The Parliamentary Services Act 1999 establishes the office of the Parliamentary Librarian whose primary function is ‘to provide high quality information, analysis and advice to senators and members of the House of Representatives in support of their parliamentary and representational roles’.1 These services are to be delivered:
in a timely, impartial and confidential manner
maintaining the highest standards of scholarship and integrity
on the basis of equality of access for all senators, members of the House of Representatives, parliamentary committees and staff acting on behalf of senators, members or parliamentary committees, and
having regard to the independence of Parliament from the Executive Government of the Commonwealth.2
The Librarian reports to the Presiding Officers and to the Parliament in respect of her statutory functions, and also to the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library (JSCPL) which advises the Presiding Officers on matters relating to the Library.
The Library is also subject to scrutiny by the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee as part of regular Senate estimates hearings.
The Library’s primary clients are senators, members and parliamentary committees. Other client groups include parliamentarians’ staff, staff of the parliamentary departments, and the Governor-General. Service entitlements for all clients are outlined in the Parliamentary Library Statement of Client Services as approved by the JSCPL.
The Parliamentary Library is part of DPS’ Program 1. In the DPS Corporate Plan 2019–20, the Library’s services fall under the strategic theme: ‘respond to the changing needs of the Parliament’.
Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library
The JSCPL is appointed each Parliament to:
consider and report to the Presiding Officers on any matters relating to the Parliamentary Library referred to it by the President or the Speaker
provide advice to the President and the Speaker on matters relating to the Parliamentary Library
provide advice to the President and the Speaker on an annual Resource Agreement between the Parliamentary Librarian and the Secretary of DPS, and
receive advice and reports, including an annual report, directly from the Parliamentary Librarian on matters relating to the Parliamentary Library.
The Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library for the 46th Parliament was established by resolution of the House of Representatives and Senate on 4 July 2019 and 22 July 2019 respectively. The following senators and members served on the JSCPL In 2019–20:
The JSCPL met privately on 19 September 2019, 11 December 2019, 3 February 2020, and 12 June 2020, and considered, inter alia:
Parliamentary Library Resource Agreement 2019–20 and 2020–21
Library’s strategic human resource plan
client evaluation of Library services for the 46th Parliament
Library digital preservation framework, news services and analytics
Library’s collection development policy, and
the on-line Parliamentary Handbook.
The Parliamentary Library comprises the Parliamentary Librarian and the employees of DPS assisting her.3 The Library’s Executive is:
Dr Dianne Heriot, Parliamentary Librarian
Jonathan Curtis, Assistant Secretary, Research Branch and
Heather Walsh, Acting Assistant Secretary, Library Collections and Databases Branch.
The Library’s structure comprises:
the Office of the Parliamentary Librarian—which comprises the Library’s executive support officers; the Library’s Web Publishing Unit; the Director, Client Relations, who co-ordinates outreach, orientation and training services for parliamentarians, their staff and other parliamentary staff; and the Central Enquiry Point which manages the main Library reference desk and the Senators and Members Reading Room.
Research Branch—which provides information, research and analytical services including commissioned research, publications and statistical and mapping services.
Library Collections and Databases Branch—which develops and manages access to the Library’s print and electronic resources.
Figure 15: Parliamentary Library Organisation Chart (as of 30 June 2020)
Parliamentary Service Act 1999, subsection 38B(1).↩
Parliamentary Service Act 1999, subsection 38B(2).↩
Parliamentary Service Act 1999, subsection 38A(2).↩