Part 4

Parliamentary Library

Library Officers Parliamentary Library

Anne Zahalka (1957−)
Library Officers, Parliamentary Library (2014)
Parliament House Art Collection,
Department of Parliamentary Services





Parliamentary Librarian’s review

The history of the Australian Parliamentary Library is woven into the history of our national Parliament and our democracy. The Library was established in May 1901 during the very first session of the new Parliament. Indeed, the Barton Government’s choice of the Victorian parliamentary buildings as the home of the new Federal Parliament was reputedly influenced by Attorney-General Alfred Deakin’s strong attachment to the Parliamentary Library. The long-serving member for Maldon, Sir John McIntyre, went so far as to declare in the Victorian Legislative Assembly that it

was only the Library that induced the Federal Government to make an effort to get possession of the Parliament buildings in Spring Street…. [T]he Library was the great object of the desire of the Federal Government.1

In the early years, books and periodicals were the primary source of information for parliamentarians, and the Library’s services centred on the reading room and reference services. Since that time, the Library’s services have evolved and become more sophisticated to meet parliamentarians’ needs for quick access to authoritative and timely information, analysis and advice. Whereas once the Parliamentary Library’s challenge may have been to find scarce information, now it is to identify accurate and reliable material amid a vast sea of data, and to deliver advice which is synthesised, distilled and highly customised. Library researchers and information professionals work to ensure they are up to date on public policy issues and on industry offerings. It is their role to help turn information into knowledge by not only finding authoritative sources or new information services, but by analysing and evaluating these, and delivering them in a way that meets the diverse needs of Senators and Members and parliamentary committees.

Doing this successfully depends on a detailed understanding of our clients’ needs, of the business and processes of the Parliament, and of the broader political environment in which they operate. During the year we have worked hard to further develop this understanding, particularly in new staff, through training in client service, techniques for reference interviews, as well as various avenues for seeking client feedback.

Tailored information, analysis and advice

In 2013–14, through its expert and dedicated teams of information professionals, researchers and support staff, the Library continued to support the Parliament by providing high quality, timely, impartial and confidential information, analysis and advice. Pleasingly, the Library’s services were both well-used (by 100 per cent of Senators and Members in the 44th Parliament) and held in high regard, as evidenced by direct client feedback, as well as by the regularity with which Library advice was cited by Senators and Members in parliamentary debates and other speeches—and, indeed, in the case of its published information, by fact checking websites.

The Library’s research output comprises both general distribution publications and individualised and confidential client research. In 2013–14 the Library released some 350 research publications, including 97 Bills Digests. Coinciding with the commencement of the new Parliament, the Library refreshed its suite of research publications, implementing the recommendations of an internal review of research products conducted in the previous financial year. Work also commenced on the new edition of the Parliamentary Handbook.

In 2013–14, Library staff responded to 12,507 direct client requests, down from the 12,957 requests completed in 2012–13, and the 15,460 completed in 2011–12. This difference can in part be explained by the fact that 2013 was an election year. Typically, at this stage of the parliamentary cycle, the numbers of client requests and research publications (particularly Bills Digests) drop as the number of sitting days is reduced, House and Joint committees finalise inquiries, and Senators and Members turn their focus elsewhere.

1. J McIntyre, ‘Parliament Buildings, Spring Street’, Victoria, Legislative Assembly, Debates, 19 December 1901, p. 3748.

Changing balance of work and changing client expectations

The environment in which the Parliament works has changed immeasurably over the last decade, and will continue to do so. Client expectations and demands are shaped by the high volume of legislative work and committee activity, by the 24/7 media cycle, and by their own rapid adoption of technology. Clients expect immediate and easy access to tailored information products which they can use on their desktop in their office or on their mobile device in an airport lounge or in the back of a taxi. They expect the Library also to be flexible and innovative and to adapt to emerging technologies quickly.

The number of client requests responded to each financial year has declined significantly over the past 10 to 15 years. In 2000–01, for example, the Library responded to over 25,000 individual requests. One reason for the decrease is the amount of information now available online. This includes the ‘self-help’ information provided by the Library itself, in recognition of the need to make information resources easily accessible to those in electorate offices or travelling out of Canberra as well as to those in Parliament House. Thus, the Library has increased the percentage of its collection available in digital form from 15 per cent at the end of June 2006 (when we first started collecting data) to 36 per cent at the end of June 2014. And, in the reporting period, there were 4.66 million uses of Library online collections and databases, while the Parliamentary Library’s Electronic Resources Repository had over 446,000 page views.

