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Retention & withdrawal of information policy

The State Library of Victoria is required by sections 4 and 50 of the Libraries Act 1998 to permanently retain all material that has been accepted and accessioned into the State Collection. The only exceptions to this requirement are outlined in this Retention & withdrawal of information policy.

Section 50 of the Libraries Act 1988 governs the methods of disposal for material to be withdrawn.

Permanent retention

The State Library of Victoria has one of the major research collections in Victoria. The Library permanently retains material which has been accessioned as part of the collection, in accordance with the provisions of the Libraries Act 1988.

The Library has a special responsibility for Victoriana and Australiana materials. It also accepts an obligation to retain indefinitely those items which it has accepted and which have been entrusted to it by donors (unless otherwise agreed with the donor), and as deposits under the legal deposit provisions of the Libraries Act 1988 and its predecessors.

The Library permanently retains unpublished materials, such as manuscripts and pictures, which have been added to the collection.

The State Collection

The State Collection is defined in section 4 of the Libraries Act 1988 as:

(a) all material vested in the Board; and
(b) all publications deposited with the Board under section 49 and accepted for the State collection; and
(c) all library material acquired and accepted for the State collection by the Board; and
(d) all donations, gifts, dispositions and trusts of property real or personal, other than money, lawfully made or declared whether before or after the commencement of this Act by deed, will or otherwise to or in favour of the trustees of the Public Library or of the State Library or of the Library Council of Victoria or of the Council of the State Library of Victoria for the uses or purposes of those persons or bodies and accepted for the State collection.

Disposal of items from the state collection

The Libraries Act 1988 makes provision in section 50 for withdrawal of material from the State Collection and prescribes what must be done before materials forming part of the State Collection may be sold or otherwise disposed of. These provisions apply to all items which form part of the State Collection with the exception of:

(1) an object or class of objects published for the first time within the preceding ten years;
(2) duplicate material, which is exchanged with 'a body which has objects or functions similar to those of the Board'.

For all other materials, section 50 of the Act requires that any object or class of objects proposed to be sold or otherwise disposed of from the State collection must first be considered by the Board, and may not be disposed of unless the Board has:

(a) resolved that retention of these objects or classes of objects is unnecessary and inappropriate to its activities; and
(b) published a notice providing information about the object or class of objects. Such notice must be published at least two months before sale or disposal in a Victorian newspaper, and must be displayed in the Library.

Any item which does not fall into the categories approved below will be referred to the Board for consideration and resolution as set out above.

Categories of items approved for withdrawal from the state collection

The Board has resolved that the following classes or objects may be withdrawn from the State Collection, subject to the conditions specified below:

1. Replacement

Published material, which is mutilated, badly damaged or worn out. This category is confined to items in the general collections that are unable to be read as they are entirely worn out, significant parts are missing, or pages or sections have been deliberately destroyed. When items of this kind in the collection are withdrawn, they will be replaced by copies in better condition if it is possible to do so at reasonable cost. If an item has historic or artefactual value and cannot be replaced by a suitable copy it will be retained regardless of the extent of damage.

2. Replacement by another format

Particular formats of a work (or groups of works) maybe replaced by formats more suitable for access or preservation. When the original is unable to be used and preservation or restoration is not an option, then replacement in another format such as microfilm or CD-ROM may be undertaken. This category does not apply to newspapers which are more than ten years old.

3. Superseded material

Published material that is acquired only for the currency of its information as it is replaced by more current information. This category refers to material that is regularly replaced with more current up-to-date information. Examples of this format include loose-leaf current information files and monthly issues replaced by annual cumulations.

4. Duplicates

Published material which consists of additional copies that are no longer required. It is a general policy of the Library to avoid the duplication of materials. However there are times when more than one copy of an item is required. Duplicate copies are withdrawn when the purpose for which they were acquired has been satisfied. For example, where more than one copy of an item is acquired for current use, duplicate copies may be withdrawn when the period of their usefulness or current reference is ended, provided that at least one copy is retained. Also where a second set of a periodical is acquired for binding, the other set may be discarded.

5. Material written off

This category refers to material recorded by the Library in its catalogue or other records where the Library is satisfied that it is no longer held and, a replacement cannot be obtained.

6. Deposits and exchanges

Material acquired under formal deposit or exchange arrangements entered into by the Library, and which may be discarded under the terms of the arrangement, may be withdrawn. For example, Canadian government publications are withdrawn in accordance with the Retention/disposition guidelines for Canadian government depository publications.

7. Public records

This category refers to material identified as public records which have inadvertently been accessioned into the Library’s collection.

Methods of disposal

The Library uses the following methods of disposal of materials from its collections:

  1. Exchange with other institutions having similar aims.
  2. Donation to other libraries or appropriate institutions, including donation through programs to libraries in developing countries.
  3. Sale. In some cases sale of material is the most effective way of linking an item not wanted by the State Library of Victoria with a person or institution wanting it.
  4. Recycling, in the case of publications not required by other libraries or institutions, and unsuitable for sale.
  5. Donations to a recognized charity for sale.

With the exception of the categories above, the Library does not sell or donate unwanted material to individuals, businesses, groups or staff. In disposing of materials, which were formerly part of the State Collection, any of the methods of disposal listed above may be used.

Material officially withdrawn from the collection is stamped indicating that this is the case, unless secure disposal has been ensured.

Responsibility for disposal

The Library Board of Victoria is ultimately responsible for decisions to dispose of material from the State Collection.

Authority to dispose of material

In respect of material which forms part of the State Collection, the holders of the following positions (or their equivalents if position titles change) may assess whether items fall into a class of objects approved by the Board for disposal and initiate disposal action.

  • Manager, Information Resources Division
  • Acquisitions Manager

Material which is in possession of the Library, but does not form part of the State Collection, and which may legally be disposed of, may be discarded by the holders of the following positions or with their approval:

  • Manager, Information Resources Division (all categories of material)
  • Acquisitions Manager (for monographs, serials and government publications)
  • La Trobe Librarian (for special collections)
  • Rare Printed Materials Librarian (for rare printed materials)
  • Librarians in charge of the:
    -Manuscripts Collection (for manuscripts)
    -Map Collection (for maps)
    -Pictures Collection (for pictures)
    -Riley and Ephemera Collection (for Australian political and social ephemera)
    -Theatre Programmes Collection (for theatre programmes)
    -Australian Art and Artists (AAA) Collection (for art and music ephemera)

Approved by the Library Board of Victoria 3 May 2000
Operational 1 August 2000
Amended 6 November 2002