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2.6 Capability

Our capability is what enables us to deliver on our mission to collect, connect
and collaborate. The Library builds its capability to maximise return on
the nation’s investment and drive significant benefits for the Australian
people. Within the Australian Government accountability framework, we
manage strategic and operational risks to sustain our public value. In an
era of declining trust in public institutions, the Library is maintaining, and
strengthening, its role as a trusted knowledge institution.



In May 2019, the Library announced the commencement of an internal
organisational redesign, the first in over 20 years. The Blueprint redesign
will position the Library as a modern and sustainable organisation and give
it the capability to respond flexibly to opportunities and challenges. The
redesign was informed by developments in international collection and library
management, capital management, user information needs and the need to
embrace digital solutions to attain efficiencies.

Experienced organisational redesign consultants were engaged to work with
the Library to map a five-stage consultative process, aimed at implementation
by 1 July 2020. Staff were highly engaged throughout the process. Regular
briefings were given on progress and staff had opportunities to contribute
ideas and expertise via workshops, surveys and other means. In line with
Enterprise Agreement requirements, the Library consulted regularly with its
internal Consultative Committee and the Community and Public Sector Union.

During the initial stage, the Library transitioned from six divisions to five
branches: Collection, Collaboration, Engagement, Corporate and Digital. Key
plans and policies were reviewed to support the implementation of the new
operating model and to ensure the Library can focus on its highest priorities.

The proposed final structure was presented to staff in February 2020.
Following a two-week consultation period and review, the final structure was
confirmed and recruitment for the new structure commenced. The COVID-19
pandemic caused some implementation delays—full implementation is now
expected at the end of 2020.


The Library’s 2018–2022 Workplace and Workforce Strategic Plan outlines a
program of workforce initiatives aimed at ensuring the Library:

  • has an appropriately skilled workforce that reflects the Library’s needs now and in the future
  • has a productive and safe working environment, optimising diversity and inclusion in our workforce
  • builds and strengthens organisational capability and capacity over time.

In 2019, the Library established a key initiative from the plan, known as Feedback in Action (FIA). FIA enables us to analyse and respond to significant trends that were identified in the Library’s APS Employee Census results.T he census results showed that performance management was a key area for improvement, noting access and quality of performance feedback is key to
employee engagement and wellbeing, agency productivity and development
of organisational capability and capacity over time. The first FIA project
included a refresh of the Library’s Performance Management Framework.
A contemporary approach to performance management has been introduced,
with a simpler, conversation-based framework sharing responsibility between
managers and staff. The revised framework is consistent with the updated
Australian Public Service Commissioner’s Directions. It was launched in
November 2019.

Every two years, the Library hosts a cross-institutional Reflective Senior
Leadership Program that develops collaborative leadership skills and networks
using action learning. Action learning is an approach to problem-solving in
which participants learn by doing and then reflect on their results. In 2019,
staff from six agencies (National Archives of Australia, National Film and
Sound Archive, National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia,
National Portrait Gallery and National Library of Australia) participated in two
action learning sets, each of which focused on resolving a group problem
without the need for a designated leader. Relationship-based action learning
has a strong focus on developing influencing and collaboration skills and
encourages participants to think about their own experience as they share
expertise and knowledge with others. Participants worked together from July
to October, when they presented their solutions to senior executives across the
cultural institutions.


In January 2020, buildings and homes across Canberra were badly damaged
by a severe hailstorm that swept across a limited section of the Australian
Capital Territory. The Library sustained significant damage to its heritage
copper roof, and an independent assessment of the damage confirmed
the entire roof requires replacement. The Library’s insurer has established
a reserve to fund the roof replacement works and associated asbestos
remediation works in the ceiling space. The Library will go out to tender for the
project, with the roof replacement work scheduled to commence in 2020–21.

As the Library carefully designs the replacement roof, a protective weather
cover was installed over the damaged copper roof. This temporary protective
coating, known as Stormseal, will be progressively removed as the roof
replacement works are completed. Maintaining the heritage-protected
features of the building and complying with planning requirements of the
Parliamentary Zone are of key importance as the Library works with heritage
and planning bodies on the copper roof replacement.

In 2018–19, the Library identified an increased risk of exposure from remnant
asbestos in its plant rooms and ceiling space. Following extensive testing and
assessment, the Library commenced an asbestos removal and remediation
program. This staged project continued in 2019–20, with the federal Budget
allocating $1 million to the Library to continue the remediation. Following
the hail damage to the heritage roof in January, the Library will incorporate
the remaining asbestos remediation works into the roof replacement project
during 2020–21.

The Library’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is an
integral component of our operations, ensuring appropriate conditions for the
preservation of the Library’s collections. The HVAC system also provides a
suitable environment for the staff and public occupants of the building—up to
1,000 people every day.

