The Catalogue is freely available to search the Library's collections and to view digitised items. The Catalogue allows you to:

  • Search for physical and digital items held by the National Library
  • Request collection items to view in the reading rooms
  • View your previous and pending requests
  • Bookmark an item
  • Cite by exporting the record to a citation tool such as Endnote
  • View and copy citation information for items
  • Find copies of an item held by other Australian libraries via Trove

You need join the Library to request items from the collection to view or to access licenced online articles, journals and databases.

Search includes the Catalogue, eResources, and Finding Aids.

You can conduct a simultaneous search across the Library’s physical and digital collections, as well as eResources such as online journals and databases.

Search results show you:

  • items you can request when you visit
  • items freely available to view online
  • subscription articles, journals, ebooks, and databases, which you can access from home with a Library login
  • finding aids - descriptive lists of a specific archival collection.

Alternatively, you can choose to search in just one of the three pathways:


Search the Catalogue to find books, pictures, maps, oral history interviews, manuscripts and more. Some items can be viewed online but most can be requested to view at the Library.


Search eResources to find digital items that the National Library has licenced. Here you’ll find full text journals, newspapers, ebooks, dictionaries and other databases.

Finding Aids

Search finding aids which are descriptive lists which help to show you the scope, content and size of a collection of items.

Getting started at the National Library video


Hello and welcome to the National Library of Australia. My name is Ella and I'm a reference librarian. This video is an introduction to the services offered at the library. My colleagues and I will show you how to search, request and collect items at the National Library here in Canberra.

Firstly, I'd like to acknowledge that we are recording on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country and pay my respects to the Traditional owners and custodians of this land, to the elders, past, present and future, and through them to all Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The library's role, as defined by the National Library Act 1960, is to ensure that documentary resources of national significance are collected, preserved and made accessible. The National Library is for all Australians. You don't have to be living in Canberra to get a library card or to access many of our online books, journals and databases. The library's collection is a mixture of physical and online items. The collections include items such as books, journals, newspapers, photographs, diaries and letters, maps and oral histories. These are kept in closed stacks and offsite storage, which means that you can't browse the shelves yourself, but you can find all of the material held in the collection using search on the website. You can also request items here once you have a National Library account.

A big difference between your local library and the National Library is that the National Library is not a lending library. You can't take physical books or other collection material home. You can review them here in the library or view them on your computer or other device. If the item you're after is online. When your material is delivered, it can be collected from the relevant reading room desk. When you're finished, if you're planning to view the item again within the seven day borrowing period, you can place it in the hold chute. Requests for items that are held in the building typically take less than an hour to be delivered to the main reading room. Special formats and rare material take longer. Requests for items which are off site will be delivered the following working day, and you can find out more about collection delivery times on the National Library website.

You don't need a National Library card to search the collection, Catalogue, eResources or Finding Aids. You will need one to access physical collection material in the Reading Rooms and to view our licensed databases and ebooks from home or outside the library building. If you're visiting from another country, use the "Ask a Librarian" service and we may be able to help you access our collections. If you live in Australia or are planning to live here shortly, you are eligible for a National Library account. To sign up, go to the website by typing into your browser or search for the National Library of Australia. Here you'll see "Get a library card". When you click on "Get a library card", you can fill in the online registration form. In the form you'll be asked to supply a residential address, email and phone number. Getting a National Library card is free and you can elect to have the card posted to you, which takes a couple of weeks to process or collect the card from the front desk in the main reading room. Having a card means even if you live interstate or can't get to the National Library in person, you can still access a huge amount of information, resources and collections.

To find what you're looking for in the library, Start with "Search our collections" on the home page. The National Library now allows you to search across three pathways at the same time the Catalogue, eResources and Finding Aids. This means that you can conduct a wide search across the library's physical and digital collections, as well as eResources such as online journals and databases. It's an excellent starting point for any research project. Alternatively, you can choose to search in just one of these three pathways.

The Catalogue is where you'll find books, pictures, maps, oral history, interviews, manuscripts and more. eResources include digital items that the National Library has licensed. Here you'll find full text journals, newspapers, e-books, dictionaries and other databases. More about eResources shortly.

Finding Aids describe the items held within a medium to large collection. They are descriptive indexes which give an overview of the scope, content and the size of a unique or themed collection. They are most commonly created for the library's manuscript collections for items such as diaries, letters and archives. They identify which box or file to request. Finding Aids also help you to find out if a collection has any special access conditions or requires permission from the rights holder to use them. Let's begin with a simple search.

Enter a word or a number of words into the "Search our collections" box and click on the red search button. For example, enter Sydney Morning Herald and click on the search button. Results will be sorted by relevance and arranged by Catalogue, Online articles and eBooks, Online journals and Finding Aids. The search results will appear in the three different pathways. Under Catalogue, you'll see print and microfilm copies of the Sydney Morning Herald. Under online articles and ebooks, you'll find full text online versions and under Finding Aids there are special collections that hold articles from the Sydney Morning Herald. Scroll through the list to find the item you are after. When you see something that interests you, click on it for more detail.