The reduction in individual requests also reflects the Library’s diminishing capacity to respond to a high volume of requests due to changes in its staffing levels. At the same time, however, quantitative and anecdotal data suggest a shift in the type and complexity of work that parliamentarians ask of the Library. With clients increasingly able to find the answers to simple queries online, the queries received by the Library seem to be increasing in complexity, taking longer to compete and often requiring considerable work across disciplines and sections to answer. As their access to information has increased, so has the clients’ need for deeper analysis and advice. However, the urgency with which the Library’s advice is required has not diminished.

Welcoming new parliamentarians

The 2013–14 financial year saw four new Senators take their seats as a result of casual vacancies. The federal election on 7 September 2013 resulted in the return of 37 new members to the House of Representatives, some 25 per cent of total members. Fourteen new Senators were also elected, though only two of these took their seats in the reporting period.

Assisting new Senators and Members to settle into their parliamentary roles was therefore a major focus for the Library throughout 2013–14. The Parliamentary Librarian presented at the formal induction sessions conducted for new Senators and Members. The Library also assembled a new cohort of contact officers. A contact officer was assigned to each new parliamentarian to help guide them through the diverse range of Library products and services, and to demonstrate how the Library could add value by supporting them in their day-to-day work. Such personalised service is important to help forge relationships with new parliamentarians and their staff, and to enable Library staff to get a true understanding of their clients’ interests and needs. Thirty-six enthusiastic volunteers from across the Library undertook a program of targeted and intensive training to ensure they each were ready to respond with confidence to the many and varied questions they might receive. Dedicated orientation and training sessions were also provided to the parliamentarians’ new staff as the new parliamentarians’ offices were established.

Another highlight of the Library’s work in support of the 44th Parliament was the publication of the Briefing Book, a volume of short, strategic level snapshots of some of the big issues affecting Australia that were expected to figure in the early months of the new Parliament. Its purpose was two-fold: to provide Senators and Members with a high-level perspective of key public policy issues, and also to showcase the breadth of expertise of the Library’s specialist researchers.

Finally, to provide a more personalised service, Library staff developed information packages that were specifically tailored to the circumstances of each new and returning parliamentarian. Each pack contained individualised electorate profiles and maps (with state/regional maps for Senators), plus a sample of research publications on issues relevant to their constituencies or to their parliamentary interests.

Creating the Library of the 21st century

Technological changes have profound implications for the services that the Library provides to our clients. Providing information, analysis and advice on any given subject now requires an understanding of the effects of technology on that subject, but there is also the challenge of taking advantage of the enormous opportunities offered by sophisticated technological tools to provide better, more targeted and customised information and research. Both are covered by the concept of ‘creating the Library of the 21st century’, and both require sufficient expertise and budget to enable innovation.

One of the most immediate impacts of technological change is in the way information is consumed—the burgeoning of devices such as smart phones, tablets and e-book readers. This technology has obvious application and attraction for our clients, whose work takes them to every corner of the country and beyond. The Library’s focus on digital delivery of its services and products continued in 2013–14 with further improvements in the delivery of its news and media monitoring, which are among our most frequently and heavily used services. As a result of an approach to market in 2012–13, the Library was able to provide easy access to metropolitan and regional press via a media portal. This enabled Senators and Members to receive alerts and access news stories on any web-connected device, without having to use the secure parliamentary computing network. The Library also introduced a social media monitoring service to complement its monitoring of more traditional print and broadcast news and current affairs. This is important given the increasing role of social media in breaking news and in political and social debate.

Budget

As the Parliament intended, the Resource Agreement helps maintain the Parliamentary Library’s independence by providing annual budget surety. However, the Library is only one of several calls on the Department’s budget; and the Librarian and the Secretary each year must negotiate an equitable outcome that will enable the Library to fulfil its statutory role, while still enabling the provision of other core services to the Parliament.

In last year’s annual report, I noted the tight budgetary environment in which the Library operates as a result of the compounding impact of efficiency dividends and increased costs. Resource pressures continued to be felt strongly in 2013–14. The Library continued to downsize and plan in anticipation of the decreasing levels of appropriation across the Department of Parliamentary Services’ forward estimates, and the corresponding projected increase in the Department’s operating deficit. However, in fulfilling its statutory role of providing high quality information, analysis and advice to Senators and Members, the Library’s key assets are its people. Improvements in technology and training can enable access to a wider range of information more quickly. Making sense of that information and providing specialist services to clients is resource intensive and cannot be automated. Research and information services can only be provided by having sufficient skilled staff with subject-based knowledge and expertise. I am pleased to report, therefore, that the increase in the Department’s appropriation in the 2014–15 Budget has enabled the Librarian and the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) to reach agreement on a budget which will enable the Library to begin to address a number of capacity gaps and maintain its annual subscriptions for information resources and news services for Senators and Members.

Outlook

The immediate focus for 2014–15 has been to introduce the Library’s services to a new cohort of Senators to assist them to enter into their parliamentary roles. However, a key priority for the year ahead will be a program of outreach to longer serving Senators and Members and their staff to ensure that they too are aware of all of the Library’s current services.

