The National Library of Australia will have to be appropriately funded, including exemption from the efficiency dividend, if the Gillard government goes ahead with worthy plans to extend its responsibilities into archiving digital records, the Australian Greens said today.
The consultation launched today into amending the Copyright Act to ensure that the National Library collects digital documents, in addition to printed works, for posterity is appropriate for the 21st century. But it comes only three weeks after the National Library told Senate Estimates hearings that it had had to make significant cuts in jobs and services in order to meet the 1.5% efficiency dividend.
"It is absolutely right that, in the 21st century, we should be adding digital publications to our records for posterity and I congratulate the government for making the first steps in that direction," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
"But I will be making the point to Minister Crean that, if the National Library is to take on this extra responsibility, it needs to be properly funded for the task.
"The National Library told me in Senate Estimates hearings last month that it has had to reduce retrospective cataloguing, increase charges for inter-library loans, reduce levels of services, reduce public events, and lose 11 positions by attrition.
"Most relevantly, the Library has already had to seek alternative funds for digitising its existing collection. If it is to get new responsibilities for digital collections, that will need to be funded.
"Australians looking to use the Library's amazing collection, either online or through inter-library loans have fewer opportunities or face greater costs thanks to the ‘efficiency dividend'.
"Australians are rightly proud of our cultural heritage. We need to treasure that heritage, but also keep it publicly accessible. That takes time and effort and needs to be properly funded."
The Extending Legal deposit consultation paper is available at: