National Library of Australia
The National Library of Australia is the largest reference library of Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, responsible under the terms of the National Library Act for "maintaining and developing a national collection of library material, including a comprehensive collection of library material relating to Australia and the Australian people." The Library contains a collection totalling 10,416,119 items.


The National Library of Australia, while formally established by the passage of the National Library Act, 1960, had been functioning as a National Library rather than strictly a Parliamentary Library, almost since its inception.

In 1901 a Commonwealth Parliamentary Library was established to serve the newly formed Federal Parliament of Australia. From its inception the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library was driven to development of a truly national collection. In 1907 the Joint Parliamentary Library Committee under the Chairmanship of the Speaker, Sir Frederick Holder
Frederick Holder
Sir Frederick William Holder KCMG was the 19th Premier of South Australia and a prominent member of the inaugural Australian Commonwealth Parliament, including the first Speaker of the House of Representatives.-Life:...

 defined the objective of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library in the following words:

The Library Committee is keeping before it the ideal of building up, for the time when Parliament shall be established in the Federal Capital, a great Public Library on the lines of the world-famed Library of Congress at Washington; such a library, indeed, as shall be worthy of the Australian Nation; the home of the literature, not of a State, or of a period, but of the world, and of all time.

The present library building was opened in 1968. The foyer is decorated in marble, with stained glass windows by Leonard French
Leonard French
Leonard William French OBE is an Australian artist, known principally for major stained glass works.French was born in Brunswick, Victoria...

 and three remarkable tapestries by Mathieu Matégot
Mathieu Matégot
-Further reading:...



The Library contains a collection totalling 10,416,119 materials, including both physical and online reference sources.The Library's collections of Australiana
Australiana is an item of historical or cultural interest of Australian origins. Australiana often borrows from Australian Aboriginal culture, or the stereotypical Australian culture of the early 1900s....

 have developed into the nation's single most important resource of materials recording the Australian cultural heritage. Australian writers, editors and illustrators are actively sought and well represented—whether published in Australia or overseas.

Australian & General Collection

The Library collects material produced by Australians, for Australians or about the Australian experience in all formats—not just printed works—books, serials, newspapers, maps, posters, music and printed ephemera
Ephemera are transitory written and printed matter not intended to be retained or preserved. The word derives from the Greek, meaning things lasting no more than a day. Some collectible ephemera are advertising trade cards, airsickness bags, bookmarks, catalogues, greeting cards, letters,...

—but also online publications and unpublished material such as manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

s, pictures and oral histories. The Library has particular collection strengths in the performing arts, including dance.

The Library's considerable collections of general overseas and rare book materials, as well as world-class Asian and Pacific collections which augment the Australiana collections. The print collections are further supported by extensive microform
Microforms are any forms, either films or paper, containing microreproductions of documents for transmission, storage, reading, and printing. Microform images are commonly reduced to about one twenty-fifth of the original document size...


The Library maintains the National Reserve Braille
The Braille system is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write, and was the first digital form of writing.Braille was devised in 1825 by Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman. Each Braille character, or cell, is made up of six dot positions, arranged in a rectangle containing two...


In total, over 8 million items are held.

The Library has digitized
Digitizing or digitization is the representation of an object, image, sound, document or a signal by a discrete set of its points or samples. The result is called digital representation or, more specifically, a digital image, for the object, and digital form, for the signal...

 over 140,000 items from its collection (the 100,000th being and, where possible, delivers these directly across the Internet. The Library is a world leader in digital preservation
Digital preservation
Digital preservation is the set of processes, activities and management of digital information over time to ensure its long term accessibility. The goal of digital preservation is to preserve materials resulting from digital reformatting, and particularly information that is born-digital with no...

 techniques, and maintains an Internet-accessible archive of selected Australian websites called the Pandora Archive
Pandora Archive
PANDORA - Australia's Web Archive is the national web archive for the preservation of Australia's online publications. It was established by the National Library of Australia in 1996, and is now built in collaboration with a number of other Australian state libraries and cultural collecting...


Asian Collections

The Library houses the largest and most actively developing research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 resource on Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 in Australia, and the largest Asian language collections in the Southern hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
The Southern Hemisphere is the part of Earth that lies south of the equator. The word hemisphere literally means 'half ball' or "half sphere"...