We anticipate going to market in the second quarter of the financial year for the client evaluation of Library services for the 44th Parliament. The results of this evaluation will inform a strategic planning exercise which will take place in the last quarter of 2014–15.

Budgetary issues will continue to be closely managed. We will maintain a careful approach to the use of resources to continue to deliver services as efficiently as possible. The Library will continue to report regularly to the Presiding Officers and to the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library on these matters.

Conclusion

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

And, finally, I would like to thank 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. The Library’s strong performance over the year was achieved through their collective efforts, and it remains a great privilege to work with them.

Dr Dianne Heriot
Parliamentary Librarian


The Library on a page

Role

To provide high quality, impartial, timely and confidential information, analysis and advice to Senators and Members of the House of Representatives in support of their parliamentary and representational roles.

Clients

Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and their staff

  • parliamentary committees
  • the Governor-General
  • staff of parliamentary departments

Governance

  • Presiding Officers: jointly vested with responsibility for the administration of the Department of Parliamentary Services, including the Parliamentary Library
  • Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library: comprises Members of the House of Representatives and Senators, and provides advice to the President and Speaker on matters relating to the Library
  • Parliamentary Librarian: a statutory officer responsible for the control and management of the Library, reporting to the Presiding Officers and the Library Committee

Structure

  • Parliamentary Librarian
  • Office of the Parliamentary Librarian
  • Research Branch
  • Information Access Branch

Budget 2013–14 (Resource Agreement)

$15.923m operational; $0.766m capital.

Expenditure $14.583m operational; $0.672m capital.

Staffing 2013–14 118.16 FTE (average).

Services

  • a comprehensive Library collection for reference and loans
  • media monitoring—press, broadcast and social media
  • confidential and tailored research and analysis
  • maps of electorates and other geographic areas
  • assistance with parliamentary delegation briefings
  • a wide range of research publications to help inform parliamentary debate and scrutiny and policy development
  • 24/7 access to online databases and services
  • training
  • lectures and seminars

The Library in numbers: 2013–14

  • 12,507 individual client requests completed
  • 350 research publications released, including 97 Bills Digests
  • 641 clients attended training and seminars
  • 3,915 new books and serial titles added to the catalogue
  • 36 per cent of titles available online in full text
  • 158,556 items added to Library databases

Overview

Governance

The Parliamentary Library is part of the Department of Parliamentary Services Program 1. The Library’s services are established under the statutory office of the Parliamentary Librarian whose 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’.2

These services are to be delivered:

  • in a timely, impartial and confidential manner
  • maintaining the highest standards of scholarship and integrity
  • on the basis of equality of access for all Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, parliamentary committees and staff acting on behalf of Senators, Members or parliamentary committees
  • having regard to the independence of Parliament from the Executive Government of the Commonwealth.3

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

The Library’s primary clients are Senators and Members. Other client groups include parliamentarians’ staff, staff of the parliamentary departments and the Governor-General. Service entitlements for all clients are outlined in the Statement of Client Services which was approved by 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 that met jointly. In December 2005, the first Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library was established by resolution of both chambers to:

  • consider and report to the Presiding Officers on any matters relating to the Parliamentary Library referred to it by the President or the Speaker
  • provide advice to the President and the Speaker on matters relating to the Parliamentary Library
  • provide advice to the President and the Speaker on an annual Resource Agreement between the Parliamentary Librarian and the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services
  • receive advice and reports, including an annual report, directly from the Parliamentary Librarian on matters relating to the Parliamentary Library.

2. Parliamentary Service Act 1999 subsection 38B(1).
3. Parliamentary Service Act 1999 subsection 38B(2).

The Library Committee membership in 2013–14 was:

43rd Parliament (to 5 August 2013)

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 John Madigan
Senator Gavin Marshall
Mr Daryl Melham MP
Senator the Hon. Lisa Singh
Mr Craig Thomson MP

44th Parliament (from 2 December 2013)

Senator the Hon. Ronald Boswell (Joint Chair)
Ms Gai Brodtmann MP (Joint Chair)
Mr Russell Broadbent MP
The Hon. Michael Danby MP
Ms Jill Hall MP
Mr Steve Irons MP
Senator Zed Seselja
Mr Angus Taylor MP
Senator the Hon. Lin Thorp
Senator Mehmet Tillem
Senator John Williams
Mr Rick Wilson MP

The Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library for the 44th Parliament was established by resolution of the House of Representatives and Senate on 21 November and 2 December 2013 respectively.

The Committee met on 11 December 2013, 20 March 2014 and 19 June 2014.

At its December 2013 meeting the Committee elected Senator Ronald Boswell and Ms Gai Brodtmann as Joint Chairs.

