This report offers a review of recent significant acquisitions by the National Library. It does not describe the large volume of acquisitions of both Australian and overseas materials that are routinely acquired through deposit, purchase or donation.


  • The Library acquired a series of twenty-nine photographs by Joyce Evans of contemporary Indigenous artists from Ernabella, Papunya Tula, Kinotre and Yuendumu from 1987 to 2012. Other photographs documenting aspects of Indigenous life include: the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the ensuing fracas at the Lobby restaurant in Canberra, by Jodie Harris; a carte de visite, Australian Aborigines in RA Cunningham’s touring company, showing surviving members when the company visited Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1885; a beautiful panorama of a Yolngu family at Maningrida (2010), by Dave Tacon; and a selection from Sarah Rhodes’ series Home/On Country (2011), featuring Indigenous Elders photographed in possum skin cloaks on their traditional land and, in contrast, in their urban homes.
  • Notes to Basquiat: Untitled (1999), a painting by Indigenous artist Gordon Bennet, comments on the Australian government’s resistance in the late 1990s to making an apology to the Stolen Generations.
  • William Yang supplied ten photographs of Patrick White and his circle, including portraits of Brett Whiteley, Luciana Arrighi and Kate Fitzpatrick, at social events in the house White shared with his partner, Manoly Lascaris. The photographs reveal aspects of White’s domestic life and relationships, and complement the Library’s holdings of White’s papers.
  • Portraits of thirty-five eminent Australians in the fields of business, politics and the arts were purchased from photographer, Lorrie Graham.
  • Staff photographers photographed the 2011 Australian Open tennis tournament, an Australian A-League soccer match between the Socceroos and Malaysia in Canberra, and the 14th straight win of the racehorse Black Caviar.


  • The papers of Philip Doyne Vigors, an Irish military man who travelled in the Pacific and Australia from 1849 to 1858, were purchased at auction in London. An enthusiastic diarist, Vigors recorded his observations of military and social life and of the people and places he encountered in richly illustrated journals, notebooks, sketches and letters.
  • There was a significant addition to the papers of former Governor General and constitutional lawyer, the late Sir Zelman Cowen, including a complete set of his speeches, correspondence, engagement files and photographs; personal papers from Oxford; and research papers for his autobiography.
  • The Library acquired the papers of Wilfred Burchett, one of Australia’s most significant and controversial journalists and war correspondents. The papers especially document the Vietnam war and contain correspondence with many leading figures of the international left, including Gough Whitlam, Arthur Calwell, Jane Fonda, Peter Ustinov, Graham Greene, Arthur Miller, Noam Chomsky and Vanessa Redgrave.
  • The papers of Tex Morton, a pioneer of Australian country music, describe his life and international career. Additions to performing arts collections included further papers of pianist Geoffrey Parsons, artistic-director Robyn Archer and composers Roger Smalley and Dr Andrew Ford.
  • Eileen Moir’s papers relating to her campaign to bring Vietnamese orphans to Australia in the 1970s, prior to the fall of Saigon in 1975, include documents relating to the plight of the orphans and photographs of their lives in Vietnam and Australia.
  • An uncashed cheque signed by Charles Dickens to his two sons in Melbourne for the amount of 100 pounds and dated October 1869. At least one of Dickens’ sons left England for Australia to seek his fortune. In addition to Dickens’ autograph and a significant association, the item represents an unusual piece of attractive 19th century banking ephemera.


  • The Library purchased a collection of 1850s to1890s east coast property mapping, including several large plans showing boundaries and land holdings for municipal boroughs in Sydney. The acquisition strengthens the collection in the areas of early property and infrastructure mapping.
  • Among European colonial works, maps from Dix's juvenile atlas (published in London, 1810) are now virtually unobtainable. The Library acquired both the Map of New Holland (including New Zealand, New Hebrides and New Caledonia) and a map showing Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands, with latitude and longitude and distances to Port Jackson.
  • As a result of the closure of the map library in the Defence Information and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO) the Library acquired strategic and operational mapping relating to Australian peace-keeping and other United Nations activity. This transfer also included maps of operations in the World War II Pacific campaigns, United States Air Force navigation charts for jets operating during the Cold War across southeast Asia, Japanese mapping showing the Dutch East Indies and South Seas region prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor and United States Defense Agency maps used by Australian personnel during the United Nations Operation in Somalia from 1992 to 1996.
  • DIGO also deposited the most recent Australian government mapping and aerial photography of Torres Strait islands (2009) comprising a series of 40 topographic maps at 1:50 000 scale.
  • The Library acquired two important series for the Solomon Islands, produced prior to self-government in 1976 and unavailable in any other Australian or Pacific library. These provide excellent contemporary details of infrastructure and topography including villages, tracks, boundaries, administrative headquarters, reefs, forests, plantation, medical and educational services, and watercourses.
  • A small series of charts produced by the French Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine (1798) provide detailed early cartography for coastal Vietnam, from the region now known as Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang.
  • A key work of Dutch origin that reflects on the early European discovery story of Australia, Orbis terrarum nova et accuratissima tabula, by Nicolas Visscher, 1658, is a highly decorative twin hemispherical world map and one of the earliest to show Tasman’s 1642-43 and 1644 discoveries in Australia and New Zealand.

