Department of Parliamentary Services Annual Report 2012-2013

Part 4 Parliamentary Library



Parliamentary Library

 

Parliamentary Librarian's review

Services to Senators and Members

Parliaments need access to timely, impartial and accurate information and advice.

The Parliamentary Library plays an important role in providing high-quality, non-partisan and confidential information, analysis and advice to Senators and Members of the House of Representatives in support of their parliamentary and representational duties. This includes traditional Library services such as books, journals and newspapers, as well as a comprehensive range of value-added services, including online media monitoring, specialist databases, and statistical and mapping services.

The Parliamentary Library is also one of Australia's major research libraries, providing parliamentarians tailored and confidential research briefs and general distribution publications on current legislation and on a wide range of other issues of interest to the Parliament.

The range of services and products offered to Senators and Members reflects the wide range of issues which come before the Parliament and also the personal preferences of clients as to how they prefer to access Library services. The Library tries to present its resources in the widest manner possible, from blog posts on emerging and hot issues to detailed published research papers on more enduring topics, from oral briefings and seminars to quick advice over the phone, and from hard copies of dictionaries and encyclopaedias to the online provision of e-books and serials.

Increasingly these services are delivered online, giving parliamentarians and their staff immediate and 24/7 access to information and research at their desktop or on their mobile device, be it for chamber work or electorate matters. At 30 June 2013, 34 per cent of the Library's collection was available to clients online in full text, and there were over five million online uses of the Library's publications.

Budgetary issues

In 2012–13, Library staff answered nearly 13,000 individual client requests, added over 180,000 items to Library databases and over 4,000 new titles to the catalogue, and produced over 420 publications, including 164 Bills Digests.

This is a considerable achievement—the more so given the tight budgetary environment in which the Library operates. The cumulative impact of efficiency dividends and other savings measures on the Library, as on DPS more broadly, has been considerable. Since 2005–06, the Library's operational funding has decreased very significantly in real terms. During this period, the Library has achieved significantly improved productivity, largely through technological innovation. However, backroom operations have been reduced to a point where savings necessarily impact directly on services to Senators and Members, though all efforts are made to minimise this.

Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information was an issue of particular significance for the Parliamentary Library in 2013–14.

Despite a common and long-held view to the contrary, the Australian Information Commissioner determined that the parliamentary departments of the Senate, House of Representatives and Parliamentary Services were subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) and, in May 2012, issued revised Guidelines under that Act reflecting this. This, inter alia, placed in doubt the Librarian's ability to carry out their statutory obligations to provide confidential advice to Senators and Members, having regard to the independence of the Parliament from the Executive.

The Chairs of the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library made a submission to the inquiry into the operation of the FOI Act conducted by Dr Allan Hawke AC. In it, they noted that the provision of confidential and individually commissioned analysis and advice was fundamental to the Library's service. The Joint Chairs sought legislative amendments to exempt the Parliamentary Library from the operation of the FOI Act. I also made a submission in similar terms.

This issue became of more than theoretical interest in February 2013 when the Library received its first FOI application seeking access to all client advice provided to certain political parties on a particular policy issue (the request was subsequently taken to have been withdrawn pursuant to section 24AB(7) of the FOI Act). Prompted by the concerns of the Library Committee, the Government introduced in May 2013 the Parliamentary Service Amendment (Freedom of Information) Bill 2013. Passage of the Bill by the Parliament restored the previously understood status, pending consideration of the recommendations of the Hawke review (anticipated to be released early in the 2013–14 financial year).

Accommodation projects

Throughout the majority of 2012–13, the Library was the site of construction work, with projects underway on both the eastern and western sides of the main Library. This included the reorganisation and move of a significant proportion of the Library's print collection to accommodate DPS staff moving to provide space for the Parliamentary Budget Office elsewhere in Parliament House. This had a significant impact on amenity and workflows for Library staff, and I would like to thank them for their graciousness and good humour throughout.

Outlook

The immediate focus for 2013–14 will be preparations for the 44th Parliament following the upcoming general election.

Issues of freedom of information and copyright reform will also feature on the Library's agenda in 2013–14. In addition to Dr Hawke's report on the operation of the FOI Act, the Australian Law Reform Commission is due to report on its inquiry Copyright and the Digital Economy in November 2013 (the Library depends for much of its work on exemptions in the Copyright Act 1968).

Budgetary issues will continue to be a significant influence on our performance over the coming year.

I would like to thank the President of the Senate, Senator the Hon. John Hogg, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ms Anna Burke MP, the former Speaker of the House, the Hon Peter Slipper, and the members of the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library for their support and guidance over the reporting period. My thanks go also to colleagues in DPS and in the other parliamentary departments.

And, finally, I would like to express my gratitude to all the staff of the Parliamentary Library for their hard work, enthusiasm and unswerving commitment to delivering the best possible services for Senators and Members.

Overview

Governance

The Parliamentary Library is part of the Department of Parliamentary Services. However, the Office of the Parliamentary Librarian is established as an independent statutory office, and the Librarian's role and functions are defined by the Parliamentary Service Act 1999. The Librarian's primary role is 'to provide high quality information, analysis and advice to Senators and Members of the House of Representatives in support of their parliamentary and representational roles.'4

These services are to be delivered:

In respect of her statutory functions, the Parliamentary Librarian reports directly to the Presiding Officers and to the Parliament. She is also required to report to the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library.

Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library

Until 2005, Senators and Members provided advice to the Parliamentary Library through a Senate Committee on the Parliamentary Library and a House of Representatives Committee on the Parliamentary Library which met jointly. In December 2005, the first Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library was established by resolution of both chambers to:

The Library Committee membership in 2012–13 was:

The Hon. Dick Adams MP (Joint Chair)
Senator Gary Humphries (Joint Chair)
Senator Catryna Bilyk
Mr Russell Broadbent MP
Mr Nick Champion MP
Mr George Christensen MP
Senator Bridget McKenzie
Senator Gavin Marshall
Mr Daryl Melham MP
Senator Lisa Singh
Mr Craig Thomson MP
Senator John Madigan

The Library Committee met on 13 September 2012, 1 November 2012, 14 March 2013 and 20 June 2013 and discussed:

Library Committee 2012–13

Library Committee 2012–13

Structure

The Parliamentary Library comprises the Parliamentary Librarian and the employees of the Department of Parliamentary Services assisting the Parliamentary Librarian.