, with over half a million volumes in the collection, as well as extensive online
ONLINE is a magazine for information systems first published in 1977. The publisher Online, Inc. was founded the year before. In May 2002, Information Today, Inc. acquired the assets of Online Inc....

 and electronic resources. The Library collects resources about all Asian countries in Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 languages extensively, and resources in the following Asian languages: Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

, Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

, Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, Indonesian
Indonesian language
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau Islands dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries....

, Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

, Khmer
Khmer language
Khmer , or Cambodian, is the language of the Khmer people and the official language of Cambodia. It is the second most widely spoken Austroasiatic language , with speakers in the tens of millions. Khmer has been considerably influenced by Sanskrit and Pali, especially in the royal and religious...

, Korean
Korean language
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...

, Lao
Lao language
Lao or Laotian is a tonal language of the Tai–Kadai language family. It is the official language of Laos, and also spoken in the northeast of Thailand, where it is usually referred to as the Isan language. Being the primary language of the Lao people, Lao is also an important second language for...

, Manchu
The Manchu people or Man are an ethnic minority of China who originated in Manchuria . During their rise in the 17th century, with the help of the Ming dynasty rebels , they came to power in China and founded the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which...

, Mongolian
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

, Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

, Timorese
Timorese may refer to:* Something of, from, or related to Timor, an island in Southeast Asia** Something of, from, or related to East Timor, a country located on the island of Timor...

, and Vietnamese
Vietnamese language
Vietnamese is the national and official language of Vietnam. It is the mother tongue of 86% of Vietnam's population, and of about three million overseas Vietnamese. It is also spoken as a second language by many ethnic minorities of Vietnam...


The Library has acquired a number of important Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 and Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n language scholarly collections from researchers and bibliophiles. These collections include:
  • Australian Buddhist Library
    In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

  • Braga Collection (Portuguese
    Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

     in Asia
    Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

  • Claasz Collection (Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

  • Coedes
    George Coedès
    Georges Cœdès was a 20th century scholar of southeast Asian archaeology and history. Coedès was born in Paris to a family of supposed Hungarian-Jewish emigres. In fact, the family was known as having settled in the region of Strasbourg before 1740. His ancestors were working for the royal Treasury...

     Collection (Indo-China)
  • London Missionary Society
    London Missionary Society
    The London Missionary Society was a non-denominational missionary society formed in England in 1795 by evangelical Anglicans and Nonconformists, largely Congregationalist in outlook, with missions in the islands of the South Pacific and Africa...

     Collection (China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

  • Luce Collection (Burma)
  • McLaren-Human Collection (Korea
    Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

  • Otley Beyer Collection (Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

  • Sakakibara Collection (Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

  • Sang Ye Collection (China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

  • Simon
    Walter Simon
    Ernest Julius Walter Simon CBE FBA was a sinologist and librarian. He was born in Berlin and lived there, being educated at the University of Berlin, until he fled the Nazis to London in 1934, where he spent all the rest of his life except for brief periods as a visiting professor in various...

     Collection (East Asia
    Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

  • Harold S. Williams
    Harold S. Williams
    Harold Stannett Williams , OBE, was a remarkable Australian who spent most of his adult life in Japan. Born in Hawthorn, Victoria, he studied medicine at the University of Melbourne. At his father's urging he also received Japanese language lessons from a Mr Inagaki who ran a local laundry business...

     Collection (Japan)

The Asian Collections are searchable.

A video introduces the Asian Collections.


The manuscript collection of the National Library contains about 26 million separate items, covering in excess of 10,492 meters of shelf space (ACA Australian Archival Statistics, 1998). The collection relates predominantly to Australia, but there are also important holdings relating to Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and the Pacific. The collection also holds a number of European and Asian manuscript collections or single items have been received as part of formed book collections.

The Australian manuscript collections date from the period of maritime exploration and settlement in the 18th century until the present, with the greatest area of strength dating from the 1890s onwards. The collection includes a large number of outstanding single items, such as the 14th century Chertsey
Chertsey is a town in Surrey, England, on the River Thames and its tributary rivers such as the River Bourne. It can be accessed by road from junction 11 of the M25 London orbital motorway. It shares borders with Staines, Laleham, Shepperton, Addlestone, Woking, Thorpe and Egham...

