About NSLA

Strategic plan 2023-2026: Leading together

Note: This is an expanded version of the strategic plan, incorporating the actions in our operational plan for 2023-24.  A two-page strategy and operational plan summary can be downloaded hereLeading together 2023-2026.


A renewed identity

NSLA became an incorporated association in February 2022 after five decades of collaboration between its ten member libraries.

This coalition between the national, state and territory libraries of Australia and New Zealand provides a vehicle to tackle some of the library sector’s most intractable challenges, and creates real opportunities to make change for the common good.

Among our greatest collective achievements are the ‘big bang’ Reimagining Libraries program, revolutionising our approach to library collections, services and collaboration; collaborative newspaper digitisation; tools and public campaigns to further digital collecting and preservation; development of online virtual reference services; consortium purchase of online databases; training in cultural capability and working with First Nations collections; and the National edeposit service (NED), collecting all Australian electronic publications.

Our vision

Our vision is that our collective action creates long-term benefits for our libraries and communities. In order to achieve this, we must ensure that:

  • our collections are connected, rich and sustainable
  • libraries are at the heart of the cultural life of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand
  • our workforce is skilled and diverse
  • libraries are trusted and valued.

Our mission

Our mission as an association is to share knowledge, resources and expertise to advance our libraries and to drive positive, respectful change for the benefit of Australians and New Zealanders.

We do this by supporting professional staff networks and advisory groups, funded projects, research, shared digital infrastructure, collaboration with external organisations, submissions to government, and creation of policies, guidelines, and resources for the library sector.

Members of NSLA acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and Kaitiaki of the lands on which our libraries do their daily work. We are committed to making libraries culturally safe places and to working with First Nations communities and collections in culturally informed and respectful ways.

Our strategic direction

This strategic plan considers the shared priorities of NSLA libraries and identifies where we can be most effective as a collective at this particular moment in time. Individual member libraries will continue to pursue their own jurisdictional strategic objectives alongside the collaborative program.

See below for our four shared strategic priorities for 2023-2026, and actions for 2023-2024.

We will evolve our understanding of and approach to collection development and stewardship. NSLA libraries recognise the need for critical librarianship in the way that we acquire, describe, manage and store collections. This means that we need to be open to interrogating our selection decisions, adapting and updating our use of descriptive language, and respecting cultural protocols that may be attached to collections. Our approach to collection development and stewardship continues to be guided by a combination of library science, data, and relationships. We must also continue to respond to changes in technology – both advantageous and problematic – that govern what and how we collect digitally, and how accessible those digital collections may be.

Actions for 2023-24

Action Purpose Measures
Implementation of NED strategic plan (2023-27), governance model and operational plan for 2023-24 To strengthen the national legal deposit service, ensuring that member libraries are contributing to a sustainable, diverse and accessible collection of Australian published material. New governance model in place from January 2023. Strategic plan endorsed and in operation by July 2023. First year operational plan implemented 2023-24.
EaaSI project (ARC LIEF partnership: Emulation as a Service Infrastructure) To build a national system and network for the emulation of legacy computer operating systems, in order to provide better access to legacy born digital collections. Staff in participating libraries are trained to use EaaSI software. NSLA libraries can provide significantly improved access to older born digital content in their collections.
Shared approach to social media collecting policies and platforms in partnership with academics and First Nations Advisory Group To find a shared solution for negotiations with third party platforms for the collection of social media content as documentary heritage, and for provision of access to that content. To ensure that the cultural, ethical, and privacy issues related to the collection of social media are considered. NSLA libraries have access to shared guidelines for approaching third party platforms. NSLA libraries have shared guidelines for social media collection and access.
Heads of Collections Advisory Group For information-sharing at a senior level regarding collections; auspicing of relevant project work; and provision of advice to the board. Auspiced projects relating to First Nations collections and collection description have been completed. Members are sharing relevant information, offering peer support and problem-solving in a trusted environment.
NED Steering Group & NED Operational Group To ensure the sound management and effective operation of the national edeposit service, and to manage external relations including with publishers. Effective implementation of work scheduled for first eighteen months under the NED strategic plan. Strong and continuing collaborative governance.
Trove Strategic Advisory Committee To provide a voice for NSLA libraries in strategic decision-making relating to Trove. The views and interests of NSLA libraries have been represented in decisions regarding Trove.
Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) To participate in, and benefit from, membership of an international community tackling the shared challenge of preserving digital heritage collections. NSLA libraries directly benefit from the PD opportunities and peer-review services offered through DPC. NSLA is recognised as an active partner and contributor within the DPC’s Australasian stakeholder group.