Oral history and folklore

  • Australian Generations is a large scale Australian Research Council funded project in collaboration with La Trobe and Monash Universities and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The project aims to conduct 300 interviews which record how distinctive generational experience shaped the lives of Australians. The interviews demonstrate innovation in Oral History methodology by combining life history with more qualitative data.  The project has also enabled the development of techniques to efficiently bring batches of  externally described, summarised and recorded interviews directly into the Library’s digital collection management systems.
  • The focus on the arts continued with interviews with film producer Margaret Fink, who also reflects on the Sydney ‘Push’; set designer Allan Lees; former Australian Ballet dancer and current Director of the Royal Ballet School, Gailene Stock; musician Dennis Olsen; and arts journalist, Helen Musa.
  • Other interviews with eminent Australians included archaeologist Dr Mike Smith, Director of Research and Development at the National Museum of Australia; Dr Barrie Pittock, a climate change scientist and advocate for Indigenous rights; John Ulm, former Qantas employee and the son of pioneer aviator, Charles Ulm; diplomat Richard Woolcott; and politicians Gareth Evans, Alexander Downer and Bob Hawke.
  • Netherlands oral historian Edith Van Loo interviewed a group of Dutch veterans in Australia who served with the Royal Netherlands Army in the Netherlands East-Indies during and after World War II. These interviews are important to Australia and its relations with Europe and Indonesia, but also to the Dutch who are re-evaluating a neglected part of their history.
  • The Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants oral history project grew by over fifty-five interviews. The project highlights the variety of the experience of care, and the diversity of life consequences that stem from it. A related project, Children and the State, includes interviews with fourteen individuals who were instrumental in the legal changes to the management of children in care in Australia.

Music and dance

  • The Library acquired fifty-five dance images by Jim McFarlane of the Australian Ballet’s seasons celebrating the Ballets Russes in Australia and the Diaghilev Ballets Russes Centenary.
  • Seventy images of dance productions from Melbourne’s three leading contemporary choreographers and their companies, Lucy Guerin Inc, Phillip Adams for BalletLab and Gideon Obarzanek for Chunky Move, were acquired.
  • Cheryl Stone, Michael Leslie, Monica Stevens, Gina Rings and Stephen Page were interviewed for the project on contemporary Indigenous dance.
  • Donald Hollier, an eminent Australian composer and director, donated his extensive collection of original musical manuscripts of opera, works for chorus and orchestra, stage works, chamber music, and solo pieces for piano, harpsichord and organ.