The Parliamentary Library Executive at 30 June 2013 comprised:

The Library is divided into three functional units:

Figure 3–Parliamentary Library Organisation Chart

Parliamentary Library Organisation Chart

Parliamentary Library Organisation Chart text description

Resource Agreement

To help to ensure the independence of the Library, the Parliamentary Service Act provides that the Librarian and the Secretary of DPS must make an annual resource agreement detailing the funds available for the Library for the ensuing year.6 The Agreement identifies the financial resources provided to the Parliamentary Librarian by DPS to enable the provision of library services to clients. It also details the services provided by DPS to the Librarian. In addition it describes the resources provided by the Library to the rest of DPS.

The Agreement is developed in light of the DPS budget, the relationship between the Library and the rest of DPS in delivering services to Senators and Members and the Department of Parliamentary Services' Enterprise Agreement 2011–14.

The 2012–13 Agreement reflected the annual efficiency dividend of 1.5 per cent and two additional savings measures announced in the Government's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2011–12, namely:

In 2012—13, the major pressures on the Library's budget were:

Staff numbers needed to reduce from
2011–12 levels, with a planned reduction of at least 7.6 positions, to enable the Library to manage within the resources provided. This was achieved by the beginning of the financial year by combination of attrition and voluntary redundancies in the latter part of 2011–12. Further staff reductions occured during the year. Savings were also made in the collection budget (discussed below). The anticipated consequences of the savings measures on levels of client service were reflected in changes to key performance indicators in the PBS, namely:

There were also reduced levels of client service available through the Senators' and Members' Reading Room and the Central Enquiry Point.

Achievements 2012–13

The Library's vision is 'an informed Parliament supported by a Library that delivers services to meet client needs'.

Achievements are described against the Library's strategic priorities.

Create the 21st century parliamentary library and research services

A major focus for the Library is creating services and products that meet the needs of Senators, Members, their staff, and the parliamentary departments in their work in supporting Senators and Members. This means continuing to evaluate and reshape the Library's products and services so that they remain accessible, effective and valued in an increasingly mobile and information rich environment.

Responding to the client evaluation of Library Services

The Library conducts a review of the needs of clients once in every Parliament to help it: measure satisfaction levels with services; gain insights into the use of services; and determine the direction of future information and service delivery.

Throughout the life of each Parliament, the Library also seeks ongoing input from the Library Committee and Presiding Officers, monitors and responds to feedback from clients, and invites Senators and Members to talk to staff about their information and research needs.

The Library's success in meeting the diverse needs of Senators and Members is reflected in the results of the 2012 client evaluation which found that 93 per cent of respondents were satisfied with Library services and that of these, 80 per cent were 'extremely satisfied' or 'very satisfied'. Importantly over 98 per cent said they would recommend the Library's services to a colleague.7

Given the overall levels of satisfaction with Library services, the report did not recommend substantive change; but identified a range of measures to sustain and improve service delivery. Over the past year the Library has made strong progress against all of the recommendations, including:

Sustained and targeted promotion of Library services, particularly newer services such as ParlMap and FlagPost

A new client portal was launched in December 2012 providing easier access to the Library services (see below).

The popular e-newsletter What's new from the Parliamentary Library started to be produced in non-sitting periods as well as sitting weeks. A new quarterly Library e-zine is in development which will highlight services and publications in an online magazine style.

Promotion of research publications and expertise

A review of the Library's research publications has been undertaken to ensure that the products more effectively meet clients' needs (see below).

Developing online training and library orientations that can be accessed at the clients' convenience

Work is underway to develop a more comprehensive suite of online training resources (including videos) for new and existing services including ParlInfo, ParlMap and OverDrive. The new Client Portal brings together all the training resources developed by the Library.

Continuing to strive for a high and consistent quality of response from researchers

More comprehensive guidance is being prepared to assist staff to provide more consistent, high-quality responses to client requests. As a start, the governance papers that deal with service to clients and response to client requests have been reviewed to clarify the processes for dealing with requests that require input from multiple researchers. The Library's Style Guide for internal authors was also reviewed to ensure that appropriate referencing standards are maintained. The Library has commenced regular training sessions, which will continue throughout 2013–14, on issues such as:

Providing Library staff with additional training on the services offered to ensure they can confidently discuss the full range of Library services with clients

Enhanced training for Library staff on the full range of services and products available to clients is underway with information sessions offered on ParlMap, Statistical resources, electronic media monitoring service (EMMS), and eBook services. All library staff are invited to attend, and encouraged to take part by their Directors. Upcoming information sessions include FlagPost, Summon, On-line Databases, ParlInfo tips and Legal Resources. An enhanced induction program for new staff is also being developed to ensure consistency in the training provided.

The Library's progress in implementing the findings of the Review is a standing item on the agenda of the Library Committee.

The Presiding Officers and members of the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library welcome the 2013 Summer Scholars

The Presiding Officers and members of the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library welcome the 2013 Summer Scholars

Summer Research Scholarship

The Library hosted its inaugural Summer Scholars in January–February 2013.

The scheme was an outcome of a review of the Australian Parliamentary Fellowship undertaken by the Library at the request of the Library Committee in 2012. The Committee accepted the conclusions and recommendations arising from the review and agreed to pursue a mix of initiatives in support of the goals of the Australian Parliamentary Fellowship program, including:

The Scholarship is the first of these to reach fruition.

Its aim is to support research by a post graduate student examining an aspect of policy, lawmaking, governance, democracy, politics or parliament, on a topic of direct relevance to the Australian Parliament to:

The Scholarship offers students the opportunity to work in the Parliamentary Library with access to its collections and facilities, and the opportunity to interact with expert librarians and researchers, including a mentor to provide advice during the research project. As well as the opportunity to gain work experience in the parliamentary environment, they receive a small honorarium.