 Cartulary, the journal of James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 on the HM Bark Endeavour
HM Bark Endeavour
HMS Endeavour, also known as HM Bark Endeavour, was a British Royal Navy research vessel commanded by Lieutenant James Cook on his first voyage of discovery, to Australia and New Zealand from 1769 to 1771....

, inscribed on the Memory of the World Register in 2001, the diaries of Robert O'Hara Burke
Robert O'Hara Burke
Robert O'Hara Burke was an Irish soldier and police officer, who achieved fame as an Australian explorer. He was the leader of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, which was the first expedition to cross Australia from south to north, finding a route across the continent from the settled...

 and William John Wills
William John Wills
William John Wills was an English surveyor who also trained for a while as a surgeon. He achieved fame as the second-in-command of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition, which was the first expedition to cross Australia from south to north, finding a route across the continent from the settled...

 from the Burke and Wills expedition
Burke and Wills expedition
In 1860–61, Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills led an expedition of 19 men with the intention of crossing Australia from Melbourne in the south to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, a distance of around 3,250 kilometres...

, and Charles Kingsford Smith
Charles Kingsford Smith
Sir Charles Edward Kingsford Smith MC, AFC , often called by his nickname Smithy, was an early Australian aviator. In 1928, he earned global fame when he made the first trans-Pacific flight from the United States to Australia...

's and Charles Ulm
Charles Ulm
Charles Thomas Philippe Ulm AFC was a pioneer Australian aviator.-World War I:Ulm joined the AIF in September 1914, lying about his name and age to get in. He fought and was wounded at Gallipoli in 1915, and on the Western Front in 1918.Charles Ulm was married twice. In 1919 he married Isabel...

's log of the Southern Cross.

A wide range of individuals and families are represented in the collection, with special strength in the fields of politics, public administration, diplomacy, theatre, art, literature, the pastoral industry and religion. Examples are the papers of Alfred Deakin
Alfred Deakin
Alfred Deakin , Australian politician, was a leader of the movement for Australian federation and later the second Prime Minister of Australia. In the last quarter of the 19th century, Deakin was a major contributor to the establishment of liberal reforms in the colony of Victoria, including the...

, Sir John Latham, Sir Keith Murdoch, Sir Hans Heysen, Sir John Monash, Vance Palmer and Nettie Palmer, A.D. Hope, Manning Clark
Manning Clark
Charles Manning Hope Clark, AC , an Australian historian, was the author of the best-known general history of Australia, his six-volume A History of Australia, published between 1962 and 1987...

, David Williamson
David Williamson
David Keith Williamson AO is one of Australia's best-known playwrights. He has also written screenplays and teleplays.-Biography:...

, W.M. Hughes
Billy Hughes
William Morris "Billy" Hughes, CH, KC, MHR , Australian politician, was the seventh Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923....

, Sir Robert Menzies, Sir William McMahon, Lord Casey, Geoffrey Dutton
Geoffrey Dutton
Geoffrey Piers Henry Dutton AO was an Australian author and historian.Dutton was born in Kapunda, South Australia in 1922 and died in September 1998...

, Peter Sculthorpe
Peter Sculthorpe
Peter Joshua Sculthorpe AO OBE is an Australian composer. Much of his music has resulted from an interest in the music of Australia's neighbours as well as from the impulse to bring together aspects of native Australian music with that of the heritage of the West...

, Daisy Bates
Daisy Bates (Australia)
Daisy May Bates, CBE was an Irish Australian journalist, welfare worker and lifelong student of Australian Aboriginal culture and society. She was known among the native people as 'Kabbarli' .-Early life:...

, Jessie Street
Jessie Street
Jessie Mary Grey Street was an Australian suffragette, feminist and human rights campaigner....

, and Eddie Mabo
Eddie Mabo
Eddie Koiki Mabo was a Torres Strait Islander who is known for his role in campaigning for Indigenous land rights and for his role in a landmark decision of the High Court of Australia that overturned the legal fiction of terra nullius which characterised Australian law with regards to land and...

 and James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 both of whose papers were inscribed on UNESCO's
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 Memory of the World Programme
Memory of the World Programme
UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and willful and deliberate destruction...

 Register in 2001.

