This is a general guide to the type of records found in the papers of an individual that are of interest to the Library. This advice may not apply in all circumstances - please consult with the Pictures & Manuscripts Branch to determine how your papers relate to these guidelines, as some exceptions may apply.

If you are considering offering papers to the Library, please submit your offer or enquiry via our online Collection Offer portal or make an appointment to see our acquisition staff. Please contact us prior to sending or delivering any material to the Library.

What records to deposit?

In accepting the papers of individuals who reflect the diversity of Australian society and culture, the Library focuses on all records of lasting value that document the life of that individual.

The papers of an individual generally fall into three categories - personal, family and professional (relating to their profession or career). Personal papers include correspondence, diaries, speeches, photographs, annotated contact sheets, control registers (job logs), caption lists and many other records created during a private and public lifetime. The Library collects these records in their native format (eg paper or digital).

  • correspondence, emails, notebooks and speeches
  • diaries, memoirs, draft literary works
  • files relating to the individual’s professional life (eg subject or research files)
  • research notes, office and subject files
  • annotated contact sheets, caption lists, job logs, control records
  • reports and submissions compiled or submitted by the individual
  • photographs that are identified and dated
  • selected databases, sound and audio visual material
  • selected publications written by the individual or which are very rare (if not already held by the Library)

This list is only a guide; please consult with us if you have any doubts about the types of records that may be of interest. It may be that the records are unique to you and your life and as such are vital to a complete record or your life or career.

Records the Library may not be interested in:

  • records of short term administrative value that may be destroyed after 5-10 years eg low level financial records such as chequebooks, bank statements, receipt books, booking and travel forms
  • research notes and data if a summary of the data is available and able to be transferred (please consult the Library before you discard these)
  • unsorted bundles of loose papers (if these are worth keeping they should be sorted before sending to the Library)
  • unidentified photographs
  • reference material (articles, books etc written by other people)
  • duplicates or multiple copies of publications

Please refer to our Guidelines for boxing and listing papers for practical information on how to prepare your papers for transfer once they have been accepted.


If you have any questions about the types of records we collect, the transfer process or any other enquiry please do not hesitate to contact us.

Curatorial and Collection Research
National Library of Australia
Canberra  ACT  2600