The Collection Development Policy (Libraries Tasmania) [the Policy] sets out the principles and priorities that guide our collection development activities including selection, acquisition, deselection and disposal in support of Libraries Tasmania’s Strategic Directions. The Policy ensures we meet our legal obligations as defined by the Libraries Act 1984 and Archives Act 1983 as well as observing our ethical obligations in collection development.

Policy statement

Libraries Tasmania collects material for heritage, reference and public library collections.

Heritage collections include material that is about Tasmania, published in Tasmania, or written by a Tasmanian, in a range of physical and digital formats.

The objectives of this Policy are to ensure that our collections:

  • Reflect Libraries Tasmania's mission and Strategic Directions
  • Meet community needs and demand
  • Meet our legislated requirements to preserve and make accessible, Tasmania's documentary heritage for future generations
  • Inform the community and guide staff on professional and organisational collection principles
  • Support our collaboration with other institutions and organisational bodies who have similar purposes at local, national and international levels
  • Contribute to and support Tasmania's rich cultural heritage
  • Reflect ethical and professional practice and judgement in collecting cultural materials, including respecting First Nations' protocols, perspectives and cultural sensitivities.

Policy scope

This Policy includes the following collection areas which are further detailed in their own Guideline document (refer to section 15 Supporting information/tools):

  • Lending Collection
  • Reference Collection
  • Tasmanian Heritage Collection
  • Community Archive Collection

The following collections are excluded:

  • State records selected for addition to the Tasmanian Archives as these are identified via disposal schedules and authorities issued by the State Archivist.  These legal instruments are created following consultation with government agencies to determine how long state records should be kept to meet business needs, the agency's accountability and community expectations.
  • Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts collection which has its own Collection Development policy.

Legislative responsibilities

This Policy supports the role and function of the State Library Service and associated collecting responsibilities determined by the Libraries Act 1984 and the Archives Act 1983 as follows.

Libraries Act 1984 (Tas)

Section 4. State Library Service

For the purpose of providing, promoting, and advancing, a library service in Tasmania there is established a State Library Service.

Section 6. Functions of Secretary

(1) The functions of the Secretary under this Act are as follows:

(c) subject to the Archives Act 1983, to collect and make available for use by the public books relating to the history and development of the State…

(d) to undertake the care and control of –

(ii) the books and other personal property in the ownership or possession of the State Library Service

Section 22. Certain books to be delivered to Secretary

(1) The publisher of every book published in the State shall, within one month after the publication of that book, deliver at his own expense a copy of that book to the Secretary.

Archives Act 1983 (Tas)

Section 8. Responsibilities and powers of State Archivist

An Act to provide for the custody of State and other records including the following responsibilities of the State Archivist under Division 2:

(1) The State Archivist is responsible for –  

(a) the care of the State archive

(2) The State Archivist has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with, or incidental to, the performance of his or her functions and, in particular, has power to do the following:

(d) accept responsibility for the safe keeping of documents and objects which are not State records

(g) acquiring records by purchase, gift, or bequest or on loan.


The Libraries Act 1984 requires a copy of everything published in Tasmania to be deposited in the State Library. This is a requirement in all Australian jurisdictions and the broad term 'legal deposit' is used. Publications include any book, eBook, website, newspapers, maps and plans, sheet music, sound or video recordings, or anything else whereby words, sounds, or images are reproduced. Further information on Legal Deposit in Tasmania is available on the Libraries Tasmania website. 

Collections overview

The following provides a summary of the different collection areas within the State library and public library collections.


As part of our State Library function, Libraries Tasmania has responsibility for providing a multi-faceted library service with a collecting focus on materials about Tasmania, by Tasmanians and published in Tasmania. These collections and materials underpin equity, intellectual freedom and serve as the memory and expression of our society and culture.

Our State Library collection is made up of:

  • Tasmanian Heritage – including Allport and Crowther Collections
  • State Reference
  • Community Archives


The Tasmanian Heritage Collection includes a state collection of published works such as Tasmanian publications, newspapers, ephemera and nationally significant heritage collections including the Allport and W L Crowther Collection. Libraries Tasmania selects, acquires, preserves and provides access to materials relating to the history and development of the State. Further information on this collection is available in the Tasmanian Heritage Guideline (Libraries Tasmania), see section 15 Supporting information/tools.