We will strengthen respectful and responsive relationships between libraries, First Nations library graduates, leaders and professionals, and tangata whenua.

NSLA libraries will continue making changes to policy and practice in order to sustain and insist upon culturally informed and respectful ways of working with First Nations colleagues, communities and collections. We will continue to build and monitor cultural safety for staff within our institutions, with a view to making NSLA libraries welcoming, supportive and desirable places to work for First Nations graduates, leaders and professionals in the sector. Through this continued effort and demonstrated change within each institution, we will strive to build stronger and more enduring relationships between libraries and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Māori and Pasifika communities in Australia and Aotearoa.

Actions for 2023-24

Action Purpose Measures
First Nations collection description guidelines, in partnership with ALIA, CAUL, CAVAL and AIATSIS To act upon one of the most critical recommendations of NSLA’s Culturally Safe Libraries Program: to develop system-agnostic guidelines for description of First Nations collections for use across the library sector. Plain language guidelines for description of First Nations collections are widely used across the library sector. Guidelines have been shared with and adopted by vendors and publishers.
Policies, workshops and resources on Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) To further understanding among collections staff in NSLA libraries regarding Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property. To produce practical resources that will facilitate the application of ICIP within NSLA libraries. Collections staff in NSLA libraries have a sound understanding of the concept of ICIP. NSLA libraries have access to policy templates and practical resources for recognition of ICIP.
Indigenous Knowledges Symposium co-hosted with CAUL and ALIA To work with two library sector peak bodies in sharing current practice and research relating to Indigenous communities, collections and concepts. Symposium has been delivered to a wide audience and has generated meaningful work and connections across the sector.
NSLA First Nations Advisory Group For information-sharing and provision of advice at a senior level regarding First Nations communities, collections and projects within the NSLA program.

Components of the NSLA program relating to First Nations peoples are being appropriately delivered and supported.

Members are sharing relevant information, offering peer support and problem-solving in a trusted environment.

Blakforce (First Nations staff network) To offer peer support to First Nations staff in NSLA libraries in a trusting, autonomous environment.

Strong network of First Nations employees in NSLA libraries sharing relevant information, offering peer support and problem-solving in a trusted environment

OCLC – building upon the Reimagine Descriptive Workflows project To further the work already undertaken as part of this OCLC project, learning from international examples of good practice in collection description, and sharing our work in Australasia.

Strong relationship with peers through OCLC and promotion of Australasian work in developing collection description guidelines

We will recognise and share expertise; develop our people.

Library professionals are driven to help others to seek and learn. NSLA libraries recognise that we must also foster this culture of seeking and learning among ourselves and our colleagues, rewarding curiosity and facilitating lifelong learning. We will continue to provide opportunities for collaboration, and to develop the skills required to collaborate well. We will nourish optimism, courage and tenacity among staff in the work that we do together. We will provide and promote accessible professional development events and resources that draw upon the expertise of colleagues within and outside of NSLA libraries.

Actions for 2023-24




Professional development webinar series for NSLA staff and broader GLAM sector, delivered in partnership with other sector organisations in Australia and New Zealand

To share expertise across NSLA libraries in a cost-effective way.

To raise awareness of the role and scope of NSLA within member libraries, leveraging NSLA’s 50th anniversary.

