Archival items are unpublished papers and records of individuals, businesses, and community organisations (such as churches, sporting clubs and special interest groups) which are considered worthy of preservation for the future. The Library collects archival material which is predominantly South Australian in content, or is by or about South Australians and has research value.
The State Library's archival collections began in 1920, when a South Australian Archives was established: the first State archives in Australia. The collection contains material dating back to the early colonial period of the 1830s, in some cases pre-dating white settlement in South Australia.
The archival collection also includes over 75,000 digitised images which are viewable on the Library catalogue.
The State Library is keen to collect material which represents South Australia's people, places and events, and provide evidence of cultural, political, economic and social life over time.
The principal way in which the Library acquires archival material is by donation from individuals, families, societies and businesses. The donation of original documents is preferred, since these have an historical integrity lacking in copies. However, where a donor wishes to retain the original, the Library may be happy to make a copy to add to its collection, or the donor may be prepared to receive a copy and donate the original. Archival staff have guidelines to assess whether material offered for donation is relevant and suitable for permanent preservation in a State collection.
The Commonwealth Government has a Cultural Gifts Program which encourages members of the community to donate rare and valuable items, with taxation benefits.
Because the Library has a responsibility to its donors, archival material accepted for donation remains in the collection and may be subject to donor restrictions where these are unavoidable. In particular circumstances, it is possible that some items may be placed in a more appropriate institution. Donors are advised accordingly and approval obtained before items are transferred.For archival donations please contact the Archival Field Officer Telephone (08) 8207 7260 Fax (08) 8207 7307 or Email
Archival records are arranged in five categories:
To find archival items, simply search the library catalogue for the name of individuals, societies, companies, titles, projects, or related keywords. Most records contain a brief summary with details about each item listed in associated Series Lists. Series Lists not on the catalogue are held at the Information Desk.
Staff at the Information Desk can provide further information or advice about using the Library catalogue and archival materials. Specialist archival staff are also available for consultation.
Archival material can be requested from storage from the Information Desk, by telephone, or email. Material (or microfilm copies, if the original is fragile or valuable) will be sent to the Somerville Reading Room for patron use. Copies of items may be made by staff provided any copyright or donor conditions are met; please see the Donor/copyright permission checklist for requirements.
Although predominantly paper-based, achival material includes any form of record keeping such as:
Born digital formats will be considered if the content matches the criteria of our Collection Development Policy. We are currently putting strategies in place to ensure information is secure and available forthe long term, and that the content and context of the record is maintained so that records can be searched effectively.
Official government records are not held in the State Library, but are held by State Records of South Australia.