Access a PDF version of the National Library of Australia's Digital Strategy 2023 - 2024 (PDF, 1.33MB)
Access a PDF version of the National Library of Australia's Digital Strategy Roadmap 2022-2025 Placemat (PDF, 288KB).
Australian society is in the midst of a major digital transition that fundamentally changes the ways in which collecting and memory institutions must operate. The digital deluge – the sheer volume and dynamic nature of content documenting our society, and the need to make sense of, capture, securely store and provide meaningful access to it – is a significant challenge for the Library.
The Library has a track record of delivering innovative technology-based solutions. However, while the Library has successfully scaled low-cost digital services for decades, available resources are insufficient to sustain digital operations for the Library and its partners.
For the Library to continue to deliver its legislated mandate to collect and preserve Australia’s documentary heritage, it will need significant investment. Appropriations do not cover the operations and maintenance of a large application portfolio comprising dated systems, limiting future innovation and the ability to capture today what matters tomorrow.
For the Library to continue to provide world leading digital services like Trove to millions of Australians, it will need significant investment. Our collaboration role is unique amongst cultural institutions and the outcomes of national digital infrastructure have been profound for Australia’s cultural landscape with over 90% of all traffic to NCI websites coming from Trove. While Trove provides access to the content of over 900 partners across Australia and is one of the top 10 most used federal government websites, Trove does not have ongoing Government funding outside of the Library’s base appropriations.
This document outlines an adaptive Digital Strategy which reflects what the Library can achieve with current funding, and what can be achieved if the Library is funded to continue its national leadership and collaboration role.
Please refer to the accompanying infographic outlining the strategic priorities, service profile and national impact that can be achieved in low, medium and high funding scenarios.
The Library exists in an environment that is characterised by rapid change in several areas. Broad national and global trends impacting the Library, outlined in the Library’s Corporate Plan, are:
- a COVID world
- global and national economy
- public expectations of institutions
- changing Australian society
- technology expansion and disruption, and
- intensified competition for skilled workers.
From these trends, we have identified significant drivers that have influenced this Digital Strategy.
Robust cybersecurity capabilities are needed to mitigate the increasing risk of cyberattacks and to meet the Australian Government’s vision to create a more secure online world for Australians. The sophistication and scale of cyber threats continues to increase, increasing the risk to our digital collection and technology operations.
Meeting citizen needs
Australia’s increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse community has a deepening appetite for accessible research and discussion about individual, community and national identity. The community has enthusiastically adopted digital publishing platforms that both enhance and challenge the Library’s ability to
collect documentary heritage.
Our users’ digital capability has also increased with their demand for sophisticated digital services. Library users have increasingly high expectations for engaging with library collections and services online. Meeting this expectation will be challenging. The Library has developed a significant and loyal user base through Trove and its other digital services. These services will need to be sustained and developed to remain relevant, useful, and to continue meeting the needs of a broader cross-section of the Australian community.
Rapidly evolving consumer, business and enterprise technology presents an ongoing challenge.
Adaption: The Library must continue to design and maintain a contemporary technology environment, considering corporate priorities, resource constraints and risk appetite.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Cognitive technologies are increasingly being used to solve business problems and augment staff capabilities and capacity. AI can support important Library needs including: automating business processes, gaining insight through data analysis, and engaging with customers and employees. Commercial and commodity AI services can be applied to a range of Library use cases.
Cloud: The shift to cloud-based technologies is accelerating. Cloud-based infrastructure, platform and software-as-a-service commercial options offer benefits for the Library’s core business and corporate systems, especially with innovation and agility.
Interoperability: The Library must ensure the products and services are interoperable and flexible within the Library’s ecosystem, with external cloud providers and other partners in the research, education, and cultural sector. These Library’s enterprise architecture must also comply with Australian government architectures other relevant industry standards.