At its meetings the Committee also discussed:

  • Library resourcing and the Resource Agreement between the Parliamentary Librarian and Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services for 2014–15
  • the implementation of the recommendations from the client evaluation of Library services for the 43rd Parliament
  • the upcoming client evaluation of Library services for the 44th Parliament
  • the Parliamentary Library Summer Scholars
  • additional duties for the Parliamentary Librarian: Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013
  • the review of research publications and the new suite of Library publications, and
  • news services for Senators and Members.

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 is: Dr Dianne Heriot, Parliamentary Librarian; Mr Jonathan Curtis, Assistant Secretary, Research Branch; and Ms Liz Luchetti, Assistant Secretary, Information Access Branch.

The Library’s structure comprises:

  • Office of the Parliamentary Librarian—a small unit comprising the Parliamentary Librarian, executive support officers, the Web Publishing Unit and the Director, Client Relations, who provides orientation and training services for Senators, Members, their staff and other parliamentary staff.
  • Research Branch—which provides information, research and analytical services including individually commissioned research, publications and statistical and mapping services.
  • Information Access Branch—which develops and manages access to the Library’s print and electronic resources. It also manages the main Library reference desk and the Senators’ and Members’ Reading Room.

Figure 6: Parliamentary Library Organisation Chart at 30 June 2014

Figure 6 

Summary of financial performance

Resource Agreement 2013–14

To help to ensure the independence of the Library, the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 provides that the Librarian and the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) will make an annual Resource Agreement detailing the funds available for the Library for the ensuing year.4 The Act provides that the Agreement must be: made between the Secretary and the Parliamentary Librarian; and approved by the Presiding Officers in writing after receiving advice about the contents of the Agreement from the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library.

The Agreement identifies the 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 in terms of services provided by the Library to the rest of DPS. The Agreement includes provision for a mid-term review of the Library’s budget by the Librarian and the Secretary of DPS to establish whether any variation is required.

The 2013–14 Agreement was developed in light of the DPS budget, the relationship between the Library and the rest of DPS in delivering services to clients and the Department of Parliamentary Services Enterprise Agreement 2011.

The Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library considered the Resource Agreement 2013–14 at its meeting of 20 June 2013. Notwithstanding its concerns about the increasing budget pressures being experienced by the Library, the Committee resolved that the Joint Chairs write to the Presiding Officers recommending the adoption of the Agreement.

The Presiding Officers approved the Resource Agreement 2013–14 on 3 July 2013.

Financial performance

Staffing costs account for the majority of the Library’s budget, with the remaining funding largely spent on the collection. Accordingly, the major pressures on the Library’s budget in 2013–14 were increases in costs for Library collection resources (of around 10 per cent since the last financial year) which decreased the Library’s purchasing power, and increasing salary costs (as per the DPS Enterprise Agreement).

The operating budget for the Library in 2013–14 was $15.923 million; the capital budget (used for the Library collection and minor capital projects) was $0.766 million. Actual expenditure was $14.583 million and $0.672 million respectively (including capitalised salaries). There are three main reasons for the under-expenditure.

The budget set out in the Resource Agreement was negotiated by the Secretary of DPS and the Librarian on the basis of an agreed staffing establishment for the Library for 2013–14. Soon after the Resource Agreement was approved by the Presiding Officers, the Librarian was advised by DPS finance that the formula for staffing on-costs across the department had been revised downward, resulting in an over allocation per staff member of some 6 per cent ($0.767 million). Given the statutory requirements of the Resource Agreement, this is routinely negotiated before the wider departmental budget is settled.

A further $0.381 million comprises capitalised salaries for collection related expenses arising from changes in the Department’s accounting treatment.

The third factor is the reduction in the Library’s staffing numbers.

In addition to the reduction in staff numbers of 7.6 positions noted in last year’s annual report, in 2012–13 the Library undertook work reviews and a minor restructure to enable it to manage within the resources available in the 2013–14 financial year. This process continued throughout 2013–14. Further reductions in the number/cost of ongoing staff were made by selectively not filling or reclassifying positions as they fell vacant. These decisions were made in anticipation of the further reduction in the Department of Parliamentary Services’ appropriations, and associated increases in its operating deficit, over the forward estimates. The Library Committee and the Presiding Officers were apprised of the financial pressures under which the Library and DPS more broadly were operating.

Endeavours to supplement staff numbers with non-ongoing and sessional staff were less successful than hoped due to the nature of the job market in the context of public sector down-sizing. However, the Library was able to supplement its resources by drawing upon the expertise of alumni, both through sessional employment and through the Parliamentary Library Associate Scheme.

Pleasingly, the increased appropriation for the Department in the 2014–15 Budget enabled the Secretary and Librarian to reach agreement on a budget for 2014–15. This will enable the Library to address a number of capacity gaps in Research Branch and maintain its annual subscriptions for information resources and news services for Senators and Members.

