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History and background 

In 2007, the NSLA members announced their intention to increase their work together to accelerate change in their libraries, with particular emphasis on new digital services, processes and infrastructure. This announcement was The Big Bang: Creating the new library universe. It articulated key concepts that still resonate, including: digital is mainstream; no job will be unchanged; experimentation and risk are necessary; and some things we have always done, we will no longer do.

The Big Bang was followed by NSLA’s Re-imagining Libraries strategic plans 2007-2014, built on priorities that were encapsulated as: one library; accessible content; and enabling people. This strategic framework underpinned an effective and integrated collaboration involving hundreds of staff.

There have been enormous professional benefits through these years of active collaboration for both our libraries and our staff. We now share far greater understanding of the other NSLA libraries and have established networks of specialists across many of our core areas of responsibility.

Re-imagining Libraries tested ideas, articulated joint positions on broad and specialist issues, shared data and technical solutions, benchmarked, piloted services, aligned communications and policies, implemented standard systems, worked with diverse partner organisations, and enhanced national systems. It illuminated priorities and questioned practices. It delivered major benefits to the people of our jurisdictions.

Leading Collaboration, NSLA’s strategic plan for 2015-2017, was released in April 2015.

Achievements 2007-2014

Notable achievements for NSLA during Re-imagining Libraries include:

  • Development of a technical solution and building an international partnership to build a global file format registry for effective long-term digital preservation – the foundation for preserving digital content.
  • Creation of detailed tools to assess organisational capability for digital preservation and skills – an essential enabler to fulfil our mandate to preserve heritage in all its documentary forms.
  • Endorsement of policies and guidelines for working with Indigenous communities, supporting Indigenous language collections and partnerships, and working with culturally sensitive materials – a key support for cultural recognition and enhancement.
  • Development, launch and continuous improvement of the TROVE national discovery service; led by the National Library of Australia, TROVE now includes web archiving, born digital and made digital content including more than 15 million pages of historical newspapers – a boon for local and family historians, students and researchers.
  • Establishment of the NSLA eResources Consortium for joint purchasing for subscription databases – providing rich resources to the people of Australia and generating considerable savings annually for member libraries.
  • Presentation of submissions to more than 50 government and related inquiries on issues including copyright, broadband access, heritage strategies, literacy, Indigenous information, and education – articulating the central importance of access to information and preservation of heritage.
  • Advancing the library sector through research, benchmarking and best practice projects for collection formats and specialist functions including collection storage, community created content, online delivery, maps, large picture collections and archival collections – the outcomes of these projects are made widely available to improve practice, productivity and outcomes.
  • Creation and application of the Libraries Learning Maturity Matrix for assessing the integration of learning principles and practice – providing a framework for planning and evaluation that has been adapted for use nationally and internationally in libraries and in other sectors.
  • Building community capacity through public seminars and specialist workshops on disaster preparedness for cultural organisations, digital collecting, heritage collections, valuing pictures and archives, information services, and the role of libraries in community learning – sharing our expertise widely.

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