If you can't see exactly what you want, you can use the results link to jump into one of the three pathways - the Catalogue, eResources or Finding Aids. This will give you some more advanced options for searching. Let's do that right now by going into the Catalogue and doing another search. If I enter the term "embroidery", we can then work with the filters on the right hand side to narrow down what we'd like to look at or request. Search results will usually appear in multiple formats, as you can see here. You might be looking for a book, a magazine or a picture, and this is where the library will let you know what's available. Use the format facet if you are looking for a particular type of material. Sometimes items will have multiple formats. For example, it might be a book or newspaper which is on microfilm. Access is a useful filter if you are specifically looking for either physical or digital items. For example, if you can't get to the National Library in Canberra, you'll likely be more interested in the digitised options and can then filter out the physical items. National eDeposit items are mostly books and journals which have been deposited with the National Library in a digital format. They are in copyright and typically can only be viewed online from within the National Library or your State Library. You can also filter by year range, author, subject, language, geographic and series to find the items most relevant to your research. One of the facets that we've recently introduced is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language. Aleara is now going to show us how this works.


Australia is blessed to have over 250 Indigenous languages and dialects. Each language specific to a particular place and people. I'm Aleara. I work at the National Library, which is situated on Ngunnawal and Ngambri land. I'm going to show you how you can search for books, journals and recordings in language.

There are two ways to find First Nations language material in the library's Catalogue. The first way uses the drop down button to select the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language under the language filter option, click on the more option located at the bottom of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language filter. You can select the language to view a list of material. Once you select the language, you can refine your search further by selecting options located in the "LIMIT YOUR SEARCH" on the right of the screen. You will see options to limit by formats, authors and subjects and so on. Alternatively, you can search for something in the Catalogue. Results can be filtered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language under the "LIMIT YOUR SEARCH" filter.
If you're searching for music in Warlpiri language, you would select ‘subject" in the dropdown field, type "music" into the search box and click on the search button. Go to the "LIMIT YOUR SEACH" heading located on the right of the screen. Use the drop down button to select the "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" language under the language filter option and choose Warlpiri. Look through the results list to find the item you're after. You can then request the item using your library account, and that's how you can search through thousands of collection items in First Nations languages at the National Library.

There are a range of tools in the Catalogue to help you find what you are looking for, or to keep track of items you're interested in. Here’s Aaron to tell you more.


Hi, I'm Aaron from the education team and I'm going to show you how to use two useful tools in the National Library Catalogue: "Bookmarking" and "Cite". Bookmarking is a way to keep track of items you've used or would like to use in the future.

To bookmark an item you have to be logged in to the National Library Catalogue. Enter your search term. Let's search for "Australian animals". Next to every item in the search results list is a bookmark icon. Toggling the bookmark icon will add or remove the item from your bookmarks. You can also open the Catalogue record and toggle the same bookmark icon located in tools. From the Catalogue records, you're also able to "CITE" any of the Catalogue items. If you click on CITE, you can copy the details of the item to paste into your reference list or bibliography. You can view all of your bookmarks in the top right corner under your log in name. If you click on your bookmark list here, again, you can add or remove items with the bookmark icon and you'll also have the option to cite everything on your bookmark list. You can also click "CLEAR BOOKMARKS" here to remove them all from your list and start again.

Once you've explored the collection and found something you're interested in, you can request it. Bing is going to take you through an overview on requesting and collecting your items at the library.


The National Library has a huge collection of books, newspapers, journals, microforms, maps, manuscripts, oral histories and pictures. It is not a lending library, you can't take items home, but you can request them to use in the Reading Rooms here in Canberra.

My name’s Bing and I’m a Reference Librarian here at the National Library. This is how to request physical items from the collection.

Make sure you are logged in with your name showing in the top right hand corner of the library website. Search for the item you are after, I'm looking for information about family history for beginners, so let's search for that. Select the item you are interested in from the Catalogue results list and click the "REQUEST" button. Choose the items you like to request by clicking the relevant "SELECT" button. Clicking "REQUEST" will complete the process and a "Request complete" message will appear showing which Reading Room the item will be delivered to.

For newspapers, journals, reports or manuscripts, you will be prompted to enter the issue you are after, for example the year, issue number or date to complete your request. You can request up to a 15 items at a time and we will hold your material for 7 days from the day of your request. Material can be requested at any time but will only be delivered at set delivery times on weekdays.

The "Collection delivery" page lists delivery times. Note that some collections may have access restrictions to some or all items within the collection. For collections that have restrictions, please submit an "Ask a librarian" form. Staff will let you know about the next steps, such as if you are required to contact the rights holder to the collection.

After you have searched the collection via the Catalogue and made a request, you will receive an email notification when your item is on its way. The email will also tell you which Reading Room desk your item can be collected from. If you don't receive an email, check your junk mail or log in to the Catalogue with your library account details for further information. Remember that physical items can only be viewed on site at the library. They can’t be taken home.