Australian Publications

  • We continued in our efforts to fill 20th and 21st century gaps in the collection and interesting acquisitions in the last six months include:
    • Government and other reports on water issues from the personal collection of the late climate scientist, Professor Peter Wray Cullen AO, of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.
    • Australian postal and history books from the Australia Post library which closed in May, including titles not otherwise held.
    • Foreign language editions (mostly fiction) of Australian authors including Patrick White, J.M. Walsh, Guy Boothby, G.M. Glaskin, Arthur J. Rees, Jack Lindsay, Ralph de Boissiere and Christopher Koch in Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German Hebrew, Polish, Slovenian, Swedish and Romanian translation.
    • A rare satirical book of cartoons commenting on World War 1 interment at an Australian German Concentration Camp (possibly Holdsworthy, NSW), in German with illustrations by C. Friedrich.
    • Printed ephemera ranging from an invitation to (and instructions for) the reception held for London-based Australian expatriates at Buckingham Palace by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in advance of the Royal Visit to the Commonwealth of Australia (13 October 2011), the order of service for the 13 December state funeral of Sir Zelman Cowen; assorted items relating to the 2012 Australian Open Tennis competition; items from Australian commemorations for the 70th anniversary of the Malay Campaign and Battle for Singapore 1941-1942; a souvenir brochure and photograph of Elvis Presley’s “Gold” Limousine from the 1968 Australian tour published by the Benevolent Society of New South Wales; and an intricate pop-up paper model of the National Library building created by paper engineer Janine Jeffreys for the animated instructional videos developed by the Library with EoR Media.
  • The Library continues to build its collection of Australian serial titles by donation and retrospective purchasing of issues to fill gaps in existing holdings and also by identifying and acquiring titles not previously held. The Monaro Folk Society made a significant donation of serials published by a variety of Australian folk music clubs and organisations over the past 30-50 years. These filled many gaps in the Library’s holdings, and enhanced the Library’s ability to support research into Australian folk music.
  • The Library is also devoting considerable effort to improving holdings of serials from other less mainstream music genres such as punk and heavy metal. These materials are often produced in very small print runs for distribution among devoted fans and are not commercially available. Some examples of titles recently acquired by the Library include Outsider (a heavy metal/gothic music magazine), Trousers in action (produced in Sydney in the mid-1980s); Backlash (one issue of a Canberra fanzine from 1985); and Never again.
  • Artists books secured for the collection include: hand-made limited editions Panoramas ‑ a “visual diary of the world spanning six years from 1999 to 2005 as I saw it, touched it, smelt it and lived it” ‑ and Tsunami: aftermath, Banda Aceh Indonesia, January 2-9 2005 by photojournalist Stephen Dupont; David Frazer’s The Ballad of Count Von Jack ‑ a wry reflection on the lot of an aspiring artist; Koolunga Bunyip / Victoria Cooper ‑ a photographer’s“response to the violent attack on a bunyip committed in the late 19th century by the local community of Koolunga, SA”; Emma Hack’s Wallpaper collections 2005-2010, featuring photographic works inspired by Florence Broadhurst wallpapers and camouflaged models; and Liz Jeneid’s Lake Mungo spinifex book and Antarctic Series (2005/6) – journey to the Ross Sea, including ‘The Shape of Icebergs’.
  • Collecting Australian performing arts ephemera from overseas has slowed, however interesting additions this year include material from Dame Edna’s 2012 international farewell tour “Eat, Pray, Laugh!” and a recent London production of Australian playwright, Ron Elisha's Man in the Middle – a “wikiplay” about Julian Assange; a leaflet issued for the 1911 ‘Wild Australia’ exhibition at the Festival of Empire, Crystal Palace – with “Stirring Scenes from the Australian Bush” which complements related poster holdings.
  • ABC Triple J has supplied copies of posters and other marketing materials from campaigns to promote live Australian music. Other poster highlights in the period included Slim Dusty’s Western Parade (c1963); Aboriginal Lands Council material relating to the 40th anniversary (1972-2012) celebrations of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy at Old Parliament House, Canberra; and Australian aviation tourism.

Online Publications

  • To provide on-going access to Australian documentary material in digital form the Library collects significant Australian websites and other online documents and makes them available for use through the PANDORA archive.
    • Two collaborative web archiving collections were established in the first half of 2012. These projects are led by the National Library and enlist curatorial contribution from PANDORA partner agencies.

      “Australia’s early 21st century resources boom” collection reflects the impact of the resources boom on Australia’s political and business life, changing employment and economic conditions, and social, environmental and cultural aspects including protest and indigenous websites. Material will be collected from a broad range of publishers both governmental, organizational and community/private individuals. So far 45 titles have been archived for this collection.

      “Murray-Darling River and its Basin” collection reflects the management of the river and water resources of the Murray-Darling and its basin and records the changing way of life and pattern of use that have been occurring in the basin, and the government and community responses. To date 66 titles have been archived for this collection.

    • An important addition to the PANDORA Archive is the new long-form investigative journalism web-only publication The Global Mail.
    • The second Commonwealth government web harvest was completed in March 2012. This harvest is supported by the whole-of-government arrangement that enables the Library to collect, preserve and make accessible the web content published by government agencies under the Financial Management and Accountability (FMA) Act. This collection includes 13.6 million files with a data size of 922 gigabytes.
    • The seventh large scale annual harvest of the Australia web domain was completed in April and May 2012. Around one billion files from the .au domain were collected amounting to 41 terabytes of data. The harvesting and indexing was undertaken by the Internet Archive on behalf of the Library and the collection was delivered at the beginning of June 2012.
  • In addition to collecting Australian websites the Library purchases access to a range of high quality, historically significant online resources and continued to expand this with subscriptions to the following collections: 
    • The Source database is a subject guide to children's literature: books, short stories, traditional literature and poetry from around the world with an emphasis on Australian and New Zealand literature.
    • The Sunday Times Digital Archive 1822-2006.
    • Ambassador Graham Martin and the Saigon Embassy's Back Channel Communication Files, 1963-1975 consists of State Department telegrams and White House backchannel messages between United States ambassadors in Saigon and White House national security advisers, talking points for meetings with South Vietnamese officials, intelligence reports, drafts of peace agreements, and military status reports. Subjects include the Diem coup, the Paris peace negotiations, the fall of South Vietnam, and other U.S./South Vietnam relations topics, 1963 to 1975.
    • PressDisplay provides access to over 1000 newspapers in 40 languages from more than 80 countries, displaying them in their original format, layout and language on the date of publication. 
    • British newspaper archive is a partnership between the British Library and brightsolid online publishing to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library's collection over the next 10 years. The first stage of this project focuses on runs published before 1900. Remote access is not permitted for this database. 
    • Australian book review – the online edition of Australia's oldest and premier literary review journal.

