National Library continues to promote scum

It would have been good to say something nice about the new Treasures gallery at the National Library of Australia. But sadly as they in their lack of wisdom have chosen once again to promote the notorious paedophile and misogynist Donald Friend, one cannot.

Why the Library chooses to continue to promote a vile, trivial, and very mediocre artist is unclear. While it does though it deserves nothing but opprobrium.

I am certainly against censorship, and would not ask that the odious writings and drawings of this man be destroyed or hidden, but they did not need to be lavishly published at vast taxpayer cost (unlike any other work) or be now given the status as ‘treasure’.

To quote Kerry Nagara “Why is the protection of artists such as Friend seen as more important than the active protection and prevention of sexually exploited children and minors?” The reason is because Friend abused and raped children in Bali and elsewhere not in Australia, so it’s apparently acceptable, as Nagara says “It’s basic racism that these children don’t count as much as a white child”


NLA and wikileaks, bad cataloguing has consequences

Twitter posts about the NLA

A cataloguer at the NLA, used the LC subject heading ‘Extremist Web sites’ to classify a number of works to do with Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Wikileaks supporters noticed it –

And, unsurprisingly a large number of people found the use of the term defamatory, given that the heading is normally used for hate/villification web sites. The NLA’s Twitter and Facebook were thus inundated.

Why did it happen?

Let us be sure it was not some conspiracy on the part of the NLA. It was done by a staffer, who didn’t understand the nature of the material.

It is not the intention of this blog to attack an individual cataloguer, as every cataloguer makes mistakes once in a while. But it has been highlighted as it is symptomatic of a wider cataloguing issue at the NLA.

Why are there some cataloguers in the NLA who don’t understand the material that is presented to them – that’s the question, and its one that most current and every ex-NLA staffer knows the answer to. See the post from 30 June.


Mills and Boon in the NLA

One of the authors of this blog, Kristy Fox, interviewed by the Canberra Times on the National Library of Australia’s Mills & Boon collection.

Canberra Times ( article published 22 June 2011

Click on the image to go to the article

National Library at Senate Estimates

Proof Committee Hansard
(Additional Estimates)
[10.35 pm]

National Library of Australia
CHAIR—Welcome, Dr Cathro. Do you have an opening statement?
Dr Cathro—No.
Senator TROOD—Dr Cathro, I understand that the library has appointed a new director-general. Can you
tell the committee when that director-general will take up her position?
Dr Cathro—Yes. Her name is Anne-Marie Schwirtlich. She will be taking up the position on Friday, 11 March.
Senator TROOD—What state will she find the library’s budget in for 2011-12 when she takes up her position?
Dr Cathro—Since the last estimates committee the corporate management group of the library has made
decisions about the 2011-12 budget. We are in quite a tight situation with our budget. We will be reducing staff
numbers. We have to respond to not only the efficiency dividend and the estimated three per cent increase in
employee expenses, subject to the enterprise agreement, but also our need to invest in digital library
infrastructure. Taking those things into account, we have had to make significant reductions in operational
lines in our budget. In addition to reducing staff we will naturally be reducing a number of services.
Senator TROOD—At this stage do you know how many staff you may have to reduce?
Dr Cathro—If you take as your baseline the second half of 2010, where we averaged 444 staff, we will be reducing next financial year by 17 staff.
Senator TROOD—Is the efficiency dividend contributing to that difficulty? How much of a difficulty is it contributing?
Dr Cathro—The efficiency dividend—if you put it in dollars terms—in the current financial year, I think my advice is its value is $684,000. That is part of what we have to take into account.
Senator TROOD—Have you decided how you are going to lose the staff at this stage?
Dr Cathro—Our aim is to entirely reduce staff through attrition. We have a turnover of around 10 per cent or 11 per cent per year. Management believes that it is possible to overwhelmingly deal with the reductions
through attrition and through then redeploying staff laterally into the priority positions, leaving the lesser priority positions vacant.
Senator TROOD—Does the loss of these staff involve the closing down of any programs or parts of the library’s activities?
Dr Cathro—Yes, there are a couple of examples I could give you. There is what we call retrospective cataloguing of the collection; that is, cataloguing material acquired in the past but not adequately catalogued.
That effort will be reduced. We will be reducing our level of newspaper digitisation and relying more on external funding for that activity. We had an online reference service—I can ask a librarian—that we ran
collaboratively with the state libraries. That service has now ceased. We will be increasing significantly the charges that we impose on other libraries for interlibrary loans. They are just examples of some of the budget measures. We are also making significant reductions in travel and other supplier expenses.
Senator TROOD—We do not have much time and I would like to explore these matters a little more fully but perhaps, just finally, can you briefly outline the challenge that you are facing from the digitisation revolution that we are facing?
Dr Cathro—We believe that if we are going to properly document 21st century Australia we have to collect information in digital form. We have so far built quite a rich and complex set of digital collections both
through digitising and through collecting what we call born digital information. But many of the systems we have to manage this are now 10 years old. They need replacement. We are going to invest—we feel we have
to—in some essential minimum activity in the next four years to replace those systems. In fact, that is one area where we will actually be increasing staff, to work on the replacement of those essential digital management systems. We do aspire to digitise more of our collection in the longer term. But to date I think we have only digitised about two per cent of our collection after 10 years of effort.
Senator TROOD—Two per cent?
Dr Cathro—Yes.
Senator TROOD—I would like to ask more questions, but unfortunately we do not have any more time.
Senator HUMPHRIES—The then Acting Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services a couple of weeks ago, in commenting on the lack of space in this building, said that the Parliamentary Library could be forced to move some of its research archives to the National Library. Where would you put them?
Dr Cathro—I was contacted by the Parliamentary Librarian, who suggested that the interpretation of that report should not be relied on. I can only say that we are due to run out of physical space some time in 2014, so that would be a problem for us.
CHAIR—Thank you for appearing before us.