Applications for the pilot round opened on 13 September 2012. Tertiary students who had commenced or successfully completed at least one year of study for a postgraduate degree in an Australian institution were able to apply (applicants must also be Australian citizens or permanent residents).

Seven eligible applications were received by the closing date, an excellent outcome for the first year of such a program. Although only one Scholarship had been offered for the pilot round, as a result of the strength of the field, the Librarian awarded two scholarships:

Both Scholars drew upon interviews with parliamentarians and their staff in the course of their research. The Library greatly appreciates the generosity of these Senators and Members and staff in supporting this new program.

The Scholars completed their six-week placements in the Library's Research Branch in January–February 2013 and presented a work-in-progress seminar in March before submitting their final research reports in May 2013.

The Library Scholars also participated in a workshop for the 2013 cohort of Canberra summer scholars based at the National Cultural Institutions. This was followed by a reception hosted by the Presiding Officers to launch the Parliament's new scholarship scheme.

Both Scholars have given very positive feedback about their experiences in the Library. An internal review of the pilot found it was successful, particularly in promoting the work of the Library and in strengthening its relationships with the national cultural institutions which offer long-established summer scholarship programs. Accordingly, at its meeting in June 2013, the Library Committee agreed to the Scheme's continuation. The 2014 round will be advertised in August 2013.

No Australian Parliamentary Fellowship was offered in 2012–13 due to budgetary constraints.

Knowledge transfer to parliament

Parliamentarians have access to myriad information, far more than they have time to digest and much of it of variable quality or reliability.

The Library's role is to give Senators and Members easy and rapid access to information, analysis and advice by: finding the right sources; evaluating, integrating/synthesizing the data; and presenting information and analysis that is timely, comprehensive and comprehensible.

The Library's primary clients are able to commission individualised research from the Library, and to receive tailored and confidential responses at an agreed deadline, while the answers may be provided in writing, as a verbal briefing, or in tailored maps or graphics. The purpose of this service is to make it easier for Senators and Members to deal effectively with the diverse range of tasks and issues that they encounter each day. The Library dealt with nearly 13,000 such requests in 2012–13. Almost all Senators and Members used our services in the reporting period (98.6 per cent) to a greater or lesser extent—even ministers, notwithstanding the access they enjoy to the resources of the Australian Public Service.

A Summary of questions asked by Library clients during 2012–13

A summary of questions asked by Library clients during 2012–13

The Library has also been developing an increasingly specialised capacity to create maps customised to the particular locations, information and interests of our parliamentary clients, using a range of demographic, geographic, infrastructure, economic or social overlays.

In addition to individualised research services, each year the Library produces a range of publications for general distribution. These are not produced for academic purposes (though the Library endeavours always to maintain appropriate academic standards and rigour) but for the benefit of current members of Parliament. These range from short, topical blog posts to general research papers on topics judged to be of relevance and interest to clients, and Bills Digests which provide Senators and Members with impartial and independent explanation and commentary on bills as they come before the Parliament.

The Library issued 421 research publications in 2012–13 including 167 Bills Digests. Although produced for the Library's clients, these publications have a broader public benefit as they are published on the web and therefore accessible to everyone.

Library publications were recognised by our clients and the community to be of high value. Three Library publications ranked in Australian Policy Online's lists of most read research reports, guides and commentary for 2012:

Publications Review

One of the priorities in the Library's 2012–13 Business plan was a review of the Library's research publications. The last such review in 2006 had resulted in significant streamlining of the suite of publications. In part, the driver for the current review was the recommendations of the 2012 Client Evaluation of Library Services. However, the changes in the parliamentary environment since the last review, including the burgeoning of new mobile technologies and an increasingly constrained Library budget, also made the review timely.

The aim was to determine how the Library's research publications might be changed or better targeted to offer greater benefit to clients. The review, led by the Assistant Secretary Research Branch and the Director Social Policy Section, included:

The review looked at three key issues: what researchers write about—the choice of topics and publication mix; how publications are commissioned; and the accessibility of publications—how easy are they to find and use. It included a focus on identifying strategies to:

At its June 2013 meeting, the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library Committee accepted the conclusions and recommendations arising from the review. The Committee agreed that the Library fine tune its suite of publications to encompass:

The launch of the new suite of publications will coincide with the commencement of the 44th Parliament.

Budget Seminar and Budget Reviews

On 14 May 2013, the Library held its annual Budget Seminar. Members of the Economics Section spoke about how to assess the quality of Budgets and how to find information in the PBS. The session was extremely popular, with 100 passholders attending and latecomers finding only standing room remaining. The seminar is available online at:

http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/Vis/vis1213

The Parliamentary Library also produced its annual Budget Review to assist parliamentarians consider the key issues posed by the 2013–14 Budget. The review included a macroeconomic analysis and commentary on the Budget as well as examination of key measures across all portfolios. It was prepared under significant time pressures with a view to making it available to parliamentarians as soon as possible: 64 articles were published in the two-week period following Budget night and the start of the Senate's Budget estimates hearings. The review is available online at:

http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/BudgetReview201314

Connect clients with information

Growth of online resources

A major service strategy is to increase the amount of the Library's collection available online, including content created by the Library's researchers, to meet the changing needs of Senators and Members. Resources need to be easily accessible to those in electorate offices as well as those in Parliament House.

The percentage of the Library's collection available in digital form, which allows clients to have easy access to material wherever they are located, increased from 33 per cent at the end of June 2012 to 34 per cent at the end of June 2013.

The use of the digital collections continues to grow, with a steady trend upwards matched by a corresponding decline in the use of the print collection.

Figure 4—Use of the print collection

Use of the print collection

Use of the print collection text description

Figure 5—Use of electronic publications archived in the Electronic Resources Repository

Use of electronic publications archived in the Electronic Resources Repository

Use of electronic publications archived in the Electronic Resources Repository text description

The use of the Parliamentary Library's Electronic Resources Repository (ERR) was high during 2012–13, with a total of 440,135 page views. The resources contained within the repository were published online and archived into the ERR by Library staff. The top five viewed titles during 2012–13 were:

Proactive Management of the Library Collection

The Parliamentary Library's collection budget is modest. The major part of the Library's collection expenditure is on current sources of information: journals, reference materials and news services.

