The main activities of libraries are the acquisition, collection, organisation, conservation and loan of library materials such as books, magazines, manuscripts, musical scores, maps and prints.
The National Library of Australia is Australia's largest library. It was established as a separate entity in 1960 by the National Library Act. The Library, formerly known as the Commonwealth National Library, grew out of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library which was established in 1901.
The Library builds and maintains a national collection of Australian library materials and provides an effective gateway to national and international sources of information. The Library acquires Australian printed material (monographs, serials, maps and music) using the Legal Deposit provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 and other formats and materials through purchase or voluntary deposit. The National Library identified as its goal for the years 2000 to 2002 that all Australians, at their place of choice, will have access to both Australia's documentary heritage and the information resources of the world.
In recent years the Library's Internet site has become a primary means of information service delivery for both on-site and off-site users. The continued development of Kinetica, a modern Internet-based service for Australian libraries and their users, represents a significant advance in the Library's use of information technology. The core of Kinetica is the National Bibliographic Database (NBD) which records the location details of over 10 million items in more than 1,000 Australian libraries. Through Kinetica, libraries also have access to other databases, including the USA's Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN database) which has over 30 million bibliographic records.
Public Lending Right
Public Lending Right (PLR) is a cultural program of the Commonwealth Government, administered by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, which makes payments to eligible Australian book creators and publishers on the basis that income is lost from the availability of their books for loan in public lending libraries. It also supports the enrichment of Australian culture by encouraging the growth and development of Australian writing and publishing. Australia is one of 15 countries operating a PLR program.
The Public Lending Right Act 1985 provides the legislative framework for the PLR Scheme. A Public Lending Right Committee is appointed by the Minister to administer the Scheme and the Act provides for the gazettal of a PLR Scheme by the Minister.
Payment is determined by the number of copies of eligible books that are held in public lending libraries. This information is obtained from an annual survey of the books held in a sample of public lending libraries. If 50 or more copies of an eligible book are estimated to be held in Australian public lending libraries, a payment may be made.
Books are surveyed annually for three consecutive financial years following their year of publication. If, in the third year, a book is still held in sufficient numbers in public lending libraries, it will be resurveyed once every three years. Books with less than 50 copies in the third or subsequent surveys are dropped from the survey cycle.
Some 8,253 book creators and their publishers received PLR payments in 1999-2000, totalling almost $5.4m. The PLR rates of payment under the current PLR Scheme are $1.25 per copy of each eligible book for creators and $0.3125 per copy of each eligible book for publishers.
The 1999 Survey of Attendance at Selected Culture/Leisure Venues provides data on persons aged 15 years and over who attended a National, State or local government library at least once over the 12 month survey period. Table 12.10 shows that almost 5.7 million people (38.1% of the Australian population aged 15 and over) attended one of these libraries at least once during the 12 months ending April 1999.
An ABS survey of libraries in respect of 1999-2000 showed that there were 99.4 million visits to local government, national and State libraries, an 11.0% increase in visits since 1996-97. There were 54.3 million books and other library materials at the end of June 2000, of which 36.4 million were available as lending stock. Additional data on the libraries industry are shown in Service industries.
Reading habits and book buying
A household survey conducted in February 1995 by the ABS revealed that 87.9% of males and 82.4% of females aged 18 and over had read a newspaper in the week prior to the survey. The survey also found that 46.8% of males and 57.8% of females aged 18 and over had read a book in the week prior to the survey.
An ABS Survey of Aspects of Literacy in 1996 measured the ability of people aged 15 to 74 to use and understand everyday prose and documents (magazine articles, brochures, medicine labels, bus timetables etc.). The survey found that 63.8% of people read newspapers or magazines daily, 33.2% read books daily and 11.1% used a public library at least weekly (table 12.11).
In all, about 2.6 million people were assessed as having very poor prose skills (Level 1 rating) in 1996. Of these, 52.7% read newspapers or magazines daily, 21.4% read books daily and 6.3% used a public library at least once a week.
In contrast, 70.4% of the 2.3 million people with good/very good prose literacy (Level 4/5 rating) read newspapers or magazines daily, 47.0% read books daily, and 15.8% used a public library at least weekly.