The Library has also acquired the records of many national non-governmental organisations. They include the records of the Federal Secretariats of the Liberal party, the A.L.P
Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party is an Australian political party. It has been the governing party of the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Julia Gillard is the party's federal parliamentary leader and Prime Minister of Australia...

, the Democrats, the R.S.L.
Returned and Services League of Australia
The Returned and Services League of Australia is a support organisation for men and women who have served or are serving in the Australian Defence Force ....

, the Australian Inland Mission
Australian Inland Mission
The Australian Presbyterian Mission was founded by the Presbyterian Church of Australia to reach those "beyond the farthest fence" with God's Word. It is better known as the Australian Inland Mission . Rev...

, the Australian Union of Students
Australian Union of Students
The Australian Union of Students was formed in December 1970 as the successor to the National Union of Australian University Students as a representative body and lobby group for Australian University and College of Advanced Education students. It collapsed in 1984 and was succeeded by the...

, The Australian Ballet, the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust
Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust
The Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust was set up in September 1954 under the guidance of H. C. ‘Nugget’ Coombs, Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Sir Charles Moses General Manager, Australian Broadcasting Commission and John Douglas Pringle, Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. It aimed to...

, the Australian Institute of Urban Studies, Australian Industries Protection League, the Australian Conservation Foundation
Australian Conservation Foundation
The Australian Conservation Foundation is an Australian non-profit, community-based environmental organisation focused on advocacy, policy research and community outreach.-History:...

, and the Australian Council of National Trusts. Finally, the Library holds about 37,000 reels of microfilm of manuscripts and archival records, mostly acquired overseas and predominantly of Australian and Pacific interest.

Reading rooms

The large National Library building is home to various reading rooms and collections. On the ground floor is the Main Reading Room—this is where the bulk of the Library's Internet access terminals are located, and where wireless internet access is available. Services are also delivered on-site from the Petherick Reading Room (for advanced readers) on the ground floor; the Newspaper & Microforms and Map Reading Rooms on the lower-ground floor, Manuscripts and Pictures on level 2, and Asian Collections on level 3. Limited space is also available for readers at the Hume Annexe.


The National Library of Australia hosts the Australian National Bibliographic Database (ANBD) and offers free access through the Libraries Australia Search service. The Library also provides Cataloguing-in-Publication (CiP) details, ISSNs and ISMNs for Australian publishers.

Collaborative resource discovery services

The National Library of Australia provides a national leadership role in developing and managing collaborative online services with the Australian library community, making it easier for users to find and access information resources at the national level. With the development of Trove, all of the National Library of Australia's resources discovery services will be integrated into the Trove service.

Picture Australia

Picture Australia is an Internet based federated search service that allows you to access many significant online pictorial collections at the same time. Over 50 cultural agencies have made in excess of 1,700,000 records from their image collections accessible through Picture Australia.

When you do a search on Picture Australia, thumbnail images are retrieved from participating institutions on the fly and inserted into the search results.

Picture Australia began in 1998 as a pilot project called ImageSearch, involving the Australian War Memorial
Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial is Australia's national memorial to the members of all its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in the wars of the Commonwealth of Australia...

, the National Library of Australia, the State Library of New South Wales
State Library of New South Wales
The State Library of New South Wales is a large public library owned by the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located in Macquarie Street, Sydney near Shakespeare Place...

, State Library of Tasmania
State Library of Tasmania
The State Library of Tasmania is the organisation which runs the library system in the state of Tasmania, Australia. The State Library operates as part of the Tasmanian Department of Education, and maintains close ties with Tasmanian schools and senior secondary colleges.The headquarters of the...

 and State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria is the central library of the state of Victoria, Australia, located in Melbourne. It is on the block bounded by Swanston, La Trobe, Russell, and Little Lonsdale streets, in the northern centre of the central business district...


Following the very strong support received in response to the prototype, it was decided to expand into a new service to include more libraries, galleries, museums, and archives.

The service was launched on 4 September 2000 by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Mr Bruce Scott, in a ceremony at the National Library of Australia and saw significant growth in usage almost immediately. The National Archives of Australia
National Archives of Australia
The National Archives of Australia is a body established by the Government of Australia for the purpose of preserving Commonwealth Government records. It is an Executive Agency of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and reports to the Cabinet Secretary, Senator Joe Ludwig.The national...

 and the University of Queensland
University of Queensland
The University of Queensland, also known as UQ, is a public university located in state of Queensland, Australia. Founded in 1909, it is the oldest and largest university in Queensland and the fifth oldest in the nation...