In 2012–13, the collection budget was directly affected by the additional 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend and 20 per cent reduction in departmental capital funding announced in the Government's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook for 2011–12. This was managed by a rolling collection review to identify subscriptions to print and online resources that could be discontinued to find the required savings.

The review:

The review identified a number of low-use titles for cancellation. Purchase of hard-copy fiction for the Senators' and Members' Reading Room was suspended. Subscriptions to hard-copy Australian newspapers for internal Library use were reduced and the majority of overseas newspaper titles held in the Senators' and Members' Reading Room were cancelled (these titles were all available online).

Summon

In 2011–12, the Library initiated a trial of Summon, a federated search tool, to provide easier access to its print and digital collections. Summon allows searching across many electronic information sources including a large number of the commercial electronic resources the Library subscribes to, as well as in-house databases uploaded to Summon such as the press clippings and media releases, electronic media monitoring metadata, Library publications including Bills Digests and the Library catalogue.

In March 2013, the Library reviewed the trial to determine whether Summon offered value for money and its subscription should be renewed. The evaluation noted that feedback from users had been positive overall as Summon was seen to simplify access to the slightly daunting number of databases and serials in the Library's collection. It also found that, after a slow start, use of the service was increasing. Interestingly, this upward trend coincided with the launch of the new client services portal where a link to Summon is placed prominently on the home page.

Consequently, the Library has extended the service and continues to work with the vendor, Serials Solutions, and the user community to implement enhancements to the system.

Digitisation

Digitisation of material in the Library's collection, both contemporary and historic collections, remains a priority, although it must be managed within available resources.

The Library has archives of paper or pre-digital media audiovisual material that it has identified as likely to be of ongoing interest to Senators and Members. This material is being digitised progressively and added to the permanent digital collection as Library resources permit. Factors that the Library considers when undertaking digitisation projects include:

  1. current demand—how often are clients requesting the material in its pre-digital format?
  2. potential use—if the content was more easily accessible would use increase?
  3. preservation/useability—is the content fragile or likely to be unusable in the foreseeable future?
  4. costs of digitisation—what can be done at a local level using available staff/equipment and what is a large scale project that would involve an external provider?
  5. storage; and
  6. staff skills.

Like the digitisation of Hansard, this work makes available to the wider community important documents of Australia's public life.

With the exception of a Centenary of Canberra project discussed below, due to budgetary constraints, all digitisation work in 2012–13 was carried out by Library staff as a business as usual activity, as time allowed. This resulted in digitisation of:

Support the Parliament's engagement with the community and democracy

The year 2013 is a significant one for the nation—marking the centenary of Canberra, the national capital, and the 25th anniversary of the opening of Parliament House.

As its modest contribution to the celebration of these twin anniversaries, the Library developed an online chronology, Australia's Parliament House—more than 25 years in the making!

The chronology charts the major events in the history of the national capital and the building of Parliament House, as well as the heritage significance of the arts and crafts and the various collections that are housed in the building. Its main focus, however, is on the history of the building as the home of the Commonwealth Parliament over the last 25 years. It also illustrates the role of Parliament House as a place of national commemoration, celebration and protest.

The chronology was compiled from published sources and archival records held by DPS, as well as from national collecting institutions, organisations and individuals. It is enlivened by a rich selection of digital images, videos and recordings drawn from national collections as well as from the Parliament's own archives.

The chronology was officially launched on 15 March 2013 by the Joint Chairs of the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library, the Hon. Dick Adams MP and Senator Gary Humphries.

As an adjunct project, the Library embarked upon a project to digitise a small collection of materials relating to the foundation of the federal capital and the construction of the two Parliament Houses. The collection includes maps, reports and design documentation. The collection includes also items of ephemera related to the celebrations for Federation and the opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne in 1901. Digitisation of this material will facilitate its preservation and make it more widely accessible.

Digitisation was largely complete by the end of 2012–13, with the majority of the material available through the Library catalogue and accessible via on the parliamentary computing network (PCN). Once the project is completed later this year, the material will be freely accessible by the wider community.

The collection of ephemera will also be on display in the Library during the 2013 Parliament House Open Day on 24 August.

Invitation to the Australian Commonwealth Celebrations, Victoria, 1901

Invitation to the Australian Commonwealth Celebrations, Victoria, 1901, digitised as part of the Library’s contributions to the centenary celebrations of the national capital

Chronology author, Joy McCann, demonstrates the chronology to Parliament House architects Romaldo Giurgola and Hal Guida

Chronology author, Joy McCann, demonstrates the chronology to Parliament House architects Romaldo Giurgola and Hal Guida

Engagement with other Parliamentary Libraries in Australia and beyond

In April 2013, the Library hosted a Research and Reference symposium on behalf of the Association of Parliamentary Libraries in Australasia (APLA). The workshop provided a forum to discuss issues that are shaping the operating environment of parliamentary libraries. Topics included how to deliver mobile services, improving quality control, and marketing library products. The workshop was well received by participants, and the key issues arising will be taken up at the 2013 APLA conference to be held in NSW in October.

The Library is committed to supporting parliamentary libraries in the region, particularly in Pacific countries and in emerging democracies.

The 13th plenary session of the National Assembly of Vietnam resolved to establish a National Assembly Library to support its deputies and committees. Dr Ngyuen Si Dzung, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly, subsequently invited the Australian Parliamentary Library to participate in a workshop in October 2012 to consider possible models for their new Library, with a particular emphasis on research services. The workshop was jointly organised by the National Assembly and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), a German-based foundation supporting democratic institutions.

