Libraries Australia is an amazingly wide-reaching service provided by the National Library of Australia, which supports collaboration and resource sharing among Australian libraries. It’s used for a lot of different purposes, but it all centres around the Australian Bibliographic Database (ANBD), which includes records for over 25 million titles, including newspapers and journals, films, recorded and sheet music and many other media, as well as good old-fashioned books. Over 100 institutions contribute to the database, recording the rich and extremely varied content of Australia’s libraries in one place. Check out this excellent infographic for more information.
For Australian cataloguers, the ANDB is a blessing. It saves time and energy by allowing us to copy catalogue, importing existing bibliographic records into library catalogues instead of having to create each one from scratch (known as original cataloguing). In exchange, cataloguers contribute original records for titles that aren’t on the database yet. As a supplier, creating and maintaining high-quality records in Libraries Australia can be a great way to “give back” to libraries, and be a contributing part of the library community.
Libraries Australia also benefits the broader community through Trove – and if you haven’t visited Trove yet, why not? It’s a discovery service covering a huge range of databases and information resources from Australia and around the world. Most of the resources accessible through Trove are online – digitised newspapers, photographs, archived websites and so many other fascinating archival materials. But since one of the databases Trove covers is the ANBD, is also gives public access to information about physical library holdings across the country. So if, like many booklovers, you’re a member of several libraries, but can’t be bothered searching each different catalogue looking for the item you want, you can use Trove to access holdings information for lots of different library services at once. Not all libraries add their holdings to the database, but enough do that you can at least get a picture of whether the resource you want is widely available. For students, it can be a great way of finding papers and theses held by other universities, even if your own library doesn’t have them.
There are libraries in all manner of sectors and institutions, from public libraries to specialised business, health and government information services. They’re so different in their needs and demographics that they rarely cross paths – but Libraries Australia and the ANBD are a uniting factor, serving all of them and their users, giving access to obscure academic resources for public library patrons, historical material at State and National Libraries for school children, and much more. So here’s to collaboration!