Libraries Tasmania manages two significant donated collections:

  • Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts (Allport) – Bequeathed from the late Henry Allport in 1965, a former prominent Hobart lawyer. This living collection contains Tasmanian colonial paintings, photographs, rare books, manuscripts, English and European decorative arts and furniture.

  • W L Crowther Collection – Donated by Dr William Crowther in 1964 comprising his large collection of books, manuscripts, pictures and objects depicting Tasmanian colonial life and other subjects including medical and maritime history, anthropology, natural history and Antarctic exploration. A particular interest was the history of the Tasmanian whaling industry including logbooks, whaling tools and scrimshaw.


The Reading Room at 91 Murray Street Hobart, provides access to an authoritative collection of non-circulating materials to provide answers to a range of questions.  The State Reference Collection offers a collection of resources containing local, national and international perspectives that are current, authoritative, well-written and of enduring value, with a particular focus on Tasmanian and Australian content. Further information on this collection is available in the Reference Collection Guideline (Libraries Tasmania), see section 15 Supporting information/tools.


The Community Archives collection comprise of personal, family or corporate unpublished records. The material is selected for its research value, historic associations and social and cultural significance.

Material may include, but is not limited to, letters, diaries, minutes of meetings, reminiscences, maps, architectural plans, photographs, films, videos and audio recordings.

In most cases, items within this collection have been acquired as donations from individual Tasmanians and organisations such as community groups, churches, businesses and companies, political parties, trade and professional associations and sporting bodies. Further information on this collection is available in the Community Archives Collection Guideline (Libraries Tasmania), see section 15 Supporting information/tools.



Libraries Tasmania aims to present a popular, contemporary, and attractive state-wide lending collection comprised of adult and children's non‑fiction, fiction, and non-book materials, with a focus on current and classic works and a strong commitment to Tasmanian publications and a preference for Australian coverage. It also includes the 26TEN Quick Reads. Further information on this collection is available in the Lending Collection Guideline (Libraries Tasmania), see section 15 Supporting information/tools.

The Lending Collection is predominately a floating collection where items are not housed permanently at one specific library but instead shelved at the library where they were most recently checked in.

The movement of lending items is facilitated by:

  • A state-wide holds system
  • A coordinated monthly transfer system
  • The ability for items to be borrowed and returned to any library in the state.

This enables Libraries Tasmania to manage and curate lending collection areas on a state-wide basis, offering a wider range of titles than would be able to be offered if items were only purchased for individual libraries.


Offers a range of current resources to answer general questions.  Standard resources available in a public library include dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, biographical sources, directories, atlases, bibliographies as well as local studies, and family history items. The size, range and breadth of individual library collections vary according to the size and needs of the local community. Further information for this collection type is available in Reference Collection Guideline (Libraries Tasmania), see section 15 Supporting information/tools.

Freedom to read

Libraries Tasmania upholds the right of individuals to set and follow their own standards for acceptable reading materials, and support the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) statement on free access to information.

Collection Development purchase and acquire materials that have been reviewed and authorised for general public access by the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995. Legal requirements, for example DVDs rated MA15+ or R18, are managed using circulation rules including restricting loans to library borrowers in the correct age group. The censorship of titles such as removing or restricting access to them is not supported even if come clients may find the content offensive.

The selection of items is not influenced by the possibility that they may be accessed by children. While Libraries Tasmania takes every care in allocating resources to appropriate areas of each library, the reading and viewing activities of children and young people under 18 are the responsibility of their parents or caregivers, who can guide the selection of appropriate materials in overseeing their children’s development.

7. Formats

Libraries Tasmania's collections comprise many different formats that vary depending on the collection type. These are broadly explained below with more detailed information available in the relevant individual collection area Guideline, see section 15 Supporting information/tools.


In addition to printed and electronic books, Libraries Tasmania collects rare and unique materials, including journals, government records, manuscripts, films, photographs, sound recordings, works of art, maps, plans websites and ephemera.