With an ageing HVAC system, the Library has undertaken a major redesign
of the HVAC system in recent years. In August 2019, the Library's Council
approved an approach to the market for a construction contractor to
commence a major upgrade of the Library’s HVAC systems. Following an
open market tender process, ministerial approval was obtained in May 2020.
This significant project will commence in early 2020–21.

The design of the new HVAC system has the in-built flexibility to
accommodate future plans arising from the new building master-planning
exercise to be conducted in 2020–21.


The Library’s IT Strategic Plan and Technology Roadmap are the primary
documents guiding the Library’s vision, innovation and progress in the
digital space.

This year, the Library completed an Australian Public Service Modernisation
Fund project that aligned the Library’s operations with Australian Cyber
Security Centre baseline guidelines, implemented an information security
management system and enhanced its analysis and reporting capability.

Progress on the technology roadmap included an upgrade to the user
management system underpinning internal and public-facing Library systems
and upgrade of Google Analytics to a whole-of-government managed account,
providing enhanced reporting and detail. The Library made efficiencies to its
application profile, resulting in a streamlined approach and decommissioning
of legacy applications.

Innovation projects this year have focused on discoverability and the
investigation of crowd-sourced geolocation of historic maps and automated
labelling and description of historic images. To demonstrate the effectiveness
of crowd-sourced geolocated maps, the Library developed and trialled a
prototype service. Following positive user feedback and further review, the
service will move to production in the 2020–21 financial year.


As a leader in its field, the Library collaborates with and provides advice to
libraries and cultural institutions across the country to preserve national
collections and progress digital access. NSLA is the peak body for Australia’s
national, state and territory libraries. As Chair of NSLA, the Library’s Director-
General Dr Marie-Louise Ayres is instrumental in strategic planning and
national collaboration to preserve the nation’s heritage and culture and deliver
services to the Australian people.

Trove is an exemplar of the Library’s ability to harness collective effort and
produce results. From the outset, Trove has been a national collaboration,
initiated and led by the Library. Over decades, the Library has built the
infrastructure and policy framework that has enabled Australian libraries and
collecting institutions to promote collections and digital content through Trove.

In 2019, the Library established the Trove Collaborative Services (TCS)
membership model—a governance and pricing framework for the nearly 1,000
organisations that contribute content to Trove. The new model has supported
Partner engagement in strategic decision-making. For more information on
the TCS model, see pages 34 and 44.

Digital preservation and management is critical to the Library’s immediate
and long-term planning. As part of the Library’s award-winning Digital Library
Infrastructure Replacement program, the Library became the first national
library to adopt the Preservica software suite to manage and maintain ongoing
access to digital collections as technologies evolve and change. This digital
preservation infrastructure facilitates management of born-digital published
and unpublished collections, with scope to extend to other digital collections,
including web archives, oral histories and newspapers.

Drawing on its reputation and experience in digital preservation and as an
early adopter of Preservica, the Library has shared experiences and provided
extensive training and advice to other institutions transitioning to the
infrastructure. Advice has been provided nationally and internationally and
extends to active participation in the broader Preservica online community.


In December 2019, Library staff were informed that, under Section 24(1) of
the Public Service Act 1999, a determination was being considered as an
alternative to bargaining for a renewed enterprise agreement (EA), with the
Library’s EA nominally due to expire in March 2020.

Following the APS Commissioner’s approval of proposed productivity
initiatives, over three-quarters of eligible employees participated in a sentiment
survey. An overwhelming majority (96.7 per cent) supported a determination
that provides three annual two per cent pay increases and a one-off
four per cent increase on first-aid, health and safety and restriction allowances.

On 9 April 2020, under COVID-19 economic measures, the government placed
a six-month pause on wage increases for non-SES Commonwealth public
sector employees, effective from 14 April 2020. The two per cent pay increase
due to Library staff on 24 March 2021 will now be deferred by six months and
due on 24 September 2021.


The Library receives funding from a variety of sources. The Australian
Government provides funding for Library operating activities and equity
funding for collection acquisitions. In more recent years it has also provided
tied funding injections for specific projects. While these funds have led to
significant improvements to the Library’s world-leading digital infrastructure –
and therefore citizen access to Australian cultural heritage – the short-term
nature of the funds also poses challenges. Uncertain future resourcing
affects longer term planning and can impede timely upgrade of core services.
In addition, tied funding for infrastructure projects can result in increased
depreciation costs (arising from purchase and development of hardware and
software assets), placing pressure on the Library’s available resourcing.

The Library also generates own-source revenue and seeks philanthropy
to support access projects, which provide value to Australian readers and

The Trove Collaborative Services (TCS) funding model provides own-source
revenue, and the Library aims to transition to a full cost-recovery program over
time. Partner membership fees cover ingest, interface and data management
systems, as well as workflow systems for libraries. Revenue streams
generated through the transition to the TCS model have met expectations
to date. However, the Library acknowledges that the economic impact of
COVID-19 may have longer term fiscal implications for ongoing provision of
Trove services.

