The Library builds capability to maximise return on the nation’s investment. Our capability is what enables us to deliver on our mission to collect, connect and collaborate.Our people, technology, national leadership and financial resources drive significant benefits for the Australian people.Within the Australian Government accountability framework, we manage strategic and operational risks to sustain our public value. In an era of declining trust in public institutions, the Library is maintaining, and strengthening, its role as a trusted knowledge institution.


Everything we do is guided by our organisational values. We are:

  • respectful and inclusive
  • responsive to individual and community needs
  • ambitious, and internationally recognised for our digital innovation
  • tenacious, pursuing priorities over the very long term
  • accountable for the community’s investment in our work.

The Library’s workforce is highly skilled, with deep sectorknowledge. Its demographic character broadly reflects thatof the wider Australian Public Service, but with a slightly older workforce, and a higher proportion of women (including 70 per cent of senior executive staff) and people who identify as having a disability or as being from a non-English-speaking background. Of our staff, 2.5 per cent identify as Indigenous.

During the course of this plan, we will clarify and strengthen our internal governance structures, and focus our training and development investment in core capability requirements:

  • project and program management skills
  • Indigenous cultural competency
  • ability to effectively communicate the value of the Library’s work to a range of funding partners
  • digitally enabled work practices
  • financial and budget management skills
  • commercial competence in a cost-recovery context


The Library’s main building in the Parliamentary Triangle is the centre of its operations, housing reading rooms, public spaces, all staff, most of its physical and digital collections, and the server room that delivers its digital services. The building is Commonwealth Heritage Listed and is maintained through careful allocation of available funds and in accordance with a detailed Conservation Management Plan.

The Library will review options for managing its ageing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems—assessinglong-term requirements and planning work to fit availablebudgets. We will also explore options for replacing our windows, taking into careful consideration the major heritage and cost implications. In 2019–20 the Library will undertake an asbestos remediation project with funding allocated in the 2019–20 Federal Budget.

The Library owns or leases two collection repositories in Canberra, in addition to the main building. Through judicious consolidation of collections, we have deferred the need for new collection storage by several years. However, the Library has now exhausted the available free collection storage space and, by 2020, will be unable to adequately store new Australian publications. Over the life of this plan, the Library must simultaneously find and fund extra storage to manageurgent short-term needs, and prepare a business plan exploring offsite storage options and funding opportunitiesfor the significant storage needs predicted from 2025.


The Library delivers digital services, and operates national infrastructure for the GLAM and research sectors,underpinned by significant investment in technology andcapabilities. The Library’s Information Technology Strategic Plan sets out the goals and outcomes required to sustain these digital operations. The Library’s Technology Roadmap provides the framework for ensuring that its technology infrastructure and capabilities are responsive; sustainable and affordable; trusted and secure; and resilient and highly reliable.

To ensure its digital operations are sustainable and to meet rapidly evolving stakeholder expectations, the Library will focus on aligning business and technology strategies; continuous improvement; and innovation.

Over the next four years, the Library will explore and engage in the development of an open source library services platform to replace an end-of-life library management system that no longer meets its changing business needs. The platform will deliver services andworkflows to support the acquisition, management and description of collection material.

National Leadership

The Library has a leadership position that is unique among Australian cultural institutions, and in the international context.

Over almost four decades, the Library has collaborated with Australian libraries across all states and territories, and across all levels of government. It has delivered infrastructure that reduces the cost of managing collections and makes it possible for Australians to discover and access library materials held anywhere in the country.

The Library has led the way in:

  • exposing diverse and growing digital collections managedand delivered online by GLAM institutions, Australian, state and territory government departments, and research repositories
  • acquiring, preserving and enabling access to digital publications—books, journals, music, maps, websites - in partnership with state and territory libraries
  • digitising, managing and delivering textual materials— newspapers, books, journals, gazettes - at scale.

The Library makes a major contribution to the research and education agenda, especially as the cultural institution taking the lead in research infrastructure discussions and deliberations. As a highly trusted provider of authentic historical and contemporary resources, the Library also makes a major contribution to the digital and data literacy agenda.

The Library is frequently called on to provide training on or advice about descriptive standards, collection preservationand digital services to librarians from across the Asia-Pacific region. As a member of NSLA, the Library will review and refine its international activities, focusing on those that deliver lasting value to the communities in its region.

Government Framework

The Library creates public value by increasing economic, social and intellectual wellbeing. We contribute to government priorities, including:

  • a cohesive and inclusive society
  • a strong digital economy
  • excellence in research and the arts
  • protection of cultural heritage
  • public access to, and participation in, arts and culture in Australia.