12.10 ATTENDANCE(a) AT LIBRARIES(b) - 1999
|Sex -|| |
|- Male |
|- Female |
|- Total |
|Age -|| |
|- 15 to 24 years |
|- 25 to 34 years |
|- 35 to 44 years |
|- 45 to 54 years |
|- 55 to 64 years |
|- 65 years and over |
|Birthplace -|| |
|- Australian-born |
|- Overseas-born |
|(a) Attendance in the 12 months prior to interview.|
(b) National, State or local government library only.
Source: Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues, April 1999 (4114.0).
Data were collected from 207 employer businesses predominantly engaged in book publishing in 1999-2000. Table 12.12 shows that these organisations generated $1,290.0m in income, of which $1,199.6m was from the sales of books. Of the total book sales, $736.2m was attributed to Australian titles.
12.11 SELECTED LITERACY-RELATED ACTIVITIES IN DAILY LIFE, By Prose Skill Level - 1996
or magazines daily
Read books daily
Wrote material more than one page in length at least weekly
Used a public library
at least weekly
|Skill level(a) |
|Level 1 |
|Level 2 |
|Level 3 |
|Level 4/5 |
|(a) Level 1-very poor, Level 2-poor, Level 3-average, Level 4/5-good/very good. |
Source: Aspects of Literacy: Assessed Skill Levels, Australia, 1996 (4228.0).
The primary function of archives is the permanent preservation of unique records, selected because of their administrative, financial, legal or other information value. The records are generally no longer required for the conduct of current activities by government agencies, non-government organisations or private individuals. While much archival work is an adjunct to other activity, a growing number of archival bodies, funded by governments and private sources, employ specialist staff to serve the legal, administrative and research needs of individuals and organisations.
The National Archives of Australia is the Commonwealth organisation, established by the Archives Act 1983, responsible for the broad management of the range of Commonwealth records. It has offices and reading rooms in all the States and Territories. The national headquarters in Canberra also houses the Treasures Gallery, the Exhibitions Gallery and the Federation Gallery. Constructed as part of the Centenary of Federation, the Federation Gallery houses Australia's original birth certificates including the Constitution and Queen Victoria's Royal Commission of Assent. The National Archives administers the legislative framework for Commonwealth records management (including arrangements for the disposal of records), maintains information systems, provides appropriate custody and preservation arrangements (including archival storage) and makes records available under the relevant legislation. Records covered by the Act occur in all formats including files, index cards, architectural models, photographs, films, video tapes and electronic media. It also curates touring exhibitions, produces publications based on its collections, and presents education and events programs. The Archives database 'Recordsearch' and many of its record keeping publications and reference guides are now on-line. The Archives also maintains the 'Documenting a Democracy' website (at http://www.foundingdocs.gov.au) presenting 99 founding documents of democratic governments in Australia.
Each State and Territory Government also maintains its own archives and provides for public access to records. In addition, archives have been established by some churches, business corporations, universities and city councils. The Australian War Memorial collects private material concerning Australians at war and it is also custodian of certain official Commonwealth records relating to war or warlike operations. ScreenSound Australia collects cultural material relevant to the film and sound media. Other corporate and private records continue to be collected by some State archives offices, libraries and universities.
The National Archives has established an Internet site 'Archives of Australia' (at http://www.archivenet.gov.au), which enables all other archives in Australia to place information about themselves and their holdings on the Internet.
12.12 BOOK PUBLISHERS, Key Aggregates - 1999-2000
|Organisations at end June 2000|
|Sales of all books -|
- Sales of Australian titles
- Sales of imported titles
|Sales of other goods|
|Average income per business |
|Wages and salaries paid |
|Royalties and fees paid |
|Total expenses |
|Average expenses per business |
|Ratio of royalties and fees paid to sales of Australian titles|
|Export sales of books|
|Internet sales of books|
|Operating profit before tax |
|Profit margin |
|Industry Value Added|
|Source: Book Publishers, Australia, 1999-2000 (1363.0). |
This page last updated 20 August 2007