Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

GLAM Peak welcomes AG $42.2M securing Trove

Richard Watts, Trove saved thanks to $42.2 million Federal lifeline, Arts Hub, 3 April 2023

The Albanese Government has provided digital archive Trove with $33 million over four years plus an additional $9.2 million in indexed ongoing annual funding.

The Albanese Government has ensured the survival of 1‘, a digital portal used by thousands of Australians every week for both personal and academic research, after months of campaigning by the National Library of Australia.

One of Australia’s most significant historical and cultural resources, Trove features more than 14 billion digital items including newspapers, magazines and other archives.

Providing a single point of entry to the collections of hundreds of Australian libraries, universities, museums, galleries and archives, it is regularly utilised by academics, genealogists, authors and the general public seeking information about Australia’s past.

Today (Monday 3 April) the Federal Government committed to providing the National Library of Australia, which runs Trove, with $33 million over four years in the upcoming May Budget.

Without this investment, Trove faced falling off a funding cliff on 30 June, when its previous funding arrangements – established by the former Coalition Government – expired.

Crucially, the Albanese Government has also committed to providing a further $9.2 million in indexed ongoing annual funding beyond the forward estimates, a move designed to end funding uncertainty and secure Trove for future generations.

Minister for the Arts Tony Burke said the Government was very aware of the significance of Trove and the importance of safeguarding its future.

‘Trove is, in many ways, Australia’s digital memory,’ he 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,’ Burke said.

The news has been welcomed by the National Library of Australia.

‘We are delighted that Trove’s future has been secured,’ a Library spokesperson said in a statement.

‘Trove has a place for every story, with 14 billion Australian moments captured for future generations. It has a story for every place, with ‘Voluntroves’ from Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory to Burnie in Tasmania. It is where old poetry is transformed into new lyrics, newspapers articles become historical fiction, and where Australian humanities research is powered.

‘Most recently, it has been a place for First Nations communities to continue to tell their stories, through our First Australians pages,’ the spokesperson continued.

‘Trove is a place for all Australians, which is connected to all our places. It is a truly national treasure, and an international world leader. The overwhelming support we have received from the Trove community (both new and old) has been humbling. We take our role as the custodians of Trove, on behalf of the Library and our partner organisations, very seriously.

‘The certainty of this funding decision will allow the National Library to continue to provide this essential service, enrich it with new content, and stabilise and secure the platform, in line with the Trove Strategy,’ they concluded.

Calling Trove ‘a remarkable national resource,’ the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, Shadow Minister for the Arts, said: ‘It is pleasing that the Albanese Government has at last acted to provide continuing funding for the National Library of Australia’s Trove website… It is curious that it has taken until now for the Albanese Labor Government to confirm funding for Trove beyond this point, having failed to do so in either the October budget or the National Cultural Policy released in January.

‘The Morrison Government invested over $24 million into Trove from 2016, and in 2021 provided further funding for Trove of $5.7 million through to 30 June 2023,’ Fletcher said.

Preserving stories for the future

Trove 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.

Trove also contains digital copies of Banjo Paterson’s original manuscript of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, an architect’s model of the Sydney Opera House, the voice of Lionel Rose and radio stories from the ABC chronicling the first mentions of a new invention called ‘Wi-Fi’.

Burke said: ‘This funding helps restore and maintain our strong cultural infrastructure – a key pillar of Revive, the Government’s new National Cultural Policy.

‘It takes us a step closer to ending the budget cuts and culture wars of the previous government,’ he added.

Minister for Finance and Senator for the ACT, Katy Gallagher, said that by providing funding certainty, Trove and the National Library can keep doing what they do best – collecting and preserving today’s stories for future generations.

‘We know just how important Trove is to so many Australians and the Albanese Government is pleased to be able to provide our National Library with the funding needed to finally take Trove off life support,’ she said.

‘Without this funding Trove would simply cease to exist in a few short months – and with that, free, digital access to much of Australia’s history would be denied to millions of Australians.’

This story was updated after publication to include a comment from Shadow Minister Paul Fletcher.

See also: Welcome news on the future of Trove!

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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