenced online content are offering temporary free access to a wide variety of resources about not just COVID-19, but family history, teaching and learning from home and more. 

Here is a selection of resources that are only available for a limited time: 

Open online content:

This very well-known source of genealogy resources allows researchers to look for the family records across a range of categories including censuses and electoral rolls; birth, death and marriage records; immigration records; military records; directories and almanacs. Records come from across the world including the UK, USA, Canada and Australia and are being added to continuously. 

Typically only available onsite, for a limited time registered Library users will be able to access Ancestry (Library Edition) from the comfort of their offices and lounge rooms. Thank you to Ancestry Australia and Proquest Australia for making this possible. 

Access Ancestry.com via the eResources portal (and sign in using your National Library card). If you are unfamiliar with our eResources portal, this webinar will teach you everything you need to know:

Missing media item.


  • Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press (OUP) is the author of a range of resources that are already accessible to all National Library card holders. They are the publishers of Oxford Reference, The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, and Oxford Music Online to name a few.

In additional to its usual offerings, OUP has offered free access to a range of resources available for teachers, parents and home learners. Their Supporting you with learning anywhere site includes ebooks, activities tiered by year level, storyteller videos and much more! 

  • Early American imprints and newspapers

Researchers trying to use historical online records to track Australians living, working or travelling in the United States have often run into some problems. Which is why you may want to take advantage of the digitised resources that publisher Readex is temporarily allowing access to online, to Library users anywhere in Australia. Early American Imprint Series 1 and Series II cover all aspects of American life from the 1639 through to 1819. This includes rich primary source material relating to agriculture, foreign affairs, diplomancy, literature and the arts, religion, conflict and more. Early American Newspapers Series I (1690-1876) is also available, featuring images and fulltext content from more than 700 historical American newspapers. 

Access all of these resources via our eResources portal (and sign in with your National Library card). 

  • Ebsco ebooks

Library card holders may already be familiar with the National Library’s growing collection of ebooks. These have always been available to everyone in Australia, although access is limited to one person at a time. Ebsco has been working with content providers and at present, more than 400 publishers are allowing unlimited simultaneous access to their ebooks via Ebsco ebooks.

This means that instead of waiting for a book that is ‘in use’ to become available – groups of people can access these works at the same time (whether it’s for study, book club, or just because they are popular). 

Access Ebsco ebooks via our eResources portal (and signing in with your National Library card). 

  • Project MUSE

Project MUSE provides online access to full-text versions of scholarly, peer reviewed journals in the humanities, arts and social sciences from many of the world's leading university presses and scholarly societies. Access is provided to the complete content of every issue, including all charts, graphics and images.  Approximately 50 publishers have temporarily made content freely available to assist with access for the many students, faculty, and researchers now working remotely due to the global public health crisis of COVID-19.  

More than 15,000 books and over 230 journal titles - comprising well over 10,000 issues and more than 185,000 articles - are available through this initiative. See their publisher list for further details. 

Open COVID-19 content:

Well known to many researchers, JSTOR is a continually expanding multi-disciplinary archive of scholarly material in the social sciences, humanities and the sciences. It includes the archives of over 1,000 journals, monographs, newspapers and selected conference proceedings. Access is provided to the complete scanned image of the item.  

JSTOR has now released a selection of 6,000 journal articles related to COVID-19 and made them freely available through June 30, 2020.  

  • Oxford University Press

In addition to the previously mentioned resources, OUP has also granted free access to resources related to COVID-19, other coronaviruses and related topics. 

They have also temporarily made the entire Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics available for anyone to access. Its content is primarily focused on the laws and restrictions imposed during medical emergencies. 

Westlaw AU is an onsite only resource, which librarians from the National Library can consult on your behalf. It contains the Firstpoint Case Digest and Citator service, covering Australian reported cases since 1825 and unreported judgments from September 1999. 

Westlaw (Thomson Reuters) have currently made resources that address COVID-19, pandemics and business interruptions freely available on their platform Practical Law. The resources are updated as the situation changes. 

A librarian reading from a computer screen

These resources are only available on a temporary basis so take advantage of the offers while you can, and while you’re at it, check out the National Library’s online offerings over on our eResources portal. There’s a surprising amount of content available to use at home and all you will need is a National Library card

If you have any questions about the National Library's online offerings, feel free to Ask a Librarian.