Recruitment will be a priority for the new financial year.

Figure 2: Parliamentary Library appropriation for expenditure on goods and services5

Figure 7 

(a) Expressed in June 2014 prices using the Consumer Price Index. Index numbers for June 2015 based on Treasury forecasts.
(b) This income figure reflects the Library’s budget bid, which if spent would have led to DPS making a loss in the reporting year.
(c) Does not include $500,000 for the Pre-Election Policy Unit.

5. Figures include Comcare premium

Achievements 2013–14

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.

Creating 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 chamber departments in their work to support Senators and Members. This means continually evaluating and reshaping the Library’s products and services so that they are accessible, effective and valued in an increasingly mobile and information-rich environment.

Responding to the evaluation of the Parliamentary Library’s services

The Library conducts a formal review of the needs of clients once in every Parliament to assist it to:

  • measure satisfaction levels with library and research services
  • gain insights into the use of services
  • determine the direction of future information and service delivery.

Various methodologies have been used to complete past reviews, but they generally include a survey of clients, face-to-face interviews, focus groups or a combination of these methods. Throughout the life of each Parliament, the Library also seeks ongoing input from the Library Committee, monitors and responds to feedback from clients, and invites Senators and Members to talk to Library 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.6

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 reporting period the Library completed its action plan to implement the report’s recommendations:

  1. Sustained and targeted promotion of Library services, particularly newer services such as ParlMap and FlagPost
  • Thirteen specialised training sessions were offered on several of the services and products available through the Library including ebook services, social media monitoring, iSentia’s Mediaportal and searching Proquest.
  • A new Library e-zine was developed to highlight services and publications in an online magazine style.
  • Contact officers were assigned to all new Senators and Members to provide a single point of contact for Library services.
  1. Developing online training and library orientations that can be accessed at the clients’ convenience
  • Plans for a more comprehensive suite of online training resources (including videos) were developed for new and existing services, with training for our social media monitoring and OverDrive services published this year. The Library Virtual Tour was updated prior to the new Parliament to incorporate changes to our publications and services. The Client Services Portal brings together all the training resources developed by the Library.
  1. Continuing to strive for a high and consistent quality of response from researchers
  • The governance papers dealing 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 is also continuing to develop and deliver ongoing training (both in-house and external) to: improve the processes for dealing with requests that require input from multiple researchers; provide guidance on the negotiation of scope and deadlines where required; and to improve standards for responses.
  • The Library has formed an Editors Group amongst staff that aims to promote the technical skills of editors, and provide a forum for specialised training and the exchange of ideas.
  1. Promotion of research publications and expertise
  • The recommendations of the review of research publications were implemented ensure that the products more effectively met clients’ needs (see below).
  1. Providing Library staff with additional training on the services offered to ensure they can confidently discuss the full range of Library services with clients
  • Training for Library staff on the services and products available to clients began last year with information sessions on ParlMap, statistical resources, EMMS, eBook services, FlagPost, Summon, online databases, ParlInfo tips and legal resources. Detailed training was provided to Library contact officers in preparation for the arrival of new parliamentarians at the commencement of the 44th Parliament.

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


What our clients said

‘One of the great privileges of being a federal MP is access to the parliamentary library. It is a national treasure.’

Former Senator Amanda Vanstone, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 October 2013, page 19.


  • The Library is also progressively conducting in-house training sessions on:
    • client service—how to better understand customer needs, including through interviewing and active listening skills (a successful client reference interview being critical to providing an efficient and effective service that meets client needs)
    • writing Bills Digests—considering key issues including financial, human rights, and constitutional matters
    • editing skills—to improve the quality control of publications
    • statutory interpretation
    • best practice legislative drafting—with a focus on understanding how legislative drafters approach legislative drafting, on regulatory impact assessment using and integrating info-graphics and statistics.

The Library’s progress in implementing the findings of the Evaluation of Parliamentary Library Services has been a standing item on the agenda at Library Committee meetings.

Summer Research Scholarship

The Library first offered Summer Research Scholarships in 2013 as part of a reinvigorated Australian Parliamentary Fellowship scheme.

The Scholarships are open to Honours and postgraduate students who wish to conduct research in an area of public policy that is directly relevant to the Australian Parliament. Scholarship recipients undertake a six-week placement in the Library during the summer academic break. They receive access to the Library’s collections and facilities, the opportunity to interact with expert librarians and researchers, mentoring for their research project, and a small honorarium.

Fifteen applications were received for the 2014 Summer Research Scholarship round. Following a merit-based selection process, the Parliamentary Librarian awarded scholarships to:

  • Ms Louise St Guillaume, a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Notre Dame
  • Ms Marija Taflaga, a PhD candidate in Political Science at the Australian National University.

