NSLA Contemporary Collections Audit

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This report was commissioned by the National and State Libraries of Australasia (NSLA). This research is stage 3 of a 4-stage research process. It focusses specifically on original collections acquired since 2010 that relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The participating libraries were the State Library of Queensland (SLQ), the State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW), the State Library of Western Australia (SLWA) and the National Library of Australia (NLA). All of the participating libraries
had challenges and successes, with common themes emerging across the four participating libraries. This report focusses on the five main collection acquisition methods rather than the individual library’s practices. It found that the majority of collections, both the content and the processes, are about Indigenous people rather than by Indigenous people. Indigenous representation and consultation in the contemporary collections acquisition process is influenced by the mode of acquisition and
whether the vendor/donor of the materials is Indigenous or non-Indigenous. Recognition of ICIP rights
holder is sporadic at best with copyright still taking precedence over ICIP rights. Similarly, consent for
access is often determined by the materials’ donor/vendor without due diligence to Indigenous
subjects of the record. Indigenous self-determination in the collections acquisitions process would benefit from stronger relationships between Indigenous communities and libraries. Within the library, staff lack confidence in dealing with ICIP obligations, and collections and cataloguing teams lack Indigenous staff. The audited collections with these issues are the collections that are now in a restricted access limbo. This audit also revealed some wonderful examples of partnerships between libraries and Indigenous communities. Going forward it will be important for libraries to build stronger relationships with communities and integrate ICIP protocols into their core business to ensure a robust and representative collecting practice.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNational and State Libraries Australasia
Commissioning bodyNational and State Libraries of Australasia
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • libraries
  • Indigenous archives
  • Indigenous cultural and intellectual property
  • Indigenous knowledges
  • Metadata


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