The Library was represented by Mandy Biggs from Research Branch who gave a presentation on research services and participated in roundtable discussions. Other participants included deputies from the National Assembly, the Office of the National Assembly, representatives from government ministries, KAS, and legislative libraries in South Korea and Japan. The outcomes of the workshop were to inform the Assembly committee tasked with developing recommendations on the development and shape of the new Assembly Library. Coverage of the workshop can be found at http://talkvietnam.com/2012/10/seminar-on-parliamentary-library-for-Vietnamese-na/ .

In 2013, the Library is participating in the Pacific Parliamentary Scholarships Scheme, one of the regional programs funded under the Australian Government's Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Initiative (2012–22). For the first year of the program the Library will host a one-month placement for two scholarship recipients from Pacific legislatures. Applications closed on 28 June 2013. The successful applicants are expected to begin their placements in the Library in August 2013.

During the year, Library staff presented to parliamentary delegations from Indonesia and Tanzania, and participated in a Pacific Parliamentary Leadership Dialogue organised by the Centre for Democratic Institutions.

The Speakers of both the upper and lower houses of the Myanmar Parliament visited the Australian Parliament, in September and October respectively. Both were very interested in the operations of the Library, given the Myanmar Parliament is also in the process of developing its Library. Liz Luchetti, then Director of Collection Development, had been part of an IPU-sponsored mission to Myanmar in 2012; and Joanne James, Director, Client Relations, will be participating in a further mission in July 2013 to build the Library's skills in the development of web based services.

The Library also hosted visits from the PRS Legislative Research Service (India), the National Diet Library (Japan), the National Assembly Library of Korea, the Samoan Legislative Assembly and the Welsh National Assembly Research Service.

Use technology to support better services

New client service portal

In December 2012, the Library launched its new client services intranet portal.

The client portal is the main service access point for Senators and Members and other Library clients, linking to news services, Library catalogues, publications, databases, online mapping services and staff directories.

The existing site had been designed in the early 2000s and had received only minor updates since then. By 2011–12, its look and feel had become dated and access to information about services and to online resources cumbersome. In addition, the management and maintenance of the portal's underlying technology was unsustainable.

The aim of the redevelopment was to create a modern, one-stop shop for Library clients to access services and resources from anywhere and at any time, including on mobile devices. It needed also to be easy to maintain and sufficiently flexible for staff to be able to change content and structure as Library services changed.

While discussions on a new portal had been underway in the Library for many months, work on the project began in earnest in June 2012 with CoreDelta appointed through a Request for Quotation. The project was managed by the Library's Director of Client Relations and overseen by a working group drawn from the Parliamentary Library and from the chamber departments. Library staff provided feedback and suggestions throughout the project. Regular updates were provided to the Library Committee. And—to try to ensure the new site would best meet client needs—in the test phase, feedback was also sought from clients (parliamentarians and their staff and chamber staff).

The project was completed on time and within its (modest) budget of $80,000. The new portal deployed successfully on 11 December, providing clients with easy access to information and better integration to the applications and services it links to. Feedback from clients and Library staff has been positive.

News Services Review

The Parliamentary Library provides a range of online news services to Senators, Members, their staff and staff of the four parliamentary departments, including:

These are among the most frequently and heavily used of the Library's services. In financial year 2012–13 the total cost of these services was $494,371 or nearly 25 per cent of the total budget for information resources. While these are high priority services for Senators and Members, sustainability remains a key issue, given the pressures on the collection budget.

In 2012–13, the Library reviewed its online news services as a number of key contracts were due to expire. The review included:

The Library subsequently went to market with a Request for Tender in February 2013. The chamber departments accepted an invitation to work with the Library in developing the Statement of Requirements and, in the subsequent tender evaluation process, to help ensure that the resultant services best meet our clients' needs.

The new contracts will be put in place progressively in 2013–14 as existing agreements and annual subscriptions expire.

Pleasingly, as a result of the approach to market, the Library will shortly be introducing a new service for its clients—a social media monitoring and analysis platform, which covers Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and blogs. The new service will be launched in August 2013 for a trial period of 12 months to enable the Library to evaluate the benefits and usage of this new service.

Unfortunately, the tender did not provide a solution to what is an increasing challenge for the Library—providing clients with access to content from online news sites.

While there have always been differences in news coverage between different editions of print newspapers, its extent was limited by practical constraints. Online news sites and digital editions of newspapers, however, offer infinite flexibility. Typically they are regularly updated throughout the day with breaking news or blogs and carry news stories that do not appear in a newspaper's print edition. Site licence restrictions limit usage and, increasingly, this material is located behind metered pay-walls. However, given that these arrangements are in Australia in their infancy, the major news organisations have not yet put in place institutional licensing arrangements for libraries or other groups. The Library will continue to liaise with key news organisations to try and arrive at a cost-effective solution for its clients.

Media services: radio and television programs

In September 2012, the Library launched a new and better platform for its Electronic Media Monitoring Service (EMMS).

EMMS is available to Senators, Members, and their staff, and approved parliamentary research staff through the PCN. The service records news and current affairs radio and television programs to support Senators and Members in their parliamentary duties.8

EMMS collects and makes available for download selected TV and radio content 24/7. Senators and Members are able to view, browse, search and download TV and radio programs, metadata, transcripts or captions (when available) via their PCs, laptops or mobile devices.

The new system, which has been very well received, uses a web-based interface that makes searching and viewing easier. As well, for the first time, Senators and Members are able to save and download television and radio content at either a high or low resolution. Radio and television programs selected to be recorded are available for viewing and downloading within five minutes of their start time.

This new EMMS interface was developed as part of a larger project, ParlView, which is discussed elsewhere in the DPS annual report.

As a result of moving to the new system, the Library has increased its coverage of TV channels and radio channels, and clients now have access to channels such as CNN, Sky Business, and the Australia Network.

At the time of the launch, about 12 months of content was available on the new system. There were slight delays in the migration of the remainder of the content to the new platform (dating back to 2004); however, the process was completed by the end of February 2013 (clients could request this information from EMMS staff in the interim period).

The Library has reciprocal arrangements with State parliamentary libraries to access content not broadcast or available in Canberra.