Meeting Library needs
Library staffing reductions and the growth in the range and volume of material to be collected and managed, increases reliance on technology. Internal library systems used for day-to-day workflows and knowledge sharing need to be simple, reduce process friction, and leverage improved staff digital capabilities to maximise productivity.
The Library’s reach and impact is based on its technology. Without a significant increase in resourcing, the Library will no longer be able to provide world leading digital services to Australians or fulfil its leadership position amongst Australian cultural institutions.
The Library’s base appropriations have been declining for a number of years. In addition, the Library cannot fund digital operations by taking from resources needed to run its traditional and physical operations. The Library has received additional Government funding for its digital operations in each of the last 5 years. This funding has enabled the Library to sustain digital services. However, short-term funding does not support the medium or longer-term needs.
Digital, data and specialist skills required by the Library are in high demand, and the Library faces very significant challenges attracting and retaining talent.
Build on our strong foundations to deliver a secure, sustainable, innovative, and ambitious digital culture platform for the nation.
The Library’s funding scenario beyond 2023, including the level of support for major digital operations, is unclear. In addition, unprecedented rates of change in technology, culture and citizen expectations are creating more short- and long-term uncertainty.
The Library will respond to these challenges by addressing immediate needs while developing capability for the longer term. The following principles will be used to support decision making in this environment.
Collecting comes first. We will prioritise investment that supports our first responsibility to Collect, ahead of our Connect and Collaborate roles; material of national importance must be captured for future citizens before it is lost forever.
We focus on citizens. We will implement a data-driven and audience-centric engagement strategy, to the extent that our resources allow.
Partnering with co-investment is our preferred model. The Library will be inclusive, engaging and collaborative, with ideas and insights contributed from anyone inside or outside the organisation. We will advocate and pursue shared solutions and infrastructure if a shared investment model can be agreed upon.
We will adopt an adaptive strategy to enable us to respond to multiple investment scenarios. We will continue to build enabling capability so that we can scale up if investment for shared digital infrastructure is made available. We will therefore focus our available digital resources on:
- ensuring all digital investments deliver flexible and cloud-ready outcomes
- critical capabilities needed to perform core Library functions
- advocating for sustainable funding to continue delivering against the Library’s Connect and Collaboration pillars.
Ensure low-cost, sustainable operations. We will achieve maximum return on available investment by:
- having the smallest and simplest possible application portfolio
- managing shared capabilities centrally, to reduce costs and ensure consistent service levels
- develop bespoke solutions for selected digital library services only, or where the market cannot meet requirements.
Use agile and lightweight processes. We will speed up delivery by:
- deploying minimum viable governance approaches to projects and operations
- adopting fit-for-purpose methodologies; waterfall project management only when required
- spending less time planning and refining, and more on execution and delivery.
Balance security and availability by mitigating critical risks and minimising incident impacts.
Our Strategic Priorities
The Library’s vision is to connect all Australians with national collections, enriching our understanding about who we are and our place in the world. The library leads the nation in reaching the full breadth of the Australian community; collects and preserves published, written, oral visual and digital heritage; and provides access to the collections of hundreds of partners.
While the Library’s mission has long been to collect, connect and collaborate, the ways in which we carry out that mission have changed dramatically. The Library must build strong foundations to maximise the nation’s return on its investment in the Library. Increasingly those foundations are digital. Since the 1990s the Library has successfully operated digital services by digitising collections for online access and now leads the nation in reaching the full breadth of the Australian community.
To continue delivering the Library’s vision, we now aim to deliver next-generation digital capability to sustain and grow our online operations, to offer high-value services to other institutions and to ensure that our technology infrastructure and capability is responsive, reliable, sustainable, trusted and secure.
To achieve success across the Library’s Collect, Connect, Collaborate and Capability pillars, a set of business capabilities – what the Library does and what it will need to do differently to operate in a rapidly changing environment – have been identified.
1. Process Automation: Deliver the tools, systems and capabilities to efficiently and effectively execute Library functions and processes.
