The National Library of Australia leads the library sector through providing national collaborative services such as Libraries Australia and Trove, and by collecting and preserving print and online legal deposit material on behalf of the nation for long-term access. In partnership with others, the Library has also digitised an unprecedented quantity of historical newspapers, transforming the way historical enquiry can be undertaken. The success of these activities and the rapidly changing nature of the economic, social and technological context in which we operate has triggered the need for the Library to re-examine its national leadership role and the unique value it can deliver, the long-term sustainability of these services for the nation, especially as new legal deposit legislation will expand legal deposit collecting to all digital and online material, and the potential for building on existing collaborative relationships within particular sectors and with the wider community.
Between November 2015 and June 2016 the National Library embarked on a project to review existing digital services and collaborations, re-examine the value propositions offered by the Library and develop new coherent business and governance models for its digital business. A web-based literature review completed in March 2016 revealed that despite some significant work overseas, there was very little evidence that similar research and business thinking has been undertaken in Australia. In April 2016, Deloitte Australia was engaged to assist with developing a framework under which to establish business and governance models that will guide the long-term development paths for the Library’s digital services. Deloitte submitted its report Digital Services Business Model and Governance Review in June 2016.
In October 2016, the National Library established a small project team to build on the recommendations of the Deloitte report. This work is well underway, with a new membership agreement, fee structure, governance framework and implementation plan expected to be in place by June 2017. The new model will strengthen the influence of contributing partners, provide a formal mechanism for member input into future development planning and better guarantee the long-term viability of our shared investment. The paper outlines the long history of library collaboration and the benefits to be gained by extending this collaborative approach to how we manage our digital collections.
With the support of National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) and other key partners, the National Library is developing new digital business models from which to nurture a new phase of close collaboration with the cultural sector. This collaboration aims at delivering value and efficiencies to all partners by sharing services and technical infrastructure. In this current era of digital publishing and technology-driven disruption, closer collaboration leveraging the capacities of all partners will ensure long-term sustainability of national services.
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