An aerial view of the National Library building featuring an angled orange roof

Find out about our building works

The National Library is making improvements to our much-loved heritage building.  Follow our progress as we protect the collection and maintain our beautiful building by:  

  • Updating part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system 

  • Improving how we store the collections kept on site 

  • Restoring some of the brass framed heritage windows  

  • Replacing the copper roof that was severely damaged in the 2020 hailstorm 

  • Refurbishing the digitisation and photography labs. 

The collection grows, on average, by 2-2.5kms per year. The building improvements have been designed to ensure we use our available space as efficiently as possible and safeguard the collection for future generations. 

All building works have relied on the advice of and input from conservators, heritage experts, architects and engineers. 

Hear from Doug Walsh, Director of Capital Works at the National Library, about key building activities from December 2023 to February 2024 in our building works December update video.

How our building works will impact you

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning 

The Library stores part of the collection on site in areas that are not open to the public. When you visit the Library you can request collection material to be delivered to the Reading Rooms. As part of our ongoing stewardship and care for these collections, the Library is upgrading about a third of the HVAC system – focusing on the areas where these collections are stored. 

While visitors may hear some noise filtering through to the Reading Rooms, exhibition galleries, Bookplate and Bookshop, the Library took advantage of the lockdowns and continued the HVAC works while the building was closed to the public. 

Temporary changes to collection access

Some collection storage areas will be temporarily closed, limiting access to some collection material. The improvements will take place on a rolling basis from 6 June 2022. Different collection storage areas will be impacted at different times. 
Library visitors should continue to request collection deliveries to the Reading Rooms as usual.

To help you plan your requests, the following three tables outline what collections are currently unavailable, the collections closing soon, and what is currently available: 

Collections currently unavailable

Collections impacted Access status

Pictures Collections - Hanging Art Works on screens

Please contact our Ask A Librarian service service for information about Pictures Collections availability

Unavailable May 2023 to September 2024

Most of the Ephemera Collections

Please see table below for the Ephemera Collections that are still available

Unavailable February 2024 through to end of April 2024

Collections closing soon

Collections impacted Access status
Rare Books and Fragile Collections stored on Level 2 Unavailable 1 June 2024 through to 1 September 2024
Asian Collections stored on Level 3 Unavailable 1 July 2024 through to 30 June 2025

Collections currently available

Collections  Access status
All offsite collections Available
Australian Collections (Quarto size) & some serials Available
Australian Formed Collections Available

PROMPT performing arts ephemera collection

Ephemera relating to Australian federal election campaigns

Manuscript Collections Available
Maps Collection Available
Music Collection Available
Newspapers and Microform Available
Oral History Collection Available
Overseas Monographs and Serials Available
Rare Books Available
Rare & some Asian Language Collections Available
Pictures Collections (excluding Hanging Art Works on screens) Available

More information and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on our page on temporary changes to collection access

Find out more about the temporary change to collection access


The ageing window frames on the two sides of the building facing Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and Patrick White Lawns will be gradually replaced from March to October 2023.  

The windows on the ground floor, including the stained-glass windows, are not being replaced over this time period – the work will happen on level 1 to level 4. 

Scaffolding and hoardings will be installed so the windows can be replaced and there will be some noise filtering through into the building. 

Close-up of windows from the exterior of the National Library building

Interesting fact - the windows are installed vertically – and will be replaced vertically. 


The gleaming copper sheeting has been installed, building works are continuing underneath the roof. Level 4 of the building is closed to the public while the roof works are underway.  

Improvements to digitisation and photography areas 

One way the Library provides access to its collections is by creating and making accessible on Trove digital copies of physical collection material (digitisation). The workspaces devoted to this work have been modernised and increased in size in order to meet the growing demand for digitised content. This work was completed in 2022.


These projects have been funded by the Australian Government, including from the Library’s annual appropriation or special projects funding. Insurance is helping fund the roof restoration.