2. Digital Collecting: Use novel approaches to collecting to social media and new digital formats.
3. Cognitive Technologies: Use AI to support important Library needs by augmenting a smaller collecting and collection management workforce, gaining insight through data analysis, and improving citizen engagement.
4. Audience-Centric Digital Engagement: Meet the citizen expectations and engage our audiences through data driven insights, decision making and personalisation.
5. Sustainable Digital Infrastructure: Continue to design, develop, and run low-cost digital library services that support a growing and diverse digital collection.
6. Scalable Digital Infrastructure: Leverage new technology and additional funding injections as they become available to improve services and scale.
7. Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation: Reduce cybersecurity incidents, minimise the impact of these events, and recover promptly from compromise.
8. Redundant and Resilient Infrastructure: Protect the digital collection, infrastructure and services from cybersecurity threats, physical risks and acts of nature.
9. Digital Workplace Digital Workforce: Delivering the tools, systems and capabilities to efficiently and effectively execute Library functions and processes.
A set of 9 strategic priorities, outlining the approach and initiatives to develop, create or acquire the business capabilities required to implement the digital strategy, follow.
1. Streamline collection workflows for increased collecting efficiency
The Library will streamline our collection workflows and automate high-volume and repetitive workflow steps. While this initiative may implement AI (which is covered separately) its primary aim is to implement efficient processes and systems rather than leverage ground-breaking technology.
We will replace our Library Management System with a next-generation library services platform.
We will implement workflow automation to increase collecting capabilities. We will review system integrations to build workflow efficiency.
2. Collect new and emerging digital material and formats
The Library will increasingly focus on collecting digital and online content. To support this, we will invest in new two digital collecting capabilities: one for large scale collecting of websites; and another for collecting of social media.
We will use public data sources and browser-automation to improve the quality and scale of contemporary web collecting and explore alternatives to web crawling for collecting social media content.
Our web archiving infrastructure will be replaced and serve as a platform for new ways of collecting.
3. Use AI to augment the Library’s collecting workforce
We will identify Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning services to integrate with our collection description and management processes.
Use mature commodity AI and ML for low-risk high-value workflow steps and low-risk collections and use cases.
Improve our digital collection management system support for AI and ML processing.
4. Support for a digital-first data-driven engagement strategy supporting better services to contemporary Australian communities
Audience-Centric Digital Engagement
Ensure Library outputs deliver intended business benefits and outcomes, using data driven insights and decision making. This is key to supporting the Library’s engagement initiatives in measuring and tracking their success.
Develop KPI reporting processes and an enterprise analytics platform to support data driven decision making.
5. Ensure continuation of low-cost, fit-for-purpose infrastructure, digitisation systems, National edeposit and Trove Sustainable Digital Infrastructure
Through new investment in our Enterprise Architecture capability and Application Portfolio Management processes, we will architect to increase the sustainability of Trove and other key public digital services used by over 25 million Australians each year.
Create a transition roadmap for decoupling applications into loosely integrated services that operate in the cloud.
Identify and reduce functional duplication across our applications.
Identify and decommission low-value applications and divest application portfolio functions.
6. Seek funding to build next-generation shared NCI Infrastructure
Scalable Digital Infrastructure
The Library and Australia’s National Collecting Institutions will continue to explore a shared cloud-based solution to digitisation, digital collection storage and access needs. We will seek funding to design and develop infrastructure and systems for a future joint NCI digital platform.
Decouple our applications using contemporary scalable practices.
Decompose our systems and applications into services aligned to business capability using composable architecture and other contemporary practices.
Implement APIs managed through an API management platform to further support scalability and integration.
If additional funding is provided, we will apply these approaches at scale to facilitate a national shared digital platform.
7. Lift cybersecurity maturity
Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation
Reduce cybersecurity incidents, minimise the impact of cybersecurity events, and recover promptly from compromises.
Implement Risk Based approach to tackling Cybersecurity and Internal Audit Recommendations.
Focus on improving Essential 8 compliance.