Asian collections

  • During the period several interesting new Asian acquisitions demonstrated the variety and richness of the collections.
  • Japan: social movements after the Fukushima nuclear power plants crisis, 11 March 2011 [Website archive]. This collection of archived websites documents the growth of new social movements in Japan following the Fukushima nuclear power plants explosion. There has been very little mainstream media coverage of social protest about government’s handling of the crisis and these websites record the depth and variety of concern amongst ordinary citizens, from food contamination to the future of nuclear energy in Japan.
  • Prachum kotmāi pračham sok, 1782-1936 [Compilation of Thai laws]. This microfilm acquisition adds to existing holdings of the laws of Thailand, an essential source for scholars. Microfilm still has a place in library collections when it is the only format available. The Library now holds a complete set of the laws of Thailand from the beginning to the current day.
  • Publications from East Timor. Staff member Anya Dettman undertook an acquisitions trip in Timor-Leste in June 2012. She acquired over 160 new titles on the trip as well as back runs of several new newspapers and journals. Amongst the more interesting titles acquired on the trip was Dignidade, a biography in the Tetun language of Konis Santana, a guerrilla fighter and resistance leader. The book was launched by his successor in the resistance, Xanana Gusmao. Acquisitions visits are the only way to acquire new publishing from Timor Leste and the Library now has an unrivalled collection.

Other Overseas Publications

  • A review of the Library’s overseas collecting was undertaken in 2011, which resulted in a number of recommendations to improve the efficiency of the Library’s collecting of overseas publications, reduce more marginal collecting and begin the shift from print collecting to digital. During the last six months, the Library has begun work on implementing these recommendations. As a consequence, there has been a reduction in the scale of overseas acquisitions over this period.
  • The Pacific, however, remains a focus of overseas collection development activities and recent acquisitions include: two books of folk tales from the island of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands; a rare work published in 1944 on the Leuangiua language which is spoken in the northeast of the Solomon Islands; a recent publication about the Gende people of Papua New Guinea, which documents their history and challenges they face from mining development in their region; and Tales, poems and songs from the underwater world, a bilingual collection of English and Fijian writing and performance from the last decade. Another notable acquisition is Kekero and Kwadu, a delightful children’s book, created by an Australian teacher, Alessandra Perna, who went to Honiara to work as a volunteer with the YWCA Kindergarten. Discovering that there was a lack of appropriate books at the kindergarten, she was inspired to create age appropriate books for children. A local artist, Selwyn Palmer, illustrated the book.
  •  The Library has also continued to selectively acquire significant rare items and microfilm research material for the collection, both through purchase and donation. Titles acquired in this period include: 
    • Temple of flora : or garden of the botanist, poet, painter, and philosopher, being picturesque botanical plates of the choicest flowers of Europe Asia, Africa and America / by Robert John Thornton. [London : Folio Society, 2008?]. This work is the first ever full-size facsimile of the greatest English florilegium created by Robert Thornton, which was first published between 1798 and 1807. Despite being neither an artist nor a professional botanist, Thornton was fascinated by the rapid development in botanical knowledge in the late 18th century and was inspired to create a botanical book which would be a National Honour, ‘which in Point of Magnificence is intended to exceed all other Works of a similar Nature on the Continent’. This Folio Society edition was named the Best British Book in the British Book Design and Production Awards 2008. 
    • Chopin / [text concept & selection of images] Mieczysław Tomaszewski ; [translation: Lindsay Davidson]; [editors: Danuta Borzecka, Joanna Kulakowska]. Olszanica, Poland : Bosz, c2010. A luxury limited edition of a large bound and boxed publication, to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Polish composer, Fryderyk Chopin was presented to the Library by the Polish Ambassador. 
    • Church Missionary Society archive [microform]. Section I, East Asia Missions. The Library already held parts 1-21 of this microfilm series, which contains an archival record of the activities of the Church Missionary Society mainly in China and Japan. Part 22 of this series contains CMS correspondence, papers and reports from missions in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaya and India in the 1950s.