26 March 2020

National Library may be shut but its digital services are built for these times

| Dominic Giannini
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The National Library of Australia

National Library of Australia digital services are still available. Photo: Jack Mohr.

The National Library of Australia (NLA) has officially closed its doors because of the coronavirus crisis, but that does not mean that bookworms, bibliophiles and epistemologists will be left high and dry.

The Library is working around the clock to ensure that its online and digital services are able to meet the demands of curious Canberrans and students, Director-General of the National Library of Australia Dr Marie-Louise Ayres said.

“Libraries are places of knowledge, scholarship and learning, but also evoke a sense of warmth and security,” she said.

“Our doors may be closed, but we are ready to continue connecting and sharing information with our community via our digital platforms.”

The treasure that is Trove lets you navigate a plethora of pictures, journals, reports, books, music, videos and maps from Australian libraries, museums, achieves and other research organisations.

It is a one-stop, isolation shop for everything from the first Australian Women’s Weekly in 1933 to archived Australian websites from 1996.

John Howard's website 1998

Prime Minister John Howard’s website as archived on 3 August 1998 (complete with wood panelling). Image: National Library.

Students are still able to access the Library’s online digital classroom as schools move to pupil-free days until the Easter Holidays and confusion presides over this year’s HSC.

The online resources are aligned to the Australian curriculum and allow students to easily digest historical information with videos, audio resources and e-learning materials.

Webinars, podcasts and blogs are also available for those who want to continue their learning digitally or find a way to pass the time while bunkered down at home.

Those who are used to more one-on-one contact can still speak to a librarian virtually through the NLA’s Ask a Librarian program, allowing people to get in touch over the phone or through social media if they need help locating a resource or insightful research tips.

The Library’s online bookshop will also remain open for bibliophiles to browse.

“As the nation continues to grapple with the challenges that 2020 has presented, the Library is focusing on supporting the community with new ideas to explore Australian culture and history,” the NLA said in a statement.

“[We] invite the public to join the digital conversation and share ideas and contributions.

“Over 30 million people across Australia accessed the National Library’s digital services last year, and it is expected this number will grow in the coming months.”

The Library will remain closed indefinitely.

For more information about the NLA and its resources, visit www.nla.gov.au.

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