8. Operationalise digital business continuity and disaster recovery infrastructure
Redundant and Resilient Infrastructure
In the event of a Library disaster or incident impacting digital infrastructure at Parkes, resume digital operations of critical systems from the disaster recovery site within Maximum Allowable Outage parameters.
Deliver offsite disaster recovery solution to cover priority applications.
9. Uplift digital and data capabilities, develop communities of practice, and deliver self service data and analytics
Digital Workplace Digital Workforce
Reduce system and process friction and replace with fast, easy access to corporate data, knowledge and information and support collaborative ways of working with anytime/anywhere access.
Implement an integrated collaboration platform, enterprise content and document management system and intranet and social network.
Deliver a new self-serve KPI and analytics platform.
Roll-out contemporary, mobile and digital workplace tools for staff.
How We Will Deliver
This Digital Strategy lays out what the Library needs to do to continue to serve the millions of Australians that use our services regularly. We will rely on governance initiatives to optimise the prioritisation, management and delivery of digital services. We have three key strategies to deliver the right mix of direction, oversight and capability. The extent to which we can deliver the strategy will depend on additional funding. Without additional investment only a limited number of our strategic priorities will be delivered.
We will continue to strengthen our digital governance processes by implementing fit-for-purpose processes and oversight.
We will develop and implement a product management operating model and supporting service catalogue.
These initiatives will mature the digital service delivery model, allowing for better prioritisation, planning, and resource management across our digital portfolio.
2. Enterprise Architecture
We will leverage our developing Enterprise Architecture capability to maximise our technology investment to ensure its cost-effective alignment with business priorities. The Library will continue to develop and follow a Technology Roadmap. This roadmap will use industry standards and platforms, be consistent with whole-ofgovernment enterprise architecture frameworks and apply composable architecture ideas. We will develop a continuous improvement approach to technology road mapping. Our Enterprise Architecture capability will prioritise decision making based on whole-of-library benefit.
3. People and Culture
Developing competencies to meet the demands of emerging technologies
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, along with other emerging technologies, are key to the Library’s objectives to deliver new capabilities and efficiency in collecting, describing and more effectively discovering collections. Acquiring and developing AI and ML skills to support innovation is a challenge for organisations.
Beyond a skilled workforce to design and develop systems based on these emerging technologies, the Library’s broader workforce will need to develop new competencies and ways of working in response.
Equip and empower all Library staff to build digital capabilities and products
We have identified enabling changes, such as a re-focus on forming and supporting multidisciplinary digital and business teams, to support the development of these new competencies. We have a track record of strong, integrated teams delivering value through digital projects. These multidisciplinary teams will blend technology and domain expertise to align business outcomes and enabling technology. With support from Library management, and other key technical teams, the Library will be better placed to grow and identify the competencies it needs to support.
Attracting and retaining skilled staff
The Library faces increased competition for attracting and retaining digital talent. The market for digital staff is very competitive and the Library faces challenges offering competitive conditions and salary against consultancies, the contractor market, and other larger organisations.
We have identified supporting initiatives to offset some of these challenges. The Library presents a compelling choice for prospective employees with its vision and mission, its unique collection, its dedicated and passionate workforce, and its track record of digital innovation. Will will continue to leverage these attributes, enabling staff to connect their work to the Library’s purpose.
Data and analytics literacy
The prevalence of data and analytics and the increasing reliance on data supported decision making will demand a data literate workforce. The digital strategic initiatives to further develop the Library’s data capture and analytics capabilities will place more emphasis on fact-based decision making. Library staff will need to increase their literacy in reading, writing, and understanding data in context. Training and literacy development will be a whole-of-Library approach, with Human Resource and business leaders working together to develop training programs and literacy development strategies that go beyond training that only offers proficiency in the use of tools and products. Communities of practice and product teams will facilitate upskilling and information sharing, further supporting the data skills within the organisation.
Investment Cost Comparison
The investment cost comparison radar outlines the relative cost for each of the initiatives.