 Library also joined the service in time for the launch.

Picture Australia won an Australian Financial Review 2000 Australian Internet Award in the Arts category on 28 November 2000.

In early 2006, in an effort to increase contemporary content, Picture Australia embarked on a pilot with
Flickr is an image hosting and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community that was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and acquired by Yahoo! in 2005. In addition to being a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers to...

. The program "People, Places and Events" was successful and a new project called "Ourtown" was established to gain access to images of Australian life and to source contemporary views of historic images in the collection.

Libraries Australia

Libraries Australia is a resource-sharing service coordinated by the National Library of Australia for Australian libraries and their users. It is used for reference, collection development, cataloguing and interlibrary lending. The heart of Libraries Australia is the Australian National Bibliographic Database (ANBD) which records the location details of over 42 million books, journals, newspapers, pictures, maps and more, which are held in over 800 Australian libraries, including academic, research, national, state, public and special libraries. There are now links to over 700,000 digitised collection items available from Libraries Australia.

You can access Libraries Australia from home, work, school, university or from any personal computer with an internet connection.

Libraries Australia is free, easy to use, and extremely flexible. It allows users to:
  • Find information through a simple search
  • Get instant access to many digitised items
  • Borrow through your local library, or order from another library
  • Locate contact details and library locations across Australia

Australian Newspapers

Australian Newspapers is a free online service enabling full-text searching of historic newspaper articles published in each state and territory from the 19th century to the mid-1950s, when copyright applies. The service is managed by the National Library of Australia, in collaboration with the Australian State and Territory libraries.

On 25 July 2008 the Australian Newspapers Beta service was released to the public. The Beta service contains over 3 million articles from 1803 onwards and more content is being added on a regular basis.


In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. As Hesiod related it, each god helped create her by giving her unique gifts...

, Australia's Web Archive, is a growing collection of Australian online publications, established initially by the National Library of Australia in 1996, and now built in collaboration with nine other Australian libraries and cultural collecting organisations.

The name, PANDORA, is an acronym that encapsulates its mission: Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia.

The purpose of the PANDORA Archive is to collect and provide long-term access to selected online publications and web sites that are about Australia, are by an Australian author on a subject of social, political, cultural, religious, scientific or economic significance and relevance to Australia, or are by an Australian author of recognised authority and make a contribution to international knowledge.

Music Australia

Music Australia is an online service that showcases Australia’s musical culture across contemporary and historical periods, from the earliest published music to the latest hit. It is a free resource discovery service, hosted by the National Library of Australia that helps people to find, explore and locate all types, styles and genres of Australian music – whether created, performed or published in Australia or by Australians, or associated with Australia’s musical culture.

You can access and navigate a rich store of information on Australian music, musicians, organisations and services, all from a single access point. You can find music scores, sound recordings, websites, pictures and films, multimedia, kits and objects, and archival collections and other music-related material held by a large number of Australia's cultural institutions or described by specialist music services. Music Australia covers both heritage and contemporary music, and includes all formats, styles and genres.

Australia Dancing

The Australia Dancing portal, hosted by the National Library of Australia and developed out of a project funded jointly by Ausdance, the National Library of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive
National Film and Sound Archive
The National Film and Sound Archive is Australia’s audiovisual archive, responsible for developing, preserving, maintaining, promoting and providing access to a national collection of audiovisual materials and related items...

. The portal provides users with biographical and resource information on Australian dance history and links to digitised copies of many of the resources.

The directory of resources describes dance research materials held by the National Library of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive
National Film and Sound Archive
The National Film and Sound Archive is Australia’s audiovisual archive, responsible for developing, preserving, maintaining, promoting and providing access to a national collection of audiovisual materials and related items...

, with a small number of materials from the State Library of New South Wales
State Library of New South Wales
The State Library of New South Wales is a large public library owned by the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located in Macquarie Street, Sydney near Shakespeare Place...