Not all published material is suited for the public library environment and not all published material is robust enough to last multiple loans. This must be taken into consideration as part of the selection process. Unsuitable formats may include items which are very large, very small, irregular in shape, flimsy, fragile, stapled or ring bound, contain 'product samples' such as craft supplies or cosmetics, or are designed for a single user to fill in questions or complete puzzles.

Books, audiobooks, magazines, films, and music and virtually all content previously purchased by libraries in physical formats are now often available in digital form. Libraries Tasmania will consider acquiring digital or electronic versions of any item purchased in a physical format, using standard selection criteria, where a digital version is available and where the budget allows. 

Large print format books provide access to reading for many visually impaired or elderly clients for example. Libraries Tasmania acquires a wide range of titles in different genres and subject areas for the general lending collection area and Home Library Service.  We do not acquire Braille or DAISY format books, leaving this to specialist vision support services.

All non-book formats are purchased on a 'basic compatibility' model, for example Libraries Tasmania currently purchases DVD but not Blu-ray, PS4 but not PS5.  Obsolete formats are deselected from the collections once supply is unavailable and demand has ended, for example we no longer hold cassettes, VHS or CDROMs in our lending collection areas.

Full details of the specifications for individual collection areas can be found in the relevant Profile Plans and Selection Principle guidelines. Further information on this collection types is available in the Lending Collection Guideline (Libraries Tasmania), see section 15 Supporting information/tools.

8. Collections guidelines

This Policy is supported by four individual Guidelines aligned to each collection area, see section 15 Supporting information/tools.


The Lending Collection Guideline describes the depth and focus of individual collection areas that make up the state-wide Lending Collection. It also provides a framework to support the ongoing development of the Lending Collection across Tasmania's public library network.


The Reference Collection Guideline provides a framework to support the selection and acquisition of published materials for the State Reference and local public library network Reference Collections. The Guideline also covers what is excluded from the Reference Collections as well as donations, retention, deselection and access.


The Heritage Collection Guideline describes the depth and focus of individual collection areas that make up the Heritage Collection. It also provides a framework to support the selection and acquisition of materials meeting the primary focus of the Heritage Collection which is to collect and make available for use by the public, books relating to the history and development of the State (Libraries Act 1984).


The Community Archives Collection Guideline provides a framework for the selection, acquisition and preservation of collection areas that make up the Community Archives Collection. This collection comprises personal, family or corporate unpublished original records with relevance to Tasmania and its peoples covering the political, social, cultural, religious, economic and natural history.

9. Selection and acquisition

Libraries Tasmania collects high quality items in existing and emerging formats. Materials for the collection can be purchased through Libraries Tasmania's budget.

The acquisition and procurement of items for Libraries Tasmania collections are undertaken in accordance with the principles and guidelines of the Treasury Department, Tasmanian Government.

This includes:

  • Undertaking a tender process for the supply of shelf ready material covering Lending and Reference collections
  • Through Libraries Tasmania's Library Resource budget
  • Purchase orders with local, national and international suppliers
  • Legal Deposit
  • Donations
  • Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Libraries Tasmania also participates in the National and State Libraries of Australasia (NSLA) eResources Consortium and the Libraries Australia Document Delivery service to provide access to interlibrary loans and document delivery service and shared electronic subscriptions.

Further information on selection and acquisition for the different collection types is available in the corresponding Guideline, see section 15 Supporting information/tools.

10. Donations

Libraries Tasmania regularly receives donations of books and other materials by members of the public. Donations are managed depending on where they would be best suited within our collections.

Libraries Tasmania welcome offers of material that:

  • Contributes to Tasmania's history
  • Helps to fill gaps in our collections.


Libraries Tasmania's priorities include:

  • Records of Tasmanian businesses, community organisations, churches and other groups
  • Letters, diaries, photos or other documents belonging to individuals or families living in Tasmania
  • Unpublished or published creative writing by Tasmanians or set in Tasmania
  • Tasmanian photographs, prints or original works of art that document Tasmania's history
  • Published or unpublished material on Antarctica and the whaling and sealing industries.

