Friday, February 6, 2015

The Mystique of the National Library of Australia



The Mystique of the National Library of Australia

By Graeme Wong
Spirit News
November 16, 2072

The National Library of Australia is the largest reference library of Australia, responsible under the terms of the National Library Act for "maintaining and developing a national collection of library material, including a comprehensive collection of library material relating to Australia and the Australian people." In 2012–2013, the National Library collection comprised 6,496,772 items, and an additional 15,506 metres of manuscript material.

The National Library of Australia, while formally established by the passage of the National Library Act 1960, had been functioning as a National Library rather than strictly a Parliamentary Library, almost since its inception.

In 1901 a Commonwealth Parliamentary Library was established to serve the newly formed Federal Parliament of Australia. From its inception the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library was driven to development of a truly national collection. In 1907 the Joint Parliamentary Library Committee under the Chairmanship of the Speaker, Sir Frederick Holder defined the objective of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library in the following words:

The Library Committee is keeping before it the ideal of building up, for the time when Parliament shall be established in the Federal Capital, a great Public Library on the lines of the world-famed Library of Congress at Washington; such a library, indeed, as shall be worthy of the Australian Nation; the home of the literature, not of a State, or of a period, but of the world, and of all time.

The present library building was opened in 1968. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Bunning and Madden. The foyer is decorated in marble, with stained glass windows by Leonard French and three tapestries by Mathieu Mat├ęgot.

The large National Library building is home to various reading rooms and collections. On the ground floor is the Main Reading Room—this is where the bulk of the Library's Internet access terminals are located, and where wireless internet access is available. Services are also delivered on-site from the Petherick Reading Room (for advanced readers) on the ground floor; the Newspaper & Microforms and Map Reading Rooms on the lower-ground floor, Manuscripts and Pictures on level 2, and Asian Collections on level 3. Limited space is also available for readers at the Hume Annexe.