As we near the end of 2023, let’s take a look back at what has been a busy year at the Library.

Large two-story room with cream-coloured marble floors, columns and stairs; black leather couches; lots of light from the ceiling and a balcony from the second floor looking over the room. On the columns are signs with directions and the word 'Welcome'. People are moving around the room.

New acquisitions 

Thousands of items are added to our collection each year, and this year we had a few very special additions that can be found in our recent acquisition highlights. Among these are an interview Dennis Altman, an Australian writer, academic and gay rights campaigner, a rare portrait miniature of Sir Thomas Brisbane, and photographs of Gabrielle Wang, the 2022-23 Australian Children's Laureate. Our thanks also go to the authors and publishers who have contributed to the National Library of Australia through legal deposit

A person leaning against a desk that has illustrations and drawing on it. There are also illustrations and artworks on the wall behind the desk.
Anna Zhu, Portrait of Gabrielle Wang, Melbourne, Victoria, 6 September 2022,  nla.obj-3129101692

Newly digitised content 

As well as welcoming new acquisitions, we’ve digitised more of our collection, making our collection available to view from home and across the country. Our newly digitised materials cover a broad range of topics, from the performing arts with the papers of stage and costume designer Kristian Fredrikson and opera figures Moffatt Oxenbould and Graeme Ewer and more, to pioneering women in Australian history through the records of the Australian Federation of Women Voters and the papers of Dame Dorothy Tangney and Dame Enid Lyons

Detailed, slightly abstract sketches of costumes for a man and a woman featuring red, black and orange robes and headresses
Costume and Set Sketches – Oedipus Rex (detail), 1964, from the papers of Kristian Fredrikson, nla.obj-3139274966 

Also now available online are the papers of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony collected by Eric Nicholls, cookbooks from the early 20th century, and incredible stories of some of Australia’s earliest migrants, including the Diary of a voyage to Adelaide in the Hesperus

Watercolour illustration of a large white house on a hill and surrounding trees, using lots of greens. Below is the house's floorplan
Marion Mahony Griffin, Perspective View, Floor Plan and Cross Section of Holahan residence, Rock Glen, Mason City, Iowa (detail), c.1912, nla.obj-150458375 

Rare books

This year we explored many of the rare books in the collection with Dr Susannah Helman. These covered a wide range of topics, including Shakespearean gems and first editions, rare dictionaries, and the earliest English publications featuring Australian flowers. At the beginning of the year, Dr Helman also collaborated with our Collection Care team on a blog about the conservation treatment of pattern plates for the supplement to John Gould’s The Birds of Australia.

A coloured illustration of two birds standing on small branches, one above the other, leaves sketched behind them and some illegible cursive handwriting to the side.
Pattern plate for Sphecotheres Flaviventris (Cape York Australasian Figbird)

Over the course of the year, we have written dozens of other blogs, from interviews with our Fellows and Scholars to insights into NLA publishing titles, from reading recommendations to family history research tips from our reading room staff.

NLA Publishing 

It was another full year for NLA Publishing with numerous titles being released, including Australia’s Dogs by Katherine Kovacic, Frank by Jordie Albiston, Phonobet by Kathy Weeden, The Bird Art of William T. Cooper by Wendy Cooper and Ayla's Christmas Wish by Pamela Jones. We were also very excited to release the Bold Types podcast this year, based on the NLA Publishing Bold Types book by Patricia Clarke. Hosted by political reporter Amy Remeikis, this podcast celebrated and explored female journalists from history and those making their mark today.   

Stack of books on a round wooden table in front of colourful stained glass windows. The books are various sizes and colours

Our building turned 55 

This year was also a special one for our building, as we celebrated its 55th birthday. To mark the occasion, we wrote this blog exploring press cuttings about the building's opening, and how it has evolved over time to store, maintain and manage our ever-growing collection.

Simple model of three rectangular, connected buildings with columns and flat rooves.
National Capital Development Commission, Photograph of proposed architectural model of the National Library of Australia, 1962 nla.obj-150871735 

Updating the Library onsite and online 

Carrying on the evolution, we have been making improvements to our heritage building throughout the year and these will continue into 2024. See how these building activities may impact collection access.  

Some of these improvements come following the announcement of ongoing and indexed funding for Australia’s cultural and historical institutions earlier this year. This commitment also included funding for our digital library, Trove

Exterior of large building with columns all around, and scaffolding covering some of the windows along the side of the building

We’ve also updated the way you join the Library and how you login to the catalogue and eResources. These changes make access to our online services quicker and more secure.  

On to 2024! 

2023 was an exciting year for the Library, we look forward to helping you with your research, sharing our stories and providing access to our collections in 2024.