4 April 2023

Trove gets back some Budget treasure with $33 million investment

| Chris Johnson
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National Library of Australia

National Library of Australia. Photo: James Coleman.

The Federal Government has rescued one of the nation’s most significant historical and cultural resources, with a $33 million injection for the Trove digital archive repository.

The National Library of Australia will receive the funds over four years to secure the future of the much-loved and highly used system.

It is one good news Budget initiative the government is happy to officially ‘leak’, as funding for Trove was due to end this financial year following a decision made by the previous government.

Trove is the single point of entry to the collections of hundreds of Australian libraries, universities, museums, galleries and archives.

It hosts some of Australia’s most important cultural collections, including AustLang – the vocabulary of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages maintained by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Arts Minister Tony Burke said Trove makes the nation’s history accessible to all Australians wherever they live, and has more than 14 billion digitised artefacts and stories from Australia’s cultural, community and research institutions,

“Trove is, in many ways, Australia’s digital memory,” Mr Burke said.

“It records and retains some of our most important stories, moments, challenges, controversies and successes in one accessible location.

“Whether you’re using it to look up a bit of family history, or for academic research, Trove is an incredibly important part of our national cultural institutions.”

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Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said the funding certainty will help Trove and the National Library to keep doing what they do best – collecting and preserving today’s stories for future generations.

“Without this funding, Trove would simply cease to exist in a few short months,” Senator Gallagher said.

“And with that, free, digital access to much of Australia’s history would be denied to millions of Australians.”

Trove’s collection of 26 million newspaper pages is indispensable to academics, researchers and historical societies, as well as to ordinary Australians keen to understand the history of their families or their communities.

It contains digital copies of Banjo Paterson’s original manuscript of Waltzing Matilda, an architect’s model of the Sydney Opera House, the voice of former world boxing champion (and singing pop star) Lionel Rose and radio stories from the ABC chronicling the first mentions of a new invention called ‘wi-fi’.

Trove also cleverly enables users to correct scans of old text to sharpen blurred words to the point of being legible.

Beyond the next four years, the government is also committing to providing $9.2 million in indexed ongoing annual financial support for the archive, in an effort to “end the funding uncertainty once and for all” and secure Trove for future generations.

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A petition raised more than 64,000 signatures since the Coalition decided to end Trove’s funding, demanding that the decision be reversed.

Senator Gallagher said that since Labor came to office, she has been flooded with pleas to reinstate ongoing funds for the system.

“I’ve had a lot of correspondence on this, probably the most correspondence I’ve had on everything…” she said.

“I think it would have been an absolute tragedy and negligent decision if we just allowed this to happen on the 30th of June.”

In January this year, the Australian Cyber Security Centre advised the National Library that a small number of National Library and Trove login credentials were involved in a data breach, where data including usernames and passwords was collected from individuals.

The library found that more than 300 active users across many of its systems and accounts were affected. As a pre-emptive measure, the library deactivated the affected library cards and reset the account passwords for all affected Trove accounts.

Active National Library and Trove users affected by this incident were contacted directly with further information.

For more information on Trove visit www.trove.nla.gov.au

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HiddenDragon8:02 pm 05 Apr 23

The term “investment” is heavily over-used in describing government spending, and not just when it’s spending which is wasteful and short-sighted, but in this case (and the other funding announced today for the national cultural institutions), it is a very worthy use of that word.

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