NSLA libraries are custodians of cultural heritage for Australians and New Zealanders. They are mandated to collect, preserve and provide access to materials relating to their jurisdictions and to the inhabitants of those jurisdictions. Their collections have vast geographical reach, from Christmas Island to Arnhem Land, Antarctica to the Pacific and South East Asia. The scope of these collections is defined by each library’s collection development policy.
The archival collections of NSLA libraries make a vital contribution to our sense of cultural identity, our documentary heritage, and our intellectual and economic development. They are valued resources for our research communities. They provide tangible links to the past as well as recording living history, preserving our cultural treasures or taonga.
Archival collections incorporate a wide array of materials in physical, digitised and born digital form. They range from manuscripts (handwritten or typescript documents) to photographs, architectural plans, sketch books, music scores, oral histories and memorabilia. Without the preservation expertise and proper control, storage and treatment provided by libraries for both physical and digital materials, they would crumble, fade, decay or become obsolete.
NSLA libraries are guided by the following archival collections principles:
- Public access for current and future generations is the primary driver behind the collection, preservation and storage of archival collections in NSLA libraries.
- The custodianship of NSLA libraries includes responsibility for the preservation and accessibility of archival materials pertaining to Māori and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language, community and culture, in accordance with community guidelines.
- NSLA libraries share expertise and good practice, seeking opportunities for collaboration and improvement while recognising their distinct roles as collectors, conservators and access-providers for their own jurisdictions.
- The maintenance and curation of archival collections requires specialist knowledge given the variation in collection types and formats (including pictorial collections and map collections).
- NSLA libraries use and monitor standards for the description and cataloguing of archival collections in order to make them discoverable online, link to other collections and institutions, and provide context for researchers while complying with responsibilities to donors.