Understanding Asia: sixty years of collecting by the National Library of Australia [poster]

ALIA Library

Hardi, Wishnu

Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference 2018, 30 July - 2 August 2018 Gold Coast: Roar Leap Dare
This conference poster presentation outlines the history of the National Library of Australia (NLA) in collecting and providing access to Asian language library material so that Australians can study counties in our region in their languages.
The primary function of the National Library of Australia is to ‘maintain and develop a national collection of library material, including a comprehensive collection of library material relating to Australia and the Australian people’.  Since the 1950s the Library has actively built a large, significant and growing collection of Asian language library material to fulfil this mandate.
The Library’s overseas collecting priority is to acquire contemporary publications from East and South-East Asia across the humanities and social sciences to support high-level research. Since Asian collecting began in the 1950s the Library has built Australia’s largest collection of Asian material that now numbers over 600,000 volumes. Collecting is strongest from Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Myanmar. However, the Indonesian collecting program provides for the Library’s strongest ties with the local community and a direct opportunity for regional engagement.
The Library employs four locally based staff in Indonesia specifically to ensure acquisition of material only available on the spot and for short periods, including semi-published and occasionally controversial primary source materials that are not able to be acquired through established vendors.  It is this kind of collecting that is attracting the interest by scholars from around the world and is the strength of our activities. The Library’s Indonesian collection is considered to be among the strongest collection of contemporary Indonesian material in the world and it is a valuable national resource. It is used by the academic and research sector both within Australia and overseas and supplies unique primary and secondary source research materials supporting in-depth study of Indonesia.
The total collection now numbers about 200,000 books, 5,000 periodical titles, 250 newspapers and thousands of reels of microfilm and sheet maps. The Library is actively increasing collecting of ephemeral material such as election posters and websites to meet demand from researchers. Many Indonesian government publications held by the Library are not held by any library or government agency in Indonesia. It is the largest such collection in Australia and compares favourably with other major contemporary collections on Indonesia such as the US Library of Congress and the British Library.



Deakin, ACT: Australian Library and Information Association
National Library of Australia