LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES
The main activities of libraries are the acquisition, collection, organisation, preservation and loan of library materials such as books, magazines, manuscripts, musical scores, maps and prints.
The National Library of Australia (NLA) is the country's largest reference library. The NLA's role is to ensure that documentary resources of national significance relating to Australia and the Australian people, as well as significant non-Australian library materials, are collected, preserved and made accessible either through the Library itself or through collaborative arrangements with other libraries and information providers.
Libraries are increasingly making use of the Internet as a way of enhancing access to information, and the NLA web site at <http://www.nla.gov.au> is an example of this principle at work. It provides on-line visitors with access to information about more than 5,400 Australian libraries, their collections and services via the Australian Libraries Gateway at <http://www.nla.gov.au/libraries>. Over 1,500 of these libraries are public libraries, mainly operated by local governments. Others include school and university libraries, parliamentary libraries, corporate or business libraries, family history libraries and subject-specific libraries.
Public Lending Right (PLR)
PLR is a cultural program of the Australian Government, first established in 1974 and currently administered by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA). It makes payments to eligible Australian book creators and publishers on the basis that income is lost as a result of the availability of their books for loan in public lending libraries. PLR also supports the enrichment of Australian culture by encouraging the growth and development of Australian writing and publishing. Australia is one of 20 countries operating a PLR program.
Some 8,737 book creators and publishers received PLR payments in 2004-05, totalling about $6.5 million (m). The rates of payment under the current PLR scheme are $1.40 per copy of each eligible book for creators and 35 cents per copy of each eligible book for publishers.
Educational Lending Right (ELR)
ELR complements PLR and is another cultural program of the Australian Government administered by DCITA. Commencing in 2000-01 as part of the Government's Book Industry Assistance Plan, ELR was extended in 2003-04 to continue for another four years until 2007-08. An annual survey of the book stock of a representative sample of educational lending libraries (including school, technical and further education (TAFE), and university libraries) is used to determine payments. In 2004-05, 8,995 book creators and publishers received ELR payments totalling about $10.4m.
Further information on the two lending right programs can be obtained from the web site, <http://www.dcita.gov.au> under the heading 'Grants and Funding'.
The 2002 Survey of Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events found that 42.1% of persons aged 18 years and over (6.1 million) visited a national, state or local government library at least once in the 12 months prior to interview (table 12.9). In 1999 the adult attendance rate for libraries was 36.8% (5.2 million persons).
12.9 ATTENDANCE AT LIBRARIES(a)(b) - 2002
|Age group (years)|
|65 and over|
|Main English-speaking countries|
|(a) Attendance at least once in the 12 months prior to interview in 2002.|
(b) National, state or local government libraries only.
(c) The number of people who attended, expressed as a percentage of the number of people in that population group.
Source: Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2002 (4114.0).
The primary function of archives is the permanent preservation of records which are unique because of their administrative, financial, legal, research, cultural or other information value. The records are generally no longer required for the conduct of current activities by government agencies, non-government organisations or individuals.
The National Archives of Australia (NAA) promotes reliable record keeping and maintains a visible and accessible archival collection on behalf of the Australian Government. There are NAA offices and reading rooms in all states and territories, and their national headquarters in Canberra features various public exhibitions such as the Federation Gallery, where Australia's original 'birth certificates', including the Constitution and Queen Victoria's Royal Commission of Assent, are on display.
Archives, as is the case with libraries, are increasingly making use of the Internet to provide access to their records. The Archives of Australia web site, at <http://www.archivenet.gov.au>, provides information about archives in Australia and operates as a portal to the web sites of other Australian archival institutions. These include: the Australian War Memorial, which collects private material concerning Australians at war, and is the custodian of official Commonwealth records relating to war or war-like operations; the National Film and Sound Archive (which was integrated with the Australian Film Commission in July 2003) which collects cultural material relevant to film and sound media; state and territory government archives; and archives established by churches, business corporations, universities and city councils.
LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES INDUSTRY
The ABS Survey of Public Libraries and Archives in respect of 2003-04 found, at the end of June 2004, there were 532 local government library organisations with 1,716 library locations, eight national and state library organisations with 17 locations, and eight national and state archive organisations with 21 locations (table 12.10). The libraries held 52.8 million books and other library materials at the end of June 2004, of which 39.0 million were available as lending stock.
During 2003-04 there were 104.7 million visits to local government, national and state libraries - an average of just over five visits per head of population. Visits to local government libraries accounted for 95% of all visits (99.6 million). At the end of June 2004 there were 10.1 million registered borrowers in Australia. However, 34.9% of these (3.5 million) had not utilised the services of libraries during the 12 months to June 30.
Local government libraries
National and state libraries
|Organisations at end June|
|Locations at end June|
|Library holdings at end June(b)|
|(a) Excludes storage facilities.|
(b) Excludes heritage items for 2003-04.
Source: Public Libraries, Australia, 2003-04 (8561.0).
During 2003-04 there were 137,000 visits to the search rooms of the eight national and state archive organisations. This was an increase of 43,000 on the number of visits during 1999-2000. Over the same period, the number of recorded archival enquiries increased from 218,000 to 245,000. More information from the ABS Survey of Public Libraries and Archives can be found in the Service Industries chapter.
This page last updated 24 January 2007