Newly released parliamentary report closely aligns with the library agenda

Canberra, 28 October 2021: Australian library peak bodies welcomed the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts ‘Sculpting a National Cultural Plan: Igniting a post-COVID economy for the arts’ and commended the committee for its focus on developing a national cultural plan, investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creators, a review of Lending Rights, cadetships for young people working in the GLAM sector, digitisation of at-risk collections, digital literacy support, and its interest in how copyright law can better support digital delivery.

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) and Australian Libraries and Archives Copyright Coalition (ALACC) also welcomed the Committee’s recommendation that Arts be added to the title of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Marie-Louise Ayres, Chair of National and State Libraries Australasia, said, ‘NSLA welcomes the recommendation for a national cultural plan. We support a focus on digitisation and preservation of at-risk collection materials across all National Cultural Institutions, noting that this same risk applies to libraries, archives and collecting institutions right across the country, and that digitisation, long-term preservation and effective access also require major investment in national digital infrastructure. In line with our own Culturally Safe Libraries Program, we are also pleased to see recommended measures to improve Indigenous representation and participation in collecting institutions.’

Sue McKerracher, CEO of the Australian Library and Information Association, said, ‘ALIA has already begun to explore the opportunity for internships and cadetships at the entry level for future library and information professionals and we are keen to work with the Office for the Arts and Department of Education to support this initiative.

‘We have also worked in tandem with the Australian Society of Authors over a number of years to advocate for the funded extension of lending rights to cover ebooks. While a further review could be helpful, we believe that a solid case has already been made to fund the digital component of lending right for the benefit of Australian authors and readers.’    

Justine Heazlewood, Chair of the Australian Libraries and Archives Copyright Coalition, said, ‘Copyright reform will play an important role in strengthening Australia’s cultural and creative industries in a post-COVID economy. We are pleased to see the Committee note some of our concerns around the need for flexible copyright laws. These reforms are absolutely critical to ensuring public access to Australia’s rich history and culture’.

ALIA, NSLA and ALACC look forward to working with the relevant Ministers and Departments to progress the recommendations contained in the report.