Barbara Lemon, NSLA Executive Officer
Anyone who follows NSLA news will know that we’ve been talking NED for four years.
At last, the moment has arrived. The National edeposit service (NED) was formally launched in Canberra on Friday 16 August, by the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts.
After intensive scoping, planning, building, rigorous testing and a lot of talking based on a long history of collaboration between NSLA libraries, we have in NED a national system for collecting, preserving and accessing Australian electronic publications nationwide. This is a tremendous achievement for NSLA and a boon for all Australians, the true significance of which may not be fully recognised for a generation.
Minister Fletcher spoke at a morning tea event hosted by the National Library of Australia, followed by Dr Marie-Louise Ayres, Director-General of the National Library; Vicki McDonald, State Librarian and CEO of the State Library of Queensland; and, guest speaker, author Prof. Peter Greste.
Minister Fletcher reflected upon libraries as “a physical manifestation of the richness and depth and history of human learning, of human culture, of human civilisation”. He noted the importance of legal deposit legislation, which “buttresses and underpins the work of libraries”.
“What’s enormously exciting about what is being launched today with the National edeposit scheme is the way that the traditional operation of legal deposit is being expanded and refreshed for the 21st century," he said. “We should celebrate the fact that it’s an example of wonderful cooperation between Commonwealth and state and territory libraries, and we should celebrate the fact that this is going to help gather an even wider range of digital material to help all of those libraries perform their core functions and in turn help students, help researchers, help citizens, help everybody who has a need or a desire to access and to retrieve information.”
Marie-Louise Ayres spoke on the importance of building a coherent national collection that reflects the full diversity of Australian publishers and Australian communities, from community newsletters to best-selling novels. She praised NED as a “visionary solution” for the collection of Australia's digital documentary heritage, made possible by a strong history of collaboration between NSLA libraries.
Vicki McDonald offered thanks to all members of the NED Steering Group, the NED IT team and the NED Operational Group for their sustained efforts in the national interest. Special thanks went to Kate Irvine as the former NSLA Executive Officer, for her leadership up to 2018.
“In all that we do through NSLA," she said, “we promote the importance of free and universal access to information, the power of partnership, high professional standards, transparency, honesty and openness, collegiality and generosity of spirit, and an unwavering commitment to public service. These are the values that will continue to see libraries play a vital role in our nation’s future.”
Author Peter Greste described NED as “frankly mind-boggling in its scale, and incredibly powerful in its potential." In an age of information disorder, he said, “having a place like NED, where Australian books and Australian writing at the formal level and the information level, written, recorded, documented, archived and organised…helps restore that sense of [national] identity.
“As an Australian writer with a book of my own in the collection, I feel enormously proud, because it makes me feel that I’m back as a part of this wonderful tradition, this wonderful history of writing, of authorship and of culture that we have.”
The event was attended by representatives in government, publishing and the wider GLAM sector.
Watch a recording of the launch on the NLA Facebook page.
Read more about NED and how it works in this blog post from Kate Torney, Chair of NSLA and CEO of State Library Victoria: When NED rode into town.
Introducing NED overseas and at home
Leading up to the launch, we’ve been introducing NED to colleagues in Australia and overseas through conference presentations and briefings. In June this year, NSLA Executive Officer Barbara Lemon travelled to Hamburg, Germany, to present NED to the Open Repositories Conference on behalf of the NED Steering Group.
The conference welcomed approximately 550 delegates from universities, cultural institutions and research institutes around the world, with the presentation chosen from among 395 submissions.
This was an excellent opportunity to place NED in the context of international efforts to build and sustain research repositories, and to create links between the holdings of collecting institutions. Presentations had a strong technical bent around the theme of user experience and user needs.
NED as a service was distinguished by the strength and complexity of the NSLA collaboration, the sheer range of publishers accommodated, and the incredibly multi-layered functionality of the system behind it – encompassing deposit, data management, preservation, storage, location control, customised access conditions and support for publishers.
The presentation is available online in the University of Hamburg repository.
For those planning to attend the VALA 2020 conference in February, keep an eye out for Barbara and Liz MacKenzie, NED Support Officer, who will present their paper - Introducing NED: Hercules to the Hydra of electronic legal deposit systems - on behalf of the full NED team.