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Libraries Australia: a world of information--find it, borrow it, copy it, buy it.

"Libraries Australia gives every one of us access to more than 40 million items--books, articles, maps, magazines, even washing machines! Okay, not washing machines, but all the rest."

So began the national launch of the free Libraries Australia service, with almost 200 guests enjoying amusing video footage of James O'Loghlin, ABC radio and television personality, in the theatre of Parliament House, Canberra on Monday 27 February.

The Library's Director-General, Jan Fullerton, spoke about the 2002 Senate Inquiry into the Role of Libraries in the Online Environment and the recommendation in the report that Kinetica, now Libraries Australia, be made freely available to all Australians. Ms Fullerton highlighted that this was possible with the financial support and contributions of Australian libraries.

In making this service available, the Library has demonstrated its commitment to removing barriers to information and to reaching out to all Australians regardless of their location.

Guest speakers included Sue Hutley, Executive Director of the Australian Library and Information Association, and Jennifer Byrne, renowned Australian journalist. Ms Byrne spoke passionately about her love of books, reading, research and libraries.

The free Libraries Australia service, accessible from libraries.nla.gov.au, was officially launched by the Hon. Senator Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Tony Boston provided a demonstration of the service, which offers not only the facility to find the resources in Australian libraries but provides a range of options to access these resources--borrowing from a library, copying through the National Library's Copies Direct service or buying through an online bookshop. Despite the age-old adage to never judge a book by its cover, the thumbnails of book covers for many of the books listed in Libraries Australia are displayed alongside the title, adding colour and interest to the service.

The free Libraries Australia service offers simple 'google-like' searching of two databases: the Australian National Bibliographic Database and PictureAustralia. An option is provided through the use of checkboxes to limit searching to a particular format such as journals, maps, pictures, theses, and printed music. The subscription service offers additional functionality such as advanced searching, alerts, personalisation, more databases and options to download records in MARC format. Both services are available from the same URL. Libraries using IP authentication will automatically see the subscription service, whilst libraries using a username and password can select the login link at the top right of the screen to access the subscription service.

Libraries Australia is a key source of information for all Australians, of value to school children and advanced researchers alike. Feedback has been very positive.

"Magic! As a remote researcher who relies heavily on interlibrary loans, this new site is fantastic. It has cut my research workload down dramatically."

"This is a splendid resource. Congratulations!"

"I just tried the new Libraries Australia database. Impressive ... I certainly picked up resources I had not found by other means."

State and Territory launches are being planned with details yet to be finalised.

Fran Wilson

Director, Collaborative Resource Sharing Services
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Author:Wilson, Fran
Publication:National Library of Australia Gateways
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Apr 1, 2006
Words:498
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