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Donating material to the library: Home

This LibGuide explains how to prepare your material for donation and what kinds of material the library accepts.


The Library encourages members of the community, organisations and businesses to consider donating material for appraisal, especially South Australiana, to increase the depth and range of the library's collections. Most of the library's letters, diaries, photographs, menus, wine labels, toys and games were donated by people who wish to see their items preserved for future generations to use


Ephemera can include calendars, election handouts, menus, postcards, posters, event programs and wine labels. The State Library has a large ephemera collection, which provides a visual and written record of South Australian society from 1836 to the present day. Sometimes the only information available about an organisation, an artist or a venue is from an item in the Library's ephemera collection. Today's ephemera will be resource material for researchers of the future. Please contact  Collection Development on (08) 8207 7323 or Email.

Children's books, toys and games

The State Library has a Children's Literature Research Collection which has over 65,000 items enhanced over the years by donations from the community, and so strongly reflects the interests of South Australian children from the days of early settlement until the present day. Donations of books, toys, games, children's magazines and comics, and other childhood ephemera are welcome. Please contact Content Services on 8207 7262 or Email.

Cultural gifts program

The Cultural Gifts Program (previously known as the Taxation Incentives for the Arts Scheme) encourages gifts of significant cultural items to public art galleries, museums and libraries by offering donors a tax deduction for the market value of their gifts, under Subdivision 30-A of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. Donations must be accompanied by at least two valuations of the current GST inclusive market value, provided by approved valuers. To discuss making a donation to the Library under the Cultural Gifts Program. Please contact the Manager of Collection Development on Telephone (08) 8207 7280 or Email.

Books and other published material

Experience suggests that many books offered to the Library as donations are already held or are somewhat outside the scope of its collections. People who wish to donate published items are encouraged to check the Library catalogue first, and if the items are already held, then the Library will suggest other organisations which may be interested in them, or the Library will gratefully accept them to offer for sale. Where people are not in a position to check the catalogue themselves, the Library would prefer that a list of the books be supplied for checking rather than accept box loads of books which may need to be returned. The list should include author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication and edition statement. Please contact Collection Development on (08) 8207 7281 or Email.

Archival or unpublished material

Archival items are documents that have been made or received or accumulated in the course of everyday living by individuals, families, societies, or businesses, and are considered worthy of preservation for the future because of their continuing value. These are listed in the Library catalogue which also includes over 75,000 digitised pictorial images. Archival material is predominantly paper-based but can include any formats of record keeping such as photographs, films, video recordings, sound recordings, oral histories, maps, architectural plans, posters, parchment, artworks and computer disks. Artefact items, also known as 'realia', such as trophies or medals, are accepted for the Library's archival collections where they support documentary records. The Library collects archival material which is predominantly South Australian in content, or is by or about South Australians and has research value. 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 prepared to make a copy to add to its collection, or the donor may be happy to receive a copy and donate the original.

Official government records are not held in the State Library ─ these are held by State Records of South Australia

For archival and oral history donations please contact the Archival Field Officer Telephone (08) 8207 7260 or Email.

Assessment of material

Few collecting institutions have the resources to accept everything that is offered to them, so staff appraise items offered for donation, and if not able to accept them suggest alternative placements. A receipt is issued for items left with the library for appraisal, with the option for them to be returned if not required.

Any item added to a state library's collection requires a commitment to process or catalogue the item, and house, preserve, and make it accessible, all of which requires staff, financial and space resources. For these reasons, state libraries must assess any item offered for donation before adding it to its collection. The State Library has a Collection development policy against which it assesses donations. Sometimes, for example, archival material is not accepted if the Library already has sufficient examples of that type. Photographs of unidentified people may not be suitable since they would have little research value.

Monetary donations

Some people prefer to make a financial donation to the Library, which could be used to purchase materials or to support the preservation of existing collections. Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Please contact the Marketing and Development manager on Telephone (08) 8207 7221 Fax (08) 8207 7247 or Email.


If you wish to consider making a Bequest to the Library please discuss the matter with the Marketing and Development manager on Telephone (08) 8207 7221 Fax (08) 8207 7247 or Email.

Who we are

State Library of South Australia
GPO Box 419
Adelaide SA 5001
(08) 8207 7250

  How to contact the archival field officers

The appraisal process is at the heart of the State Library's collection development for all categories of archival material. It establishes the archival values of records, for example evidential, legal, informational and historical and determines whether these meet criteria for permanent preservation.

These criteria are described in the State Library's Collection Development Policy.

Archival records may require significant specialist assessment, arrangement and description to make them accessible. This can be very staff-time intensive. Archival records may require conservation, re-housing and considerable storage space. These factors are also considered in appraising records offered to the library.

The Archival Field Officers can be contacted via email or telephone: (08) 8207 7260

They may suggest you bring the records in for appraisal, or offer to visit you to view the records. The appraisal process takes time and large collections may be looked at in stages.