The Library continues to advocate strongly for investment to underpin its
ongoing viability. The Library’s key priorities for additional funding are to
meet upcoming offsite physical storage needs and obtain the long-term
funding needed to underpin a national digital research infrastructure platform.
Both are critical to protecting the national collection and Commonwealth
heritage assets.

In 2018, the Library's Council approved a new ten-year philanthropy strategy
that aims to raise $30 million in philanthropic support for the Library. In
2019–20 the Library invested in a new philanthropy team within the Office of
the Director-General. In the first three-year phase of this strategy, the Library
aims to raise $2 million in gifts and pledges annually—an increase on previous
annual revenue of around $1 million. This target was exceeded in 2019–20,
but the Library acknowledges that the philanthropic community have many
calls on their resources as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019–20, the Library conducted a full revaluation of the national collection
in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards, the Library’s internal
policies and financial statement audit requirements. Jones Lang LaSalle
Public Sector Valuations Pty Ltd was engaged to conduct the valuation. Due
to COVID-19 travel and social-distancing restrictions, the valuation was
conducted virtually.


As part of the 2016 Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Library was
provided $16.4 million in funding over four years from the Public Service
Modernisation Fund to support innovation, productivity improvements and

More than three-quarters of the funding was used to deliver: a significantly
refreshed Trove website and branding; underlying digital infrastructure,
including upgrades to the Library’s cybersecurity capability; a new user
management system; and a massive increase in available digital content.

As a result of the digital content expansion, 11.6 million pages of content
are now available via Trove. This includes the iconic Bulletin; Parliamentary
Papers (in partnership with the Parliamentary Library); Indigenous language
publications; and the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), previously only
available in 10,000 reels of microfilm. The AJCP was a long-term project that
identified and filmed Australian content held in archives in the United Kingdom.
Many years after its completion, this content is now available to all.

The Library also commissioned expert significance assessments of three
of its most important collections of early Australiana: the Rex Nan Kivell
Collection, the John Ferguson Collection and the Gregory Mathews Collection.
Preservation assessments were also completed to scope and prepare for
future digitisation. This project has provided strong guidelines about great
Australiana strengths, which the Library will use to attract digitisation funding.
As one reviewer commented: ‘[the] Ferguson collection includes language
studies of stunning rarity … that cannot be digitised fast enough in support of
the efforts being made to save and rekindle languages’.

Modernisation funding also allowed the Library to complete a critical and
long-overdue upgrade to financial software, delivering new forecasting,
budgeting and reporting capability. Significant progress was also made in a
longer-term project to consider options for replacing the Library’s integrated
library management system, which is nearing the end of its life. The Library is
working with an international network to share mutually beneficial business
and systems intelligence, with a view to participating more fully in a viable
open-source platform.

The Library completed its major Modernisation Fund program on time and
within budget.


In 2019–20, the Library’s Audit and Enterprise Risk Committee (AERC)
and NLA Executive considered a range of matters and provided advice to
the Library's Council to support the Library’s engagement with risk. Key
achievements included the revision of the Library’s risk management
framework and a refresh of related policy documentation and templates.

Matters that the AERC and the NLA Executive considered during the financial
year included key emerging risks, such as Australia’s unprecedented bushfire
season, which had the potential to threaten one of the Library’s key storage
facilities, and a major hailstorm in January 2020, which caused significant
damage to the Library's heritage building in Parkes. The bushfires prompted
the Library to reflect on future bushfire risk to its Hume Repository, given the
irreplaceable collection material stored there. The hailstorm caused significant
damage to the roof of the Library’s heritage-listed main building, with
substantial associated costs and the risk of further damage through leaks.

COVID-19 presented a range of risks to the Library, its staff and patrons,
including work health and safety risks to Library staff and visitors, as well as
business continuity risks. The pandemic affected the Library’s capacity to
carry out key functions, including its operation as a physical lending institution
(the Library closed to the public from 23 March and began staged reopening
on 3 June) and as a workplace, as well as the continuity of its collection,
digitisation and philanthropy work. From December 2019 through to 30 June
2020, the Library’s Emergency Planning and Business Continuity Committee
and the Library Reopening Working Group met regularly to address these risks
and assess guidance from relevant authorities.

Financial sustainability remains a key risk for the Library, noting the impact
of the bushfire season and COVID-19 on the Commonwealth Budget and the
potential impact on the Library’s ability to deliver its ten-year philanthropic
program. A range of asset sustainment projects remain unfunded or only
partially-funded, including the critical need for a viable offsite storage solution
post 2025. The Library welcomes funding made available to the Department
to investigate collection storage solutions for the National Cultural Institutions,
and will work constructively with the Department on this project.