Both scholars presented work-in-progress seminars during their placements. They have also submitted research papers which are currently being reviewed with a view to publication on the Library’s website later in the year.

The scholars drew upon interviews with current and former parliamentarians and their staff, whose generous support for the Scholarship program the Library greatly appreciates.

In addition to completing research projects, the scholars participated in a series of joint events with summer scholars from Canberra cultural institutions, including visits to the National Library of Australia, the National Archives of Australia, the Australian War Memorial and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

 Parliamentary Library Presiding Officers

The Presiding Officers welcome the 2014 summer scholars

The Presiding Officers again graciously hosted a reception for the summer scholars from all participating institutions in the President’s courtyard at Parliament House.

The Australian Parliamentary Fellowship was not offered in 2013–14 due to budgetary constraints.

Knowledge transfer to Parliament

Parliamentarians have access to a myriad of 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/synthesising the data; and presenting information and analysis that is timely, comprehensive and comprehensible.

Individual client requests

The Library’s primary clients are able to commission individualised research from the Library and to receive tailored and confidential responses by an agreed deadline. Answers may be provided in writing, as a verbal briefing, or in customised 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 which they encounter each day.

In 2013–14, Library staff responded to 12,507 such requests, providing confidential briefing papers on complex policy issues, face to face briefings, statistics and other research for chamber debates and speeches, and analysis and information in support of committee inquiries.

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

Almost all Senators and Members used our services across the reporting period (97.4 per cent) to a greater or lesser extent—even ministers, notwithstanding the access they enjoy to the resources of the public service. For Senators and Members serving in the 44th Parliament, the figure was 100 per cent.

Figure 8: A ‘Wordle’ representing issues raised by Library clients during 2013–14

Wordle image Parliamentary Library 


Table 22: Client requests completed in 2013–14

Client requests completed in 2013–14

Members of the House of Representatives

7,198

Senators

2,936

Parliamentary Committees

182

Parliamentary Departments, reciprocal arrangements and other

2,191

Total

12,507


Changing patterns of client demand

Library data indicate that between 2000–01 and 2013–14 there was an overall decline in the number of client requests of 33 per cent per Full Time Equivalent staff (FTE). But, while year to year outcomes vary, over that same period there was also an increase in the average amount of time spent on individual requests. For example, in 2000–01 the average client request took staff 1.6 hours to complete. In 2003-04 the figure was 2.2 hours, in 2007–08 it was 2.4 hours, in 2010–11 it was 2.5 hours and in 2013–14, 2.7 hours. Between 2000–01 and 2013–14 the average time spent on a client request per FTE increased by 68 per cent.

Factors underlying this change include changes in the workforce profile and expertise. However, it seems also to point to a change in the balance of the research queries the Library receives. This is supported by more anecdotal data from Library staff. As clients are increasingly able to find the answers to simple or more straightforward questions themselves, through online ‘self-service’, a greater proportion of client requests are at the more difficult or complex end of the continuum. Such queries take longer to compete and routinely require considerable work across disciplines and sections to answer.

Figure 9: Client requests—relative indicators

Figure 9 Client Requests 

(a) In 2001–02 Client Requests and Publications (jobs and hours) were not reported on separately. Information was calculated from the distribution of hours chart in the 2002–03 Annual Report.

(b) In 2002–03 Client Requests and Publications (jobs and hours) were not reported on separately. Information was calculated using the variation percentage in the 2003–04 Annual Report.

Research publications

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 parliamentarians. The publications range from short, topical blog posts to general research papers on topics judged to be of relevance and interest to clients, to Bills Digests which provide Senators and Members with an impartial and independent explanation and commentary on Bills as they come before the Parliament.

The Library issued 350 research publications in 2013–14 including 97 Bills Digests.

Although produced for the Library’s clients, these publications have a broader public benefit as they are published on the web and are therefore accessible to everyone.

Library publications are recognised by our clients and the community to be of high value. Parliamentary Library publications ranked first and fourth in Australian Policy Online’s list of most popular research publications in 2013 (rankings based on the number of page visits). They were, respectively:

  • Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts?, Janet Phillips, February 2013 (also ranked first in the top 10 social policy research publications and fourth in the list of most popular research publications from all years)
  • Boat arrivals in Australia since 1975: July 2013 update, Janet Phillips and Harriet Spinks, July 2013 (also ranked fourth in the top 10 social policy research publications).

Other Library publications rated highly in specific policy lists:

  • Expertise and public policy: a conceptual guide, Matthew Thomas and Luke Buckmaster, October 2013—ranked first in the top 10 education research publications and third in the top 10 politics research publications for 2013
  • Australian Government funding for schools explained, Marilyn Harrington, March 2013—ranked eighth in the top 10 politics research publications and ninth in the top 10 education research publications for 2013
  • Destination anywhere? Factors affecting asylum seekers’ choice of destination country, Harriet Spinks, February 2013—ranked fifth in the top 10 international research publications for 2013.

