The National Library of Australia (NLA) is the largest reference library in 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 2012–13, the National Library collection comprised 6,496,772 items, and an additional 15,506 metres (50,873 ft) of manuscript material. It is located in Parkes, Canberra, ACT.
The National Library of Australia, while formally established by the passage of the National Library Act 1960 (Cth), had been functioning as a national library rather than strictly a Parliamentary Library, almost since its inception.
The present library building was opened on 15 August 1968 by Prime Minister John Gorton. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Bunning and Madden in the Late Twentieth Century Stripped Classical style. The foyer is decorated in marble, with stained-glass windows by Leonard French and three tapestries by Mathieu Mategot. The building was listed on the Australian Commonwealth Heritage List on 22 June 2004.
In 2012–13 the Library collection comprised 6,496,772 items, with an estimated additional 2,325,900 items held in the manuscripts collection. The Library's collections of Australiana have developed into the nation's single most important resource of materials recording the Australian cultural heritage. Australian writers, editors and illustrators are actively sought and well represented—whether published in Australia or overseas.
The Library's collection includes all formats of material, from books, journals, websites and manuscripts to pictures, photographs, maps, music, oral history recordings, manuscript papers and ephemera.
Approximately 92.1% of the Library's collection has been catalogued and is discoverable through the online catalogue.
The Library has digitized over 174,000 items from its collection (the 100,000th being "Feeding cotton seed to sheep, Bourke, New South Wales") and, where possible, delivers these directly across the Internet. The Library is a world leader in digital preservation techniques, and maintains an Internet-accessible archive of selected Australian websites called the Pandora Archive.
The Library collects material produced by Australians, for Australians or about the Australian experience in all formats-not just printed works-books, serials, newspapers, maps, posters, music and printed ephemera-but also online publications and unpublished material such as manuscripts, pictures and oral histories. A core Australiana collection is that of John A. Ferguson. The Library has particular collection strengths in the performing arts, including dance.
The Library's considerable collections of general overseas and rare book materials, as well as world-class Asian and Pacific collections which augment the Australiana collections. The print collections are further supported by extensive microform holdings.
The Library also maintains the National Reserve Braille Collection.
The Library has also acquired the records of many national non-governmental organisations. They include the records of the Federal Secretariats of the Liberal party, the A.L.P, the Democrats, the R.S.L., the Australian Inland Mission, the Australian Union of Students, The Australian Ballet, the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, the Australian Institute of Urban Studies, Australian Industries Protection League, the Australian Conservation Foundation, and the Australian Council of National Trusts. Finally, the Library holds about 37,000 reels of microfilm of manuscripts and archival records, mostly acquired overseas and predominantly of Australian and Pacific interest.