I’m thinking about donating to the National Library of Australia. What do I need to do? 

We’re always grateful for any offers of donation! But before you make an offer, first check our catalogue to make sure we don’t already have it. The Library only takes unique material that has Australian significance. Our Collection Development Policy explains what we’re after in greater detail. 

If you’re still keen to donate, please read Donate collection material for what to do next.

How are donation offers assessed by the Library? 

The Library uses the Collection Development Policy as our guide to what we can accept. We also look at other factors, like what condition your donation is in. For example, if it’s very damaged or needs a lot of preservation work.

What materials are you interested in acquiring? 

The Library’s aim is to tell all of Australia's stories and experiences. We look for works that have national significance in the past or present. We already have a very rich and varied collection so we’re not looking for any duplicate items. Please read our Collection Development Policy for a general guide to what we’re after as well as our current collecting priorities.

I’ve made an offer. What do I do now? 

We will send you an acknowledgement email. There will also be a tracking number so you can check on how your offer is progressing.  We'll be in touch once we’ve had time to look at your donation properly. We value donation offers and carefully consider each one. We may ask you for more information to help us. We will let you know in writing if we can take your donation.

You can still make an offer even if you don’t think you own copyright over the material you are donating. Any information you have on copyright in the material can be useful to us. But even if you don’t know anything we can still accept the material.

Can I make an offer on behalf of someone else?  

Yes, you can. Just make sure to tell us when you make the offer.  

Can I donate digital material?

Yes, you certainly can. We may accept offers of digital material as long as it fits in with our Collection Development Policy. Digital material might be things like files on your computer, email correspondence or digital image files. If we accept it, our digital preservation team will look after this material to make sure it’s accessible for generations to come.

Does the Library accept donations on the spot?

Sadly, we can’t accept donations on the spot or in person. This is because we need time to examine and consider an offer and make sure it fits in with our Collection Development Policy. Check out Donate collection material for the best way to submit a donation to us. Please don’t send donations to us until we’ve agreed to accept it, as we’re not able to return it to you. See our deaccessioning and disposal policy for more information. 

What happens if my donation is accepted? 

We will be in touch. We may ask you for more information such as details about how the donation is to be listed. If you’re donating personal papers or organisational records we may need you to check and remove any documents that we can’t accept. We’ll work with you to arrange packing and delivery to the Library.

Do I need to provide an item list or other documentation? 

Any details you can give us about your donation are gratefully appreciated. If you have the time to create an item list of what you’re offering or any other useful descriptions this is very helpful. We may be able to get back to you more quickly, and it helps us to understand what’s in your donation.

What happens to my material once it’s been accepted and sent off to the Library?

We take great care of it. If we accept your donation, we then make sure it’s accessible to the public. This means it has its own description in the catalogue, which includes information such as how the material may be accessed and used. For original material we’ll work this out with you through a Rights and Access agreement which allows you to decide the level of access. 

Can I restrict access to things I’ve donated?

Yes you can. The Library prefers to make the collections available to the public as part of telling Australia’s stories. However, we understand that some of the material you offer may be sensitive or personal. When you make us an offer, we will work with you to decide what material can be shared straight away, and what might need to be restricted until a future date.

What other institutions might be interested in my donation?  

Check out this contacts list of state libraries and other specialist collecting institutions that you might want to approach.

Apart from Libraries, there are many other institutions that may want your donation. For instance:

  • university archives
  • performing arts collections
  • corporate archives
  • churches
  • museums and galleries
  • the National Trust. 

Please let us know if you’ve offered your donation to another institution previously.

What happens if my offer is declined? 

The Library can only accept things that meet our Collection Development Policy.

If we can’t take your offer we may suggest other collecting institutions that might be suitable. We are very grateful for your offer as we strive to tell all of Australia’s stories.