E-Books

One of the Library's strategic goals is to increase its collection of e-Books to enable Senators and Members and their staff easy access to books from wherever they are working. The Library's e-Book collections can be read in the browser online or downloaded to a computer, laptop or mobile device and read offline.

In March 2012, the Library added OverDrive to its digital resources. OverDrive is a multichannel digital distributor of e-Books, audio books, music, and video.

In August 2012, the Library implemented EBL, one of the world's leading e-Book aggregators. EBL's catalogue represents over 250,000 scholarly titles from more than 350 major academic publishers, including Taylor and Francis, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Kluwer, Springer and World Scientific. EBL's focus is on recent titles, principally in the areas of science, technology, medicine, social science, humanities and business.

A major feature of EBL is its signature lending system called Nonlinear lending which enables the Library to buy one copy of an e-Book and lend it simultaneously to multiple users (up to 325 times each year).

Strategic and Workforce Planning

There was further change in the Library's senior leadership team in 2012–13. Jonathan Curtis was appointed Assistant Secretary of Research Branch in December 2012 (the position being vacant following the appointment of Dianne Heriot as Parliamentary Librarian in May 2012). Judy Hutchinson commenced retirement leave in April 2013, ahead of her formal retirement in July 2013, after 25 years of service in the Parliamentary Library. Liz Luchetti commenced acting in this position in April 2013.

At 30 June 2013, the Library had a head count of 141 employees (FTE 128.33):

Twenty-five staff left in 2012–13, a separation rate of 17.7 per cent. Of these, 12 (9.4 per cent) were on going employees; and the rest were non-ongoing staff, including those engaged on a sessional basis to cover peak periods of client demand. The main reasons for separation during 2012–13 were:

As at 30 June 2013, 31 per cent of ongoing employees were eligible to retire (55+ years). A further 31 per cent will become eligible over the next 10 years. This is not a new issue. In fact the Library's ageing workforce rate has slowed over recent years. At 30 June 2013, the total ongoing workforce at risk of retirement in the next 5 years was 49 per cent—in 2006, the figure was 56 per cent.

One factor in staff separation was career development, with the promotion (transfer) of staff to other agencies including other parliamentary departments. Unusually, this year all of the resignations related to staff leaving to take up new opportunities rather than staff retiring to take up a superannuation advantage from the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (the so called 54/11 resignations).

The 2012–13 separation rate for ongoing Library staff (9.4 per cent) is considerably lower than the previous year's (20 per cent). There was a strong focus on staffing costs in the second half of 2011–12 in response to the additional savings measures announced in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2011–12. This was necessary to enable the Library to manage within the resources available in 2012–13.

Budgetary pressure continued to be a driver of staff separations and structural changes in the Library in 2012–13.

As a result of a staff initiated process, the Publishing section in Information Access Branch was disbursed. Following the voluntary retirement of the section head, section functions and staff were moved to other sections in that branch and to the Office of the Parliamentary Librarian. The restructure was agreed following consultation with Library staff and union representatives. Throughout the year, other savings were achieved by reviewing positions as they fell vacant, not filling some and reclassifying others. However, other changes to staffing numbers, particularly in the area of collection acquisitions and maintenance, were the result of the increasing percentage of the Library's collection that is digital and the corresponding decline in the use of the print collection.

Accommodation

Accommodation planning to utilise Library floor space in the main library more efficiently and to modern standards commenced in 2009–10.

A project to refurbish staff accommodation (offices and an open plan) on the eastern side of the main Library was completed in 2012–13.

The new design maximises light, and incorporates small meetings rooms, some offices for senior research staff, a kitchenette, a cloakroom and two dedicated rooms for the Mapping Section and for scanning/digitisation of content for the Library's databases. Prior to the refurbishment, the refurbished area accommodated 26 staff from four sections in the Library. This has increased to 36 staff from five sections. The new area and fit-out was designed by Guida Moseley Brown Architects and the project funded under DPS's capital works budget.

There was also a significant reorganisation and consolidation of the Library collection in
2012–13. As part of its ongoing collection management strategy, the Library has withdrawn older material that is available online (including a second set of print Hansards) and, for ease of use, reorganised its serials collection and Parliamentary Papers into a single sequence.

The space freed up by the reorganisation of the Library's collection has been redeveloped for use by other areas of DPS (Finance, Procurement and Records Management Unit) being moved to enable the Parliamentary Budget Office to be accommodated in Parliament House.

What our clients said -

'We have the excellent resources and research capacity of the Parliamentary Library."
Senator Wright, Senate Hansard 20 November 2012 page 9234

"I do want to compliment the Parliamentary Library not only for the extraordinary work they do all the time but also for their biographical information packs on people ... "
Senator Moore, Senate Hansard 12 March 2013 page 1509

"Members should also never forget that, irrespective of who is in government, they must properly resource and protect the independence of the Parliamentary Library. It is an exceptionally valuable resource making a major contribution through its research capacity to the strength of our democracy."
The Hon Martin Ferguson, House of Representatives, Hansard 29 May 2013 page 61

"The Parliamentary Library is probably the best research library in Australia, it's a fantastic institution"
Malcolm Turnbull, Capital Hill ABC 7 June 2013

" ... the Parliamentary Library, the best collection of this country's smartest minds-and I do not mean just the books but the people in it. Your knowledge and ability to assist in this place is a great asset and should always be well funded and independent."
Senator Trish Crossin, Senate Hansard 18 June page 48

"Obviously, the Parliamentary Library is a very valuable asset to senators and members here, and I am very proud to be on the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary library. The library has a fiction section as well as a non-fiction section, and there are some brilliant books in there. I would encourage any member or senator who has not been in the Parliamentary Library to go in and support it."
Senator Bilyk, Senate Hansard 19 June page 29

"Speaker, we had a discussion before about privileges matters relating to a committee and that should have served as a reminder of the fact that, for this parliament to conduct its business appropriately, the House of Representatives and its processes, the Senate and its processes and the very vital role that the Parliamentary Library plays in providing confidential advice to members of parliament must be sacrosanct. It would literally be an undermining of democracy and of the ability for the parliament to perform its important functions if this legislation was not carried and the position made clear."
The Hon Anthony Albanese House of Representatives Hansard 29 May 2013 page 6

Report on performance

Subprogram 1.1—Library Services

Introduction

Subprogram 1.1 aims to provide an effective knowledge centre for the Parliament through the provision of information, analysis and advice. These services are provided through two subprograms:

  1. Subprogram 1.1.1—Research services. These services include responding to requests from individual parliamentary clients for information and research, and the production of general distribution briefs and publications.
  2. Subprogram 1.1.2—Information access services. Information services are provided to the Library's clients by acquiring and providing access to information resources, through the selection, processing and indexing of material for library and media databases in ParlInfo, and by publishing print and electronic works.