). The website does not cover any of the specialist performing arts museums (e.g. Queensland Performing Arts Collection; Performing Arts Collection
Performing Arts Collection
The Performing Arts Collection at the Arts Centre, Melbourne is the largest specialist performing arts collection in Australia, with over 450,000 items relating to the history of circus, dance, music, opera and theatre in Australia and of Australian performers overseas.- Highlights of the...

, Arts Centre, Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

; Museum of Performing Arts, His Majesty's Theatre, Perth; South Australian Performing Arts Collection), state libraries other than selected holdings of the State Library of NSW, or state or national archives, which hold extensive dance resources.

Some of the resources in the Directory are accessible in digital formats, such as digitised pictures. Some information is available as electronic finding aids, such as online descriptions of the contents of manuscript and ephemera collections. ScreenSound Australia holdings are described according to their first preservation formats only.


AskNow is a virtual reference service of National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) in partnership with public libraries and is managed by the National Library of Australia. The service is staffed by more than 160 librarians in Australia and New Zealand. It aims to provide high quality information to users, with the convenience of immediate, online communication. Using purpose-built software, it allows librarians and users to interact in real time.

Australian Research Online

Australian Research Online (formerly the ARROW Discovery Service) is an integrated search engine enabling users to search for Australian research outputs (e.g. theses; preprints; postprints; journal articles; book chapters; music recordings and pictures) simultaneously across the contents of Australian university and government research repositories in addition to other collections of Australian research. The records in ARO are harvested from the contributing repositories via the Open Archives Initiative-Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). Each record found through this service links back to a record in the contributing repository.

Register of Australian Archives and Manuscripts (RAAM)

The Register of Australian Archives and Manuscripts (RAAM) is a guide to collections of personal papers and non-governmental organisational records held by Australian libraries and archives. RAAM is a successor to the Guide to collections of manuscripts relating to Australia which was published by the National Library of Australia from 1965 to 1995. The project to convert the Guide to a web-accessible database was a cooperative venture initiated by the National Library with the assistance of a grant from the Towards Federation 2001 Working Group on High Priority Cross-Sectoral Projects. New records were added to the existing 6,000 entries in the Guide to create a database of 29,000 records at the time of release in October 1997. This had grown to 37,000 records by December 2000.

Maps of Australia

Maps of Australia is an online database which provides a geospatial search interface for catalogue records of over 100 000 maps of Australia held in Australia's libraries, from the earliest mapping to the present. By December 2008, there are about 4,000 map images (digitised maps) on Maps of Australia.


Trove is a search engine to locate resources about Australia and Australians, which reaches many locations otherwise unavailable to external search engines. It is a centralised national service built with the collaboration of major libraries of Australia. In the coming years all of the National Library of Australia's resource discovery services will be integrated with Trove.

National Directors

  • 1901–1927 Arthur Wadsworth, Interim Commonwealth Parliamentary Librarian
  • 1927–1947 Kenneth Binns CBE, Commonwealth Parliamentary Librarian
  • 1947–1970 Harold Leslie White
    Harold Leslie White
    Sir Harold Leslie White CBE was the Parliamentary Librarian of Australia from 1947 to 1960, and National Librarian from 1960 until his retirement in 1970, when he was knighted.-Further reading:...

     CBE, National Librarian
  • 1970–1974 Allan Percy Fleming CBE, National Librarian
  • 1974–1980 George Chandler (Librarian), Director-General
  • 1980–1985 Harrison Bryan AO, Director-General
  • 1985–1999 Warren Horton AM, Director-General
  • 1999–2010 Jan Fullerton AO, Director-General
  • 2011–present Anne-Marie Schwirtlich Director-General


The National Library is also a popular recreational and training venue for Canberra's climbing
Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.Climbing activities include:* Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small...

 community. The use of roughly cut granite blocks in the construction of the outer walls has created numerous bouldering
Bouldering is a style of rock climbing undertaken without a rope and normally limited to very short climbs over a crash pad so that a fall will not result in serious injury. It is typically practiced on large natural boulders or artificial boulders in gyms and outdoor urban areas...

 areas. The eastern most section of the northern wall is notably the most popular, however many other sections are also climbed. The climbing consists long traverse problems with the potential for short eliminates. Climbing of the taller sections of the library is discouraged by the management.

External links

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