Items of cultural significance can be donated to us through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

Specific donation offers of material that contributes to Tasmania's history and helps to fill gaps in our collections are assessed by the criteria and procedures available at Add to our collection

Donated material helps safeguard our documentary heritage for current and future generations.


Donations to the lending collection must meet the following criteria:

  • Fiction or non-fiction books, DVDs, or music CDs in good condition
  • Item published in the previous three years
  • There is an existing record on the library catalogue. 

Tasmanian materials are always welcome and may be utilised within other areas of the library collection.  The Library reserves the right to dispose of any items if they are not needed, at any time and by any means, including the right to offer them to any other body deemed appropriate, or to recycle them.

11. Deselection

Each collection type has its own criteria for deselection. Refer to the relevant Guideline in section 15 Supporting information/tools.

12. Disposal

Libraries Tasmania may dispose of withdrawn library items and unwanted donations by any combination of the following methods:

  • Resale via book sales or direct to booksellers (for items that have been identified as having a significant resale value)

  • Transfer to non-profit organisations for re-use by the community
  • Transfer to charities for resale in their retail outlets
  • Use in community outreach
  • Offer to other libraries or institutions (such as state libraries or other institutions such as universities who have relevant collections)

Where items have been identified as having no alternative use, environmentally sustainable practices such as recycling will be used for disposal. Library Managers will make local decisions of how best to dispose of withdrawn stock for pulping

Library Managers and their delegates will document disposal decisions and arrangements for each site in their catchment.

13. Roles and responsibilities


The Executive Director, Libraries Tasmania is responsible for financial and strategic guidance to ensure that this Policy meets our obligations as outlined in the Libraries Act 1984 and Archives Act 1983.


The Director, Collections and State Archivist is responsible for:

  • Providing strategic guidance regarding collection development strategies, management, access and preservation
  • Ensuring our collections are properly cared for, preserved and managed in a culturally appropriate way
  • Providing high level advice on interpreting relevant legislation
  • Providing relevant staff with appropriate guidance to implement this policy and associated guidelines.


The Manager, Collection Development is responsible for:

  • Providing a leadership role in collection development within the Policy and associated guidelines and allocated budget
  • Developing and reviewing policy, procedures and guidelines relating to Libraries Tasmania collection development and management
  • Providing technical and strategic advice in managing and assessing Libraries Tasmania collections
  • Providing guidance to staff to implement collection-related policies, procedures and guidelines
  • Overseeing the work of Collection Development Business Unit staff including ensuring they adhere to this Policy and associated Guidelines in carrying out collection development activities
  • Ensuring requirements for Legal Deposit are met
  • Supporting Collection Development Business Unit staff to engage with the Library Network to:

o  Provide staff mentoring and training around collection development activities

o  Provide advice and support on operational issues

o  Resolve complex enquiries.


Library Managers are responsible for the following within their catchments:

  • Ensuring library staff adhere to collection development policies, procedures and guidelines
  • Allocating staff resources to carry out local collection management tasks including to:

o  Provide advice, support and staff mentoring on managing library materials and collections within their catchment/collective

o  Respond to complex public enquiries regarding collection management processes including escalating to the collection development business unit staff if required

o  Managing donation enquiries.

14. Related Policies

  • Disposal – Policy statement public website
  • Department of Education - Procurement Policy and Asset Sales Guideline

16. Definitions


A group of objects or items collected or gathered together to meet a purpose.


Items that are often printed, that are not intended to last but are collected, preserved and made accessible through library collections. Types of items include theatre programs, posters, guidebooks, postcards and flyers.

Published works

Published works includes periodicals, newspapers, printed matter, maps, plans, music, manuscripts, pictures, prints, motion pictures, sound recordings, photographic negatives and prints, microphotographs, video recordings, and 'any other matter or thing whereby words, sounds, or images are recorded or reproduced'.

State Records

State record means –

a)      a Crown record; or

b)      a record of a State authority which relates to the business or affairs of that authority; or

c)      a record of a local authority which relates to the business or affairs of that authority; or

any other record that was at any time a record mentioned in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) – but does not include a record of the Parliament of Tasmania.