The Library creates value by providing onsite and digital services that support research, lifelong learning, creativity, knowledge production and cultural enrichment.

Recognising the importance of the Library’s digital services, the Australian Government has provided $16.4 million over four years starting from 2016–17 through the Public Service Modernisation Fund, primarily to upgrade digital infrastructure. In the final year of this funding, the Library will complete upgrades to critical infrastructure, digitisation of significant Australian content, improved digital engagement pathways and a new business model to assist Trove’s long-term sustainability.

The Library is respected as a national and international leader in the sector. It supports government policy objectives and helps build a strong and effective civil society by giving Australians free access to information and quality education, striving for digital inclusion, and preserving culture and heritage by contributing to soft-power diplomacy in our region and internationally.

Financial resources

Around a quarter of the Library’s income comes from outside government, principally from the national services delivered on a membership-based, co-investment model centred around Trove.

The Library is committed to keeping Trove free for Australians. Open access to a vast collection of digital Australiana, used by tens of thousands of Australians every day, provides a return on investment far in excess of what could be achieved by limiting use to those who can afford to pay.

Over the course of this plan, the Library will focus on maintaining own-source revenue to support a sustainable future for national services, including Trove. This has proven to be a challenge as the libraries and cultural institutions that participate in these services are facing budgetary pressures, and valuable collections are often held and managed by very small organisations that have minimal budgets and are staffed by volunteers.

The Library will continue working with other organisations that see value in using its digitisation and delivery capability, ensuring that charges reflect the costs of storing, managing and delivering content over the very long term.

The Library’s access aims have been generously supported by its donors, Patrons and Friends. We will extend these successes and transition to an ambitious new approach to philanthropy, focusing on the Library’s unique value proposition: its ability to deliver high-quality digital content to all Australians, conveniently, reliably and at scale.


Despite these partnerships, philanthropic support, prudentfinancial management over many years, and demonstrated public value and return on investment, the Library is at high risk in relation to its ongoing financial sustainability. The Library’s digital innovation—combined with its need to care for a heritage building and provision new physical storage facilities—will draw heavily on future non-collection asset budgets. With these expenses increasing further onconclusion of Modernisation funding, the Library’s financial position in out-years will be under severe stress.

Significant capital requirements are either only partiallyfunded (as is the case for the Library’s Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning system, currently at end of life) or completely unfunded (as is the case for physical storage beyond 2020, when the Library’s existing repositories will be full). If these needs are not met, the Library’s ability to grow and care for a significant Commonwealth asset - the Library’s collection, valued at $1.3 billion - is likely to soon be at significant risk.

Risk Management

The Library’s Council, supported by the Audit and Enterprise Risk Committee, oversees enterprise risk management.

The Director-General and Executive are accountable for identifying, monitoring and managing strategic and operational risk in the Library, supported by the Library’s Risk Management Framework.

The Library has a low appetite for risk around the security and safety of its collections, the health and safety of its workforce and visitors, continuity of its onsite services, availability of its digital services, and its legislative and regulatory obligations. It has a higher risk appetite for activities that drive the community’s access to, and engagement with, collections, where bold, small-scale innovation can transform who uses our collections— why, when, where and how.

The Library has identified and will manage key risks relatingto its three strategic priorities and capability requirements.

Priorities Key Areas of Risk


We collect today what will be important tomorrow.

  • Unable to collect and maintain a future-focused collection of national significance
  • Unable to reflect the diversity of the Australian community
  • Unable to provision quality storage facilities for a growing collection


We connect with communities, and connect communities with their national collections.

  • Unable to extend our national reach
  • Unable to meet user expectations for world-class onsite and digital experiences
  • Creative and research communities do not value or utilise the collection


We collaborate with others to maximise the national impact of cultural collections.

  • Unable to manage stakeholder relationships effectively
  • Unable to demonstrate value to service partners
  • Loss of credibility and reputation as a world-class, digitally enabled library


We build capability to maximise return on investment in the Library and its services.

  • Unable to leverage technologies to deliver efficiencies and sustain digital operations
  • Unable to maximise own-source revenue to underpin financial and operational viability
  • Unable to deploy our resources in a way that best supports our strategic priorities
  • Unable to invest in our people and develop key workforce capabilities to sustain Library activity in the mid-term
  • Unable to maintain our heritage building and ensure it is fit for its purpose ofaccommodating both collections and people
  • Our internal governance and accountability arrangements do not support a streamlined and agile organisation using the full capacity of its workforce