Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

NFSA & NLA National Collections Mgt

Management of the National Collections – Follow-on, Australian National Audit Office, 22 February 2021

Why did we do this audit?

  • Previous audits of cultural institutions have identified shortcomings in the acquisition, storage, and security of collections.
  • This audit is a follow-on from Auditor-General Report No.46 2017–18 Management of the National Collections which assessed the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian War Memorial.
  • This audit assessed the collection management practices of the National Library of Australia (Library) and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA).

Key facts

  • The Library has a mandate to maintain and develop a national collection relating to Australia established under the National Library Act 1960. There are legal deposit provisions under the Copyright Act 1968 that require Australian publishers to provide a copy of their publications to the Library, including digital works.
  • The NFSA has a mandate to develop, preserve, maintain, promote and provide access to a national collection of audiovisual items and related materials under the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia Act 2008.

What did we find?

  • The Library and the NFSA had largely effective governance arrangements and collection management practices.
  • Both entities effectively develop their collections in accordance with their legislative requirements and respective collection policies. Neither entity had plans in place to provide guidance on the removal of items from their collections.
  • Long-term storage is an issue for both the Library and the NFSA.

What did we recommend?

  • The Auditor-General made two recommendations to the Library and two recommendations to the NFSA to improve collection management practices.
  • The Library agreed to both recommendations which focus on updating its business continuity plan and developing a deselection/disposal policy.
  • The NFSA agreed to both recommendations which focus on developing a deselection plan and establishing a process to manage loans.


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