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Audiovisual collections: Moving image

The State Library of South Australia's audiovisual collection was established in the 1970s. It now includes all analogue and digital formats.

Scope of the audio visual collections

The formats currently represented in the Library's audiovisual collection include analogue records (wax cylinders, 78rpm records and vinyl records), audiocassettes, compact discs, videos, films, DVDs, computer files (including CD-ROMs), and websites (through the PANDORA program).

Developing the collections

The main source of acquisition of audiovisual material is through legal deposit. Legal deposit is a statutory requirement under the Libraries Act 1982 whereby publishers are required to deposit with the State Library a copy of any audiovisual publication produced in South Australia to ensure its long-term preservation. The Library does not rely on legal deposit legislation to build the collection, however. Staff actively pursue older titles through second-hand record fairs and auctions, and buy recordings and films produced interstate and overseas featuring South Australians. Donations from the community are also very important.

The Library welcomes donations of audiovisual material for its collections, although there may be cases where a particular item is already held in the collection and so the donation would be declined. The Library is especially interested in recordings and films that have had very limited commercial releases and might be difficult to find. Memorabilia relating to the music and film industry is also sought after, such as publicity posters, concert programs, sheet music and the specially designed concert tickets that predate automated ticketing systems.

National Film and Sound Archive

The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) is located in Canberra and functions as the National Library for Australian audiovisual materials - film, television, radio etc. It has official Access Centre partners in each state : the State Library of South Australia is the Access Centre for SA.

We have a small NFSA collection onsite, largely dealing with SA topics. These are recorded in our online catalogue and can be found as a group by searching for National Film and Sound Archive Australia or by individual title etc.

You can request any other items in the National Film and Sound Archive collection to be sent to the State Library of SA free of charge. Look for the links on their catalogue. 

All NFSA material, including material in the onsite collection, is available for use within the State Library only, unless special permission is sought and received from NFSA.

The State Library of South Australia's collections include home movies dating back to the 1930s, silent films, documentary material, and feature films and television productions made in South Australia and by South Australians who have made careers throughout the world. The Library's YouTube channel allows you to view some of our cinematic treasures.

Laurence Casson's film of the Bowker electric car being driven through the streets of Adelaide in the early 1940s. More information at SA Memory.

Published film and video

The collection holds a significant range of film and video material by world-renowned filmmakers including:

  • The legendary J.P. McGowan (born in Terowie, SA in 1880) who began a very productive Hollywood career during the silent era of the early 1900s.
  • Classic South Australian Film Corporation productions of the 1970s, including Storm boy, Breaker Morant and Blue fin.
  • Documentary films made by Scott Hicks in the early 1980s for the SA Film Corporation, as well as video and DVD copies of his recent blockbuster movies, Shine and Snow falling on cedars.
  • DVD, Blu-Ray and videotape copies of recent films by Rolf De Heer, including Bad boy bubby and The tracker, featuring South Australian actor Gary Sweet.

The careers of South Australian acting talent are documented by collecting representative examples of national and overseas works. Sir Robert Helpmann (The iron petticoat, The red shoes, Patrick), Dame Judith Anderson (Rebecca, Cat on a hot tin roof), Keith Michell (Henry VIII, Pirates of Penzance), and more recently Anthony Lapaglia (The bank, Looking for Alibrandi, Lantana) are a few South Australian performers who went on to achieve international fame.

Archival film and video

The Library is developing a large collection of unpublished film, which seeks to document the history of our state, through depictions of family life, cultural events such as the Christmas Pageant, regional development, farming and agriculture. Films are acquired by donation, and range from family home movies found in the garage, to large collections bequeathed to the Library by professional film makers such as Brian Bosisto (who also produced a number of films for the SA Film Corporation, many of which are held in our published collection), John Mack and Percival Moody (over 200 films to date in archival record group PRG 416). Archival film donations are always welcome by the Library.

The Library accommodates all film formats, including 8mm, 9.5mm, 16mm, and 35mm, as well as video recordings including obsolete formats such as UMATIC tape. The Library's Preservation Services staff have technical expertise in handling film, and work closely with local commercial bodies and film experts, as well as the National Film and Sound Archive to ensure that the information is correctly preserved

Access to the collection

All titles in the audiovisual collection can be located via the Library catalogue. Most items can be accessed in the usual way via the retrieval system. However, audiovisual items are only to be used in the audiovisual listening booth located behind the Information Desk, and bookings are required.

The catalogue record will display an original item and in most cases a use copy. The use copy can be requested. The use copy may be identical to the original (for example, a second copy acquired by purchase, donation, or legal deposit) or it may have been produced in-house on blank media, possibly in a different format to the original and with basic labelling.

Where no use copy exists, a special request can be made to staff to produce an in-house copy. There is a turnaround time of at least 5 working days for the copying, which depends on the level of technical expertise required. Please ask at the Information Desk.

Analogue disc (records)
Analogue disc recordings are not made available for public use, due to their fragility, rarity, and monetary value. There is no equipment available for members of the community to listen to records. However, the recordings can be heard on alternative media such as audiocassette or Compact Disc.

Record covers
Record covers, album sleeves and inserts have a separate catalogue item location and numbering. They are shelved separately and can be retrieved for public use, in the Somerville Reading Room, or in the audiovisual booth if accompanied by audio media.

Videos and DVDs
If a use copy exists it will be in onsite storage, and can be requested via the catalogue. Otherwise a copy can be created on demand, with a turnaround time of at least 5 working days.