Embracing digital change

Embracing digital change
electronic deposit 18 months on
1 August 2017

Ipad sitting on shelf of books

In February 2016, near the end of a bright, hot summer, the National Library of Australia welcomed long-anticipated changes to the Copyright Act with genuine excitement. For the first time in its history, the Library could at last collect electronic publications under the legal deposit provisions of the Act.

Now, some 18 months later in the midst of a foggy Canberra winter, that excitement has not abated. If anything, it has intensified as our electronic collections expand exponentially, building a rich and diverse resource for Australians now and into the future.

What have we collected?

Since the new provisions, the Library has collected:

  • over 5,900 ebooks - an astronomical increase on the 300 or so ebooks collected in the previous twelve months
  • over 19,000 electronic issues across nearly 1,100 e-journals, magazines and newsletters
  • almost 150 electronic music scores, and
  • an astounding 10,151 e-map files.

Lady at computer cataloguing edeposit maps

Cataloguing electronic maps through our new edeposit workflows

Who has deposited?

The support received from the Australian publishing industry has been very encouraging and has undoubtedly contributed to these very positive results.

Over 500 publishers have deposited electronically so far, including:

  • large publishing houses
  • small commercial presses
  • self-publishers
  • federal departments
  • local government agencies
  • think tanks
  • academic organisations
  • local societies
  • community organisations.

They have deposited current titles and backlist titles and issues.

How do publisher’s deposit?

A critical factor in this success has been the Library’s edeposit service. The service went live on the day the legislation came into effect, and allows publishers to securely deposit their electronic publications, in a streamlined transaction.

We have also developed bulk ingest processes, which enable commercial publishers and map producers to deposit multiple files at once. We are particularly indebted to Penguin Random House, Wiley and QTopo for their assistance in this development work. We are currently working to expand these processes in order to accept content from a wider variety of commercial publishers.

How can you access the edeposit collection?

Through the edeposit service, publishers select the access conditions to be applied to their publication. This makes it possible for publishers to agree to a broader level of access than permitted under the Copyright Act. The proportion of material available off-site is significant – over one third of material deposited so far allows open or view-only access, meaning that these publications are available via Trove to Australians wherever they live or might be.

Many publishers, of course, are unable to grant this due to the need to protect their commercial interests. The Library is also committed to protecting these interests. For this reason, and in accordance with Copyright provisions, commercial material is only available in the Library’s reading rooms within a secure, technical environment, unless permission has been granted for open access.

A sample of edeposit titles received via edeposit

Just some of the community titles we have received via edeposit so far. Explore these titles.

A community collection

A large proportion of open access and non-commercial content comes from community and local organisations, covering a wide range of subject matter. The array of Australian community publications is impressive, whether produced by a remote community to let residents know about events impacting their lives, or publications by enthusiastic and knowledgeable groups, which link stamp collectors or animal lovers from Launceston to Broome, or connect people of a particular faith or ethnic background.

Many of these titles are 'born digital' and may not have previously been accessible via a Library anywhere. These publications, in all their variety, contain a wealth of information and interest. They broaden our understanding of what passions bring different Australians together and how they construct connections with each other. By collecting this material and making it accessible, the Library is also playing a part in bringing these diverse and sometimes geographically dispersed communities closer together.

Embracing the digital shift

Staff have overwhelmingly embraced the cultural shift involved with the changing workflows for acquiring, describing and making accessible digital publications. This shift has required greater collaboration across teams and the acquisition of new skills and technical understanding by individuals.

One of the benefits of the change process has been the development of a broader cohort of leaders and the creation of digital champions within teams. Their pride for the individual role they have played, and as part of a broader network, is very evident. This was amply demonstrated by one staff-member who enthusiastically declared 'edeposit is awesome!' in a recent team exercise. She was by no means alone in her enthusiasm and passion!

Of course, print collecting remains a large and important component of the Library’s Australian collections and will do for many years to come - in the 2016/17 financial year, print accounted for about 60 percent of Australian collecting. However the new digital collection is enriching and diversifying the material available for research, enjoyment and creating connections with Australians everywhere.

Unpacking the latest delivery of print material for the legal deposit collection

Explore the Library’s digital collections through our catalogue or Trove.
See legal deposit for more information, or contact us if you have any questions.

Images from the following open-access publications were used in this post:  

**I am indebted to a number of colleagues in the preparation of this post, in particular Alison Dellit.