Once your item is ready for collection, you can use it as many times as you like during reading hours for up to seven days. Just put it in the "HOLD" chute if you would like to use it again. Remember, there are no deliveries to the Reading Rooms in the evenings or on weekends, so you will need to request the items you want beforehand.

Check the National Library websites for Reading Room opening hours and collection delivery times. I hope that this has been a useful introduction to requesting items from the Catalogue. Now I will hand over to Matthew to tell you more about eResources.


Hi, I'm Matthew. I work here at the National Library. A lot of collection items in the National Library are digital and don't exist as physical items. eResources is where you can find all the electronic databases, online articles and ebooks that the library has licensed for you to use. The resources are only available if you are living in Australia and have an account with the library.

You can find a link to eResources on the National Library Home page. Review the licencing terms of agreement to access the online journals, newspapers, etc. Log in at the top of the eResources page. Once you're here, there are a few ways that you can search. The first option is a keyword search, which will search across most of the databases at the same time. You can enter in a subject, an author or a title. For example, I'm going to search for Australian author and illustrator Shaun Tan. You can also limit your search to a particular period of time or just to scholarly publications if that is what you're after. If there's a particular database that you want, then you should go to the "Browse eResources" tab.

Here you can browse by category as you can see down the side here. You can choose to look at databases that are related to a specific subject area or focused on those which are licensed to access from outside of the library. Alternatively, if you know the name of the database that you are after, you can enter the name in the box to search for it. For the library's biggest collection of English language ebooks, search EBSCO ebooks, a database in eResources. This is where the majority of our overseas nonfiction resides. Or you might like to look at NewsBank to read contemporary Australian newspapers. Now you can search for articles or read today's newspaper. All the major Australian dailies can be accessed via quick links on the right side of the NewsBank home page.

There are three categories of results when browsing eResources. Onsite, licenced for offsite access and internet resources freely available. Onsite items are identified by the NLA building icon and can only be accessed in the library building. We have a small number of these and they tend to be specialist family history resources. Licenced or offsite eResources are identified with a key symbol and can be accessed from home with your library account. Internet resources freely available, are identified with a globe icon and are websites you can access from anywhere.

If there is a particular journal or magazine that you are looking for, then it is best to use this - "Publications A-Z". Here you can enter the name of the journal to see if we have online access. For example, you could search for Architecture Australia magazine and it will show you that we have it and which database you can use to access it. The eResources "Help" button provides getting started FAQs, search techniques and instructions on how to save and share content from eResources. Now that we have taken a closer look at using the Catalogue, and the eResources portal, Ella is going to talk to you about the newest pathway into the collections.


"Finding Aids" are descriptive lists which help to show you the scope, content and size of a collection of items. People who have used National Library collections, particularly manuscripts, would have come across them before, as you can find links to them in the Catalogue.

"Finding Aids" search is different because it allows you to search the contents of these lists and find hidden gems more easily. For example, we could search for Australian novelist, screenwriter and journalist Helen Garner. We can see that we hold items relating to Helen Garner within a number of collections of papers. This includes correspondence, a storyboard and script from one of her telemovies, manuscripts and publisher proofs, newspaper clippings, interviews and more. Finding Aids search is still under development, so keep an eye out for new features that will make it even simpler to find and request the items that you want.

Here's Aaron to give you a quick introduction to Trove.


Trove is an important resource to know about. It's the place to explore all things Australian. If you're researching in the fields of the social sciences, literature, local or family history or need inspiration for your school assignment, then this is the tool for you.

Let's start by asking the question - What is Trove? Well, it's a number of things. Firstly, Trove is a collection of collections. It's a free website that provides a single point of access for you to discover millions of items from collecting institutions around Australia. Trove is also a digital repository with a large number of digitized newspapers and government gazettes. The National Library's digital collections are available through Trove, and Trove is where Australian content can be found and often accessed online. It's also where you go to look at the Australian Web Archive. Finally, Trove is a community space where people can explore and curate content, add value by correcting computer generated transcripts of newspaper text or get tips on research, tag and comment on an item they find.

If you want to search for content, you can start with a simple keyword search. For example, if I repeat my previous search for Australian animals, I will find digitised historical newspapers and magazines, images, maps, research reports and more. Here, under books and libraries, I've found my book. If I click on the title, I can see the number of editions and I can see which libraries in Australia hold this book.

That's a very quick look and if you're interested in finding out more about Trove and how you can get the most out of it, you can visit the Help pages on the Trove website or check out @TroveAustralia on Facebook.


I hope that you’ve found this overview helpful. For more videos about using the National Library, follow our Learning Webinars playlist on YouTube. We have webinars on using Trove, doing family history research and much more. We also have research guides on the website which can help you with researching specific topics such as shipping and passenger records, special formats like maps or particular subjects like weather and climate resources. If you get stuck at any stage, you can use the "Ask a librarian" service on the website. Send us your query online and a librarian will get back to you. You can also phone us or visit the library or even send us a letter.

Thank you for watching this video. We hope you're looking forward to getting started at the National Library.