I am the Marie-Louise Ayres, Curator of Manuscripts at the National Library of Australia. In June 2007, I visited the United States of America and Canada to investigate new developments in archival collection management. My trip was generously funded by the Friends of the National Library of Australia, who awarded me a Travelling Fellowship.
This trip came at an excellent time. I am currently planning and implementing significant changes in the way the National Library of Australia’s rich, diverse and large (12 km) Manuscripts Collection is managed. All collecting archives face significant challenges in managing their collections. These include processing arrearages (there is always a ‘backlog’), updating historical practice to meet new international standards, the need to empower users to explore the contents of collections by providing online contents descriptions, and the twin issues of digitising traditional formats and managing born-digital personal and organisational archives.
In undertaking this trip – and by visiting colleagues in similar jurisdictions – I hoped to explore some potential solutions to our collection management challenges. These aims were certainly met; I felt that my time and the Friends’ money was very well spent.