Performance is assessed using indicators that cover quality, quantity and price. Indicators, performance results and relevant comments are shown against each of the subprograms.

Table 1 quantifies the performance of research services, and Table 2 illustrates the costs associated with providing research services.

Table 4.1—Research services—subprogram 1.1.1—deliverables

Deliverable

Measure

Performance

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

Individual client requests

Percentage of primary clients (Senators' and Members' offices and Ministers' offices) using the services (target: 100%)

100%

100%

98.6%

 

Number of individual client requests (target: 13,000)

13,818

15,460

12,957

Self-service requests

Number of online uses of the Parliamentary Library's publications, including the Parliamentary Handbook and General Briefs and Publications, through ParlInfo and the Internet (target: 5,400,000)

6.95m9

4.8m10

5.3m

General briefs and publications

Number of general briefs and publications produced (target: 260)

361

427

421

Client training and seminars

Attendance at training courses and events (eg Vital Issues seminars)
(target: 500 attendees).

508

589

601

Table 4.2—Research services—subprogram 1.1.1—price indicators

Deliverable

Measure

Performance

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

Cost of research services

Average cost per individual client request

$495

$426

$483

 

Average direct cost per self-service client request (staff time only)

$0.49

$0.68

N/A11

Total cost of subprogram12 1.1.1

$12.15m

$11.582m

$11.523m

Subprogram 1.1.1—Research services

Client requests

During 2012–13, 98.6 per cent of the Library's primary clients (Senators' and Members' offices, including Ministers' offices) used the client request service at least once—falling below the target of 100 per cent for the first time in several years. The Library will monitor usage closely in the 44th Parliament and consult with clients to help ensure services are appropriately targeted.

The number of client requests decreased significantly compared to the previous financial year consistent with the reduced target. This may also reflect the different pattern of use for Library services in election years as Senators and Members finalise their policy positions and turn their focus to campaigning in their electorates.

General briefs and publications

In 2012–13, the Library produced 421 publications, only slightly less than the previous financial year and a considerable achievement given the reduction in staff numbers.

A total of 152 FlagPost blogs were written and posted in the financial year. The blogs are short, timely analytic works which provide clients with up-to-date information on a current topic.

Bills Digests are primarily written for government Bills introduced into Parliament. Digests may also be written for Private Senators' and Members' Bills where there is a reasonable prospect of the Bill being debated.

The Library published 164 Bills Digests, five of which were for Private Senators' and Members' Bills. For a variety of reasons, it is not always possible to prepare a Digest for every Bill. However every effort is made to support clients by providing draft Digests or other briefing material (for example on 12 February 2013, the Library released a Background Note on Same-Sex Marriage ahead of the anticipated private members' Bills dealing with that issue).

In 2012–13, hours spent on publications increased significantly (by 13.7 per cent) and hours spent responding to enquiries placed directly by Senators and Members stayed constant. However, hours on client services to parliamentary committees, parliamentary departments and reciprocal arrangements increased by approximately 19 per cent. The apparent increase in overall hours worked reflects improved reporting as staff became accustomed to the new recording system for client enquiries, which had been implemented in 2011–12.

Figure 6—Distribution of client service hours by service type

Distribution of client service hours by service type

Distribution of client service hours by service type text description

Client training and seminars

During 2012–13, the Library induction and orientation services were held for 112 clients. These continued to be successful in providing, through individual and small group sessions, a timely and detailed introduction to Library services.

Parliamentary Library Lectures attracted 489 attendees in 2012–13.

The aim of the seminar program, which has been running since 1986, is to bring notable speakers to the Parliament to give Senators and Members and their staff the opportunity to hear, first hand, expert opinion on a range of currently relevant topics. Speakers covered a diverse range of topics: pharmaceutical pricing reform; Royal commissions and public inquiries; copyright; the US Presidential election; inequality; Australia and modern slavery; aged care reform; cyber security; and the white paper on Australia and the Asian Century. Seminar recordings are available on the aph website.

Client satisfaction with requests and general briefs and publications (GBPs)

Table 4.3 shows the level of satisfaction with research services.

Client satisfaction with the Library's service in the 43rd Parliament is 93 per cent, up from 87 per cent in the previous survey. Of these, 80 per cent were 'extremely satisfied' or 'very satisfied' and around 98 per cent would recommend the Library's services to a colleague.

Performance against the timeliness target met the target of 90 per cent.

The Parliamentary Library is committed to improving its service delivery. Feedback from clients, including compliments, complaints, suggestions and information requests about services, are vital to enable the Library to:

Table 4.3—Research services—subprogram 1.1.1—key performance indicators

Key performance Indicator

Measure

Performance

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

Client satisfaction with requests and general briefs and publications (GBPs)

High level of customer satisfaction (target: 95%)

93%

93%

93%

 

Client service delivered to timeliness service standard (target: 90%)

97%

88%

90%

 

Number of complaints from clients

2

1

2

Two complaints were received by the Library in 2012–13. The first was about the lack of timeliness in handling a client enquiry. The second related to a failure to consult with a client before seeking information from a Government department.

Subprogram 1.1.2—Information access services

The services contributing to this subprogram include:

Table 4.4 shows the level of performance for information access services and table 4.5 illustrates the costs associated with providing information access services.