Support for the new Parliament: Parliamentary Library Briefing Book

To help support Senators and Members in their work, the Library produced a volume of short, strategic level snapshots of some of the big issues affecting Australia which were expected to figure in the early months of the new Parliament.

The 69 articles were written to provide Senators and Members with a high level perspective of key public policy issues, to give relevant background, context and legislative history, and to discuss possible new policy and legislative directions. The Briefing Book also showcased Library capabilities and research expertise across a broad range of topics, particularly to new parliamentarians and their staffers.

The volume was organised in themes, beginning with a chapter showing aspects of contemporary Australia. Subsequent chapters showed how Australia is faring in its economy, its public finances, and in the welfare, health and rights of our citizens. It concluded with a chapter examining Australia’s relationship with the wider world, our allies and our trading partners. The Briefing Book was well received by clients, and a second print run was required to meet demand.

Support for the new Parliament: work with new Senators and Members

The 2013–14 financial year saw four new Senators take their seats as a result of casual vacancies. The 2013 federal election saw 37 new Members elected to the House of Representatives, the highest new intake since 2007. There were 14 new Senators, equalling the previous highest intake at the 2007 election, though of course the majority would not take their seats until July.

New parliamentarians face enormous challenges in their early months of office. They have not only to master parliamentary processes and the myriad of requirements of their new role, and to adjust to the pace and range of issues dealt with in chamber and committee, but also to set up new offices, and navigate their way around a new environment and the various services available to assist them.

Recognising the importance of face to face contact, each new Senator and Member was assigned a contact officer from within the Library. Contact officers act as first point of contact for new Senators, Members and their staff in the early weeks/months of their time in the Parliament, assisting them to access the many information resources the Library offers, and helping direct their research enquiries to the appropriate staff.

The Contact Officer Program has been running for over 15 years and feedback from clients indicates that it is one of our most popular and highly valued services.

Thirty-six staff from across the Library took part in the 2013–14 Contact Officer Program. Prior to the commencement of the new Parliament, contact officers underwent intensive training to refresh their knowledge of the full range of Library services and to provide peer support and training in information seeking.

To provide both new and returning parliamentarians a quick introduction to the range of services the Library offers, each was given a customised package of information which included: maps and statistics relating to their electorate or state; an example of a Bills Digest and Research Paper which was relevant to their region or individual interests; a copy of the Briefing Book; and a guide to Library services.


What our clients said

Senator MOORE: … I just wanted to put on record today my appreciation of the service of Janet Wilson. Over many years she has worked in this building and provided support through her library services, and particularly in the area of maintaining that valuable gender table, which I trust she has handed on for someone to pick up that role … I just wanted to put on note my appreciation for the service Janet has provided as a valuable part of your library …

Senator FAULKNER: Can I associate myself with those remarks and say that Janet has given very, very meritorious, professional and long service in the Parliamentary Library to many of us from all sides of the Australian Parliament. It has been exemplary service and, I think, worthy of being acknowledged in this committee.

Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, Estimates,
18 November 2013, page 62.


In addition, the Librarian presented an introduction to services to new Senators and Members as part of the induction programs coordinated by each Chamber.

The success of these initiatives may be partially gauged by the fact that by 30 June 2014, the Library had received over 1,250 client requests from first-time Senators and Members.

Parliamentary Handbook

Work also commenced on preparation of the Parliamentary Handbook for the 44th Parliament.

The Handbook was originally developed following a request by the then Library Committee in a report to the Parliament in 1915 for:

a Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook, giving a short political biography of all Members of both Houses since the initiation of Federation, with portraits in most cases, particulars of every election in the same period, with other information likely to be useful.7

The first edition of the Handbook, published later that year as the Biographical Handbook and Record of Elections for the Parliament of the Commonwealth, covered the period of the first six elections and parliaments from March 1901 to September 1914. Since then a new edition has usually been published with each new Parliament and it has developed into a comprehensive reference work on many aspects of the Commonwealth Parliament, including summaries of the parliamentary service and political careers of Senators and Members, together with statistics and historical information on the Australian Parliament.

Since 1999, the full text of the Handbook has been available electronically, and updated regularly, on the Parliament’s website and through ParlInfo. Online access enables the Australian community to obtain information on their local Senators and Members and the work of the Parliament.

The Handbook for the 44th Parliament will be published in hardcopy in 2014–15.

7. Australia, Parliament, Report from the Joint Library Committee, 1915, p. 2.

Publications review

One of the priorities in the Library’s 2012–13 Business Plan was to review its publications suite to determine how it might be changed or better targeted to offer greater benefit to our clients. 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 they are to find and use. It included a focus on identifying strategies to: promote cross-disciplinary approaches; increase the use of info-graphics; and fine-tune timeliness and relevance.