Delivery of successful webinar series in terms of participant satisfaction, attendance numbers, relationships with co-hosts, and familiarity with NSLA among member libraries.

NSLA networks: Conservation, Oral History, Digital Preservation, Storage, Community Engagement, Visitor Experience, Learning

In-person and online meetings

For information-sharing and professional development between peers working in highly specialised areas of library business

Members are sharing relevant information, offering peer support and problem-solving in a trusted environment.

Consistent attendance at online meetings.

Strong relationships across all NSLA groups.

Publications, resources and web content for NSLA library staff and the library sector

To ensure the widest possible distribution of NSLA expertise and resources.

To ensure engagement with NSLA member libraries, and with the library and GLAM sector.

Reputation in the library sector for reliable, up-to-date and engaging content.

Web statistics reflecting regular use of resources and strong engagement with news and events.

NSLA Heads of Corporate Services Advisory Group

For information-sharing at a senior level regarding corporate services including workforce, cybersecurity, budgets and government relations.

Auspicing of relevant project work and provision of advice to the board.

Members are sharing relevant information, offering peer support and problem-solving in a trusted environment.

Auspiced projects relating to cybersecurity and environmental sustainability are underway.

ALIA Professional Pathways Program (representation on board)

To reconfigure LIS education and qualifications in order to strengthen and sustain the LIS workforce.

Sustained contribution toward ALIA’s agreed qualification framework and PD scheme with new courses on offer.

We will champion equity, access, and the value of libraries.

NSLA’s fifty-year history as a collaboration is founded upon advocacy. We will continue this tradition by speaking on behalf of NSLA libraries and the sector more broadly through government submissions, stakeholder engagement, publications, presentations, social media, and representation on external sector committees with specific agendas for change. We will push for greater visibility as a voice to government and within the GLAM sector, championing the value of libraries and the principles of open and equitable access to information for all.

Actions for 2023-24




NSLA 50th anniversary campaign to highlight and share expertise within NSLA libraries and the library sector

To raise the profile of NSLA within member libraries and the sector.

To improve visibility of NSLA as an advocate for libraries more generally.

To celebrate the achievements of NSLA as a collective and recognise the people who made this work possible.

Improved profile among NSLA member libraries and the library sector.

Reputation for relevant, unique online content (webinars).

Shared vision and sense of purpose for the NSLA board.

Joint submissions in response to government inquiries of relevance

To advocate for the library sector, and for NSLA members particularly.

To retain or strengthen our reputation as a voice of influence in the sector.

Articulate, widely shared responses published for all inquiries of relevance.

Invitations to separate ministerial meetings or committee hearings.

NSLA Copyright Advisory Group

For information-sharing at a senior level regarding copyright policy and legislation.

To ensure up-to-date policies relating to copyright are available on the NSLA website.

All NSLA copyright-related policies are up to date.

Members are sharing relevant information, offering peer support and problem-solving in a trusted environment.

Australian Libraries & Archives Copyright Coalition

Australian Digital Alliance

To collaborate with other sector bodies in advocating for reform of copyright legislation to improve conditions regarding collection access and use.

Progress in copyright reform to improve access to library collections.

Sound understanding of copyright legislation and current issues by staff in NSLA libraries.

Australian Media Literacy Alliance

To contribute to a national media literacy framework.

To equip library staff to assist library users with media literacy needs.

Australian government has adopted a media literacy framework.

NSLA is a recognised participant in delivery of programs within the framework.

Front-of-house staff feel equipped to assist library users.

National Early Language and Literacy Coalition

To ensure the adoption of an early language and literacy framework.

Early language and literacy framework has been adopted at state/territory jurisdictional level.

Australian Open Science Network

To participate in discussion and activity that will further the open science agenda – making research collections as widely accessible as possible.

The principles and practices of open science are broadly understood and adopted in NSLA libraries.

Open Access Australasia

To support discussion and activity that will further the open access agenda – making library collections as widely accessible as possible.

The principles and practices of open access are broadly understood and adopted in NSLA libraries.