Welcome to the new Director General of the NLA

Anne-Marie Schwirtlich photo
The NEW Director-General of the National Library has been announced – Anne-Marie Schwirtlich.

Here is the bio from the National Archives:

Anne-Marie Schwirtlich was born in Bombay, India. She spent the majority of her childhood there, attending the Presentation Convent in Kodaikanal. She migrated to Australia in 1972 and attended Turramurra High School in Sydney. She graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons).
Anne-Marie Schwirtlich joined the Public Service in 1978 and worked in various departments including the National Archives, National Library and the Australian War Memorial. During this time she also graduated from the University of New South Wales with a Diploma in Archives Administration.
She was appointed Acting Director-General of the National Archives after the retirement of George Nichols in October 2000. She left the Archives in 2003 to take up the position State Librarian and CEO of the State Library of Victoria.

Anne-Marie has had a recognisably successful period at the helm of the SLV, which has seen offsite and onsite visitor numbers grow appreciably. A few years back the SLV21: creating a library for the 21st Century: a strategic plan set out her corporate vision, one which we could say was based on how the NLA was doing things. It might be the case therefore that no great changes in direction are planned. This would be a mistake.
The National Library in recent years has been responsible for many excellent technical innovations, such as PANDORA, , Picture Australia, Libraries Australia and laterly, Trove, but it has not for the most part politically or philosophically led the Australian library community. There is a vacant leadership role which requires filling, let us hope the new DG seizes the opportunities that this position entails. The Library community needs a leader who can advocate and engage on behalf of all libraries on the wider media, political and academic stage.

And here is the Press Release

The Hon Simon Crean MP

Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government
Minister for the Arts
11 February, 2010

New Director-General to lead the National Library

Arts Minister Simon Crean today announced the appointment of Anne-Marie Schwirtlich as Director-General of the National Library of Australia.

The appointment for a five-year term comes at a crucial time as the National Library is embracing and utilising digital technology for collection and storage of key cultural material.

“I look forward to working with Ms Schwirtlich and the Library’s Council as the National Library implements its transition into the digital age,” Mr Crean said.

“The role of the National Library has never been more important.

“With Ms Schwirtlich’s appointment the National Library will be well placed to realise the opportunities of new technology and the National Broadband Network, while developing the Library’s role as a highly valued centre for learning, knowledge creation, enjoyment and understanding of Australian life and society.

“I pay tribute to Ms Jan Fullerton, who led the library with distinction for 11 years until her retirement in November 2010,” Mr Crean said.

The Chair of the Council of the National Library, The Hon Chief Justice James Spigelman AC said Ms Schwirtlich would maintain the Library as an internationally respected reference and cultural centre.”

“Ms Schwirtlich has worked in national and state cultural institutions, including Arts Victoria, the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial and has a deep knowledge of the National Library and its challenges,” Mr Spigelman said.

“Most recently Ms Schwirtlich has been CEO and State Librarian at the State Library of Victoria, and brings a wealth of relevant experience to this new role,” Mr Spigelman said.
Ms Schwirtlich said she was looking forward to the challenge of the new role.

“The National Library of Australia is a leader in the international cultural sector. The role of libraries in this digital age has never been more important, and I look forward to the work of positioning the Library to serve Australians now and in the long term,” Ms Schwirtlich said.

Ms Schwirtlich will take up the appointment in March.

UPDATE: Listen to an interview with the National Library’s new Director General on ABC (radio) Canberra here and hear what she has to say about her appointment and the way forward.