National Library of Australia

National Library of Australia
Agency overview
Formed 1960
Preceding agency Commonwealth Parliamentary Library
Jurisdiction Government of Australia
Employees 424 (May 2007)
Annual budget $77.35 million AUD (2007-08)
Agency executive Jan Fullerton, Director-General
Parent agency Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
File:National Library at Dusk.jpg
National Library of Australia as viewed from Lake Burley Griffin

The National Library of Australia is Australia's largest reference library. It was started by the National Library Act. The library has to keep and develop a national collection of library material. This includes a broad and complete collection of library material about Australia and the Australian people. It is in Canberra, the capital of Australia.


The National Library of Australia, was officially set up with the National Library Act, 1960. It had been working as a National Library, not just a Parliamentary Library, since 1901.

In 1901, a Commonwealth Parliamentary Library was started to help the newly formed Federal Parliament of Australia. From its beginning, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library began to develop of a truly national collection. In 1907 the chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Library Committee, Sir Frederick Holder, gave the reasons for having the library. Australia should have a great public library, like the famous Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It would be a home for the literature of the world, for ever.[1]

The library building was opened in 1968.


The Library's collections of Australian objects has become the nation's single most important collection of materials recording the Australian cultural history. The Library collects Australian materials of all kinds including:

  • books
  • serials
  • newspapers
  • maps
  • music
  • ephemera (small unimportant things that are not usually kept)
  • online publications
  • unpublished material like manuscripts, pictures and oral histories.

The Library has good collections in the performing arts, including dance. The Library also has big collections of general overseas and rare book materials, as well as world-class Asian and Pacific collections which add to the Australian collections.

The print collections include large collections of microform. The Library keeps the National Reserve Braille Collection. In total, over 5 million items are held. Films and sound recordings are kept in a separate collection run by the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra.

The Library has digitised over 130,000 items from its collection. The 100,000th was a photo [1]. These digital items can be seen on the Internet. The Library is a world leader in digital preservation techniques.[2] It keeps an Internet archive of selected Australian websites, called the Pandora Archive.


  1. "What We Collect - History of the National Library Collections [to 1980]". Retrieved 2009-02-21.
  2. "PADI - Preserving Access to Digital Information". Retrieved 2009-02-21.