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Metal shelves are full of bound volumes in many different colours
A collection storage area at the National Library of Australia

As part of major improvements to our heritage building, the National Library is replacing elements of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. The building roof is also being replaced due to the severe hail damage in 2020. 

Access to parts of our collection will be temporarily impacted from June 2022 to November 2023. 

This means that some requests for deliveries of Library material to the Reading Rooms will not be fulfilled during this period. Orders for copies through Copies Direct will also be affected.

The improvements will take place on a rolling basis. Different collection storage areas will be impacted at different times.

Library visitors should continue to request collection deliveries to the Reading Rooms and place Copies Direct requests as usual.   

If you are planning to visit the Library for research, or you would like to know more about the availability of specific collection items, please contact our Ask a Librarian service.  

Keep reading for more information and some answers to commonly asked questions.

Why does the building work impact collection access? 

Required upgrades to the air-conditioning system are taking place throughout the building, including in dedicated collection storage areas. We’re implementing protections to make sure that our material is safe. These protections mean that Library staff are unable to access some items. 

How will I know if the material I want is available? 

The status of items is listed in the catalogue under the 'Get this' tab. If you attempt to request an item through the catalogue, and the 'request' button is greyed out, then that item is not currently available.

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Screenshot of a library catalogue webpage showing an unavailable catalogue record
This is what the catalogue record for an unavailable item looks like.

For serial publications like magazines and journals, and manuscripts, the 'request' button will still be active. If the volume you have requested is available, it will be retrieved.

The building works schedule may change and you should always check availability before you visit. You can also request information about the availability of items via our Ask a Librarian service and we will advise if the requested material can be retrieved or digitised.

To help you plan your requests the schedule of building works will impact access to different collections around the following dates:

Collections impacted

Anticipated dates of restricted access

Australian Collections (Quarto size) & some serials Late October 2022 to February 2023
Manuscript Collections September 2022 to March/April 2023
Rare & some Asian Language Collections September 2022 to March/April 2023
Pictures Collections May 2023 to August 2023

Maps, Music, Oral History, Australian Formed Collections, Ephemera, Rare Books, Newspapers and Microform, Overseas monographs and serials and all offsite collections are available. The collections are not housed in areas impacted by the building works.

Requesting items with your Library card

If I’ve requested something that is unavailable, how will the Library inform me that my request can’t be fulfilled? 

If your requested item is unavailable, you will be notified via your catalogue account. Please login to your account to check the status of your requests.

Checking your requests

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Rows of shelves are neatly lined with books
A collection storage area at the National Library of Australia

When will my requested material become available again? 

Building works will occur in different areas of the Library at different times from June 2022 to November 2023. Some collections are spread across more than one storage area. 

Contact our Ask a Librarian service for more detailed information on specific items.

Ask a Librarian

Can I still order copies if the material is unavailable?

We can't provide copies if the material is unavailable. If we can't fulfil your request, your Copies Direct order will be closed. You can place a new order once the material becomes available.

How to use Copies Direct

I'm visiting during the building works period. If I request my material before works start, can I extend the reserve period from seven days? 

You can request an extension by contacting our Ask a Librarian service well ahead of your visit. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis depending on the timing of your visit. 

The reserve period for manuscripts can’t be extended. 

Can I increase the number of items I can request? 

If you are visiting for a short period of time to undertake extensive research, an increase to the number of other items you can request may be possible. Contact our Ask a Librarian service well ahead of your visit for more information. 

The limit on manuscripts can’t be raised. 

How can I find out if you have another copy of the item I want? 

The catalogue provides information on materials in different formats, locations and editions. Check the catalogue listing for your item to find out if we have another copy. You can also check whether the item is available online via eResources. Click on the 'Help' tab for more information on how to search eResources.

Getting started with the catalogue

Will access to online material be impacted? 

No. The building works will only impact physical collections. Explore the catalogue, eResources and Trove to browse online and digitised material.

What can I get online?