Table 4.4—Information access services—subprogram 1.1.2—deliverables

Deliverable

Measure

Performance

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

Material added to Library databases

Number of items added to the Library's Electronic Media Monitoring Service and to ParlInfo Search databases (target: 190,000)

191,430

185,600

181,578

Material added to Library collection

Number of new titles (books and serials) added to the Library's catalogue
(target: 4,000).

4,270

4,652

4,168

 

Percentage of titles (books and serials) in Library's collection available to clients online in full text (target: 34%).

31%

33%

34.3%

Use of the Library collection and databases

Use of the collections and databases, including loans from the collection, radio and television programs from the Electronic Media Monitoring Service, and from ParlInfo databases (target: 3,800,000 searches)

3.17m13

3.48m

3.29m

Table 4.5—Information access services—subprogram 1.1.2—price indicators

Deliverable

Measure

Performance

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

Cost of information access services

Average cost per item added to the Library's collection

$209

$298

$366

 

Average cost per item added to the Library's databases

$14.61

$20.32

$20.76

 

Average cost per use of the Library's databases and collection

$2.37

$2.32

$2.28

Total cost of subprogram14 1.1.2

$11.19m

$12.094m

$11.700m

Material added to Library databases

The target for the number of items added to the Library's Electronic Media Monitoring Service and to Library databases in ParlInfo was increased to 190,000 in 2012–13 from 140,000 the previous financial year. The new target was not reached as 181,578 items were added.

Material added to Library collection

The target number of new titles (books and serials) added to the Library's catalogue was 4,000 and this was slightly exceeded, with 4,168 items being added.

The percentage of titles available online (full text) increased from 33 per cent to 34 per cent.

Use of the Library's collection and databases

The target figure of 3.8 million uses of the Library's collection and databases was not met, with 3.29 million uses being reported, slightly below last year's figure.

Table 4.6 shows the level of satisfaction with information access services

Client satisfaction with information access services

Client satisfaction with the Library's service in the 43rd parliament is 93 per cent, up from 87 per cent in the previous survey. Of these, 80 per cent were 'extremely satisfied' or 'very satisfied' and around 98 per cent would recommend the Library's services to a colleague.

The targets for timeliness in adding new items to the Library's collections were not met. For the catalogue material, this is a direct result of the impact on a small team of unplanned and unavoidable staff absences combined with an uneven distribution of material received each month. For example, in May and June a greater volume of new material is received so it is difficult for the team to process the new items as quickly as a month where only a smaller number of items are received.

Table 4.6—Information access services—subprogram 1.1.2—key performance indicators

Key performance Indicator

Measure

Performance

2010–11

2011–12

2012–13

Client satisfaction with information access services

High level of client satisfaction (target: 95%)

93%

93%

93%

 

New titles (books and serials) added to the Library's catalogue within timeliness service standard (target: 85%).

70%

74%

72%

 

New items added to the Library's Electronic Media Monitoring Service and the ParlInfo newspaper clippings database within timeliness service standard (target: 95%)

88%

93%

95%

 

Number of complaints from clients

0

0

0

 

Parliamentary Library financial report

2011–12
Actuals ($)

2012–13
Actuals ($)

Income 

Appropriations

16,667,000

16,291,953*

Depreciation expense

600,000

480,000

Direct expenditure 

Total Salaries

13,333,813

12,916,281

Research Branch

8,335,951

7,899,918

Information Access Branch

4,575,867

4,373,693

Office of the Parliamentary Librarian
(2010–11 includes pre-election policy service)

421,995

642,670

Other employee expenses

296,020

22,154

Staff training, travel and related expenses

117,697

121,072

Hansard printing**

744,769

534,600

Collection (information resources)

1,761,393

2,046,608

Other expenses

242,974

114,247

Asset maintenance (software licences/maintenance)

83,852

67,221

Total cash expenditure (excluding expenditure from capital funding)

16,580,518

15,822,183

Collection (expenditure from capital funding)

503,450

374,738

Total expenditure (including expenditure from capital funding)

17,083,967

16,196,921

Summary

Office of the Parliamentary Librarian

480,845

967,558

Research Branch

8,708,808

8,052,283

Information Access Branch

7,894,314

7,177,080

Total (including expenditure from capital funding)

17,083,967

16,196,921

Parliamentary Library financial report (continued)

Staffing (full time equivalents)

2011–12

2012–13

Research Branch

73.97

69.58

Information Access Branch

54.09

48.57

Office of the Parliamentary Librarian

3.00

7.80

Total

131.07

125.95

Notes:
The figures in the expenditure section of this table are cash figures and represent the direct cash outgoing attributable to the Parliamentary Library; the Parliamentary Library Collection purchases are supplemented by capital funding.
* The amount of $16,356,360 set out in the 2012–13 Library Resource Agreement was reduced by $64,407 as the Library's per capita share of additional Government savings measures announced in the MYEFO.
** Hansard printing was managed by the Library but is not a 'Library' direct expense.


Footnotes

4. Parliamentary Service Act 1999 section 38B (1)

5. Parliamentary Service Act 1999 section 38B (2)

6. Parliamentary Service Act 1999 section 38G

7. Leapfrog Research, Evaluation of Parliamentary Library Services: Optimising Client Service Delivery, 2012.

8. Access to this service is restricted and is provided in accordance with sections 48A and 105A of the Copyright Act 1968. These sections of the Copyright Act contain exceptions to the rights of copyright owners for the exclusive benefit of parliamentary libraries when library staff respond to requests from serving parliamentarians.

9. This statistic has been reviewed and corrected to include all self-help including more recently developed services.

10. The upgrade of the Parliament House website in February 2012 has changed how data is collected for this statistic.

11. Due to the increased self-serve use of Library services, this statistic cannot be accurately measured.

12. 'Total cost of subprogram' includes indorect costs not listed in the table.

13. Issues with external user stats data has resulted in problems for the statistical reports in the use of web services for November 2010. Further problems occurred in March and April 2011.

14. 'Total cost of subprogram' includes indorect costs not listed in the table.




Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print
Back to top