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ABC to dismantle sound libraries and send book collection to Samoa

The ABC will dismantle its sound and reference libraries throughout the country, and make 10 librarians redundant in order to free up floor space and cut costs, reports the Guardian.

The sound and reference libraries in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Hobart are used by all ABC programs, including Radio National, Classic FM and Triple J. The libraries’ collections date back 85 years and contain CDs and vinyl, along with books and journals.

A single ‘consolidated’ library will remain in Melbourne with a skeleton staff responsible for digitising only those recordings that are requested by staff. Currently, only 700 of more than 100,000 CDs have been digitised.

Library sources say the broadcast music library has very little metadata to help manage requests from staff, meaning that without the specialist staff familiar with the collection, the works will be inaccessible.

In addition, management at the national broadcaster has announced plans to send almost its entire book collection in Sydney and Melbourne, totaling 22,000 books, to Samoa to free up floor space for the IT division. The collection includes review copies of Australian novels, as well as general interest books.

In response, Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) CEO Sue McKerracher has written to ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie and minister for communications Mitch Fifield to protest the decision.

‘We are seeking meetings with the ABC and the minister to look at alternate options and to discuss the long-term future of the ABC’s nationally significant collections,’ said McKerracher. ‘The decision to close these libraries and make 10 specialist librarians redundant will result in irreversible damage to collections, along with a great loss of knowledge, skill and expertise.’

The board of directors will meet on Thursday, 8 February to discuss the issue.


Category: Library news