At its meeting in June, the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library accepted the conclusions and recommendations arising from the review. The launch of the new suite of publications was timed to coincide with the commencement of the 44th Parliament. It comprises:

  • Quick Guide—a new type of short summary product designed to provide an easy-to-read quick reference to key information with links to more detailed material
  • Research Paper—a detailed reference and analysis product which consolidated the existing Background Paper and Research Paper series
  • a new type of short Statistical Publication (short graphics-based statistical publications related to current issues of interest, focusing on combining data sets in innovative ways to illustrate key points)
  • a new digital Library magazine designed to showcase Library specialist capabilities and products (a response to the recommendations of the Library Review to take measures to raise clients’ awareness of the full range of Library services)
  • minor revisions to the Chronology and What’s New publications.

These new publications are complemented by new template designs that use different mast colours to differentiate the products.

The new Library e-zine made its debut in mid-December. Off the Shelf brings together a series of original short articles across the spectrum of public policy issues which aim to address issues from perspectives that have not been covered in the general media.

The Library is now focusing on implementing other elements arising from the review, particularly in relation to refining the focus of publications and achieving ongoing improvements to quality.

A Publications Planning Group has been established to guide this process, comprising the Parliamentary Librarian, the Assistant Secretary Research Branch, and the heads of research sections. An Editors Group has also been established to promote the technical skills of our team of in-house editors, and provide a forum for specialised training and the exchange of ideas. This reflects the critical role that editors play in producing high quality, well-structured and readable products.

To the extent possible, over the next financial year, the Library will also explore the commissioning of papers from external experts to enhance the resources available for clients.

Budget Seminar and Budget Reviews

The annual Federal Budget is perhaps the Australian Government’s most important political, economic and social document. The 2014–15 Budget was a critical document for establishing the policy directions and financial management initiatives of the newly elected Abbott Government. Accordingly, providing information on the Budget and the budget process is one of the Library’s highest priorities each year.

This year’s Library seminar, Understanding the Budget, was again highly successful, with 126 pass-holders attending and latecomers finding only standing room remaining. Staff of the Economics Section spoke about the global financial outlook, the state of the Australian economy and the fiscal outlook, and issues which will affect the economy in the longer term, including the link between income inequality and social mobility and economic growth. The session also included information on budget strategy and outlook, and how to find information in the Portfolio Budget Statements. The Library produced a short tip sheet on the Commonwealth Budget papers to assist clients who were not able to attend the seminar.


The Library is custodian of an important but little-known piece of parliamentary history and tradition.

One of the prized items in the Library’s collection is a Bible presented to the Federal Parliament in September 1919 by His Excellency the Governor-General the Rt Hon. Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson, GCMG.

The Bible was a gift of the British and Foreign Bible Society Victoria, as a memento of the signing of the peace ‘on the termination of the World Wide War of 1914–1919’.

What makes the Bible a particular treasure is that it contains the signatures of all the Presidents and Speakers of the Parliament of Australia.

Bible Signing Speaker 

The current Speaker, the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop, signed the Bible in February 2014.


The Parliamentary Library also produced its annual Budget Review to assist parliamentarians consider the key issues posed by the 2014–15 Budget. The review included a macroeconomic analysis and a summary of the headline numbers, the economic context, the Government’s fiscal strategy and broader policy agenda, and analysis of how the fiscal outlook has changed since the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. The Budget briefs section provided background information and analysis of the key measures proposed in this year’s Budget and covered a wide range of areas across all portfolios.

As with previous Budget Reviews, this year’s Review was prepared under time pressures with a view to making it available to parliamentarians as soon as possible, to help inform debates on the Budget Bills in the House of Representatives and discussions in the Senate’s Budget Estimates committee hearings.


What our clients said

I also thank the staff of the Department of Parliamentary Services. I have become much more re-acquainted with the Parliamentary Library now we are on this side. What a wonderful resource it is.’

Senator the Hon. Penny Wong,
Senate, Debates, 12 December 2013, page 1721.


Connect clients with information

Growth of online resources

Parliamentarians require ready access to accurate and up-to-date information. Resources need to be as easily accessible to those in electorate offices or travelling as to those working in Parliament House. Because electronic material can be made available to clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Library’s focus is on collecting material in digital format and, more recently, providing this in ways that are device-neutral.

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 34 per cent at the end of June 2013 to 36 per cent at the end of June 2014. Within the serials collection alone, the number of titles available in electronic form increased to 86 per cent with some 23 per cent of monographs being available in full text. Use of these electronic collections is highest when Parliament is sitting. This has been a consistent trend over several years.

The use of the digital collections continues to grow with a steady trend upwards during 2013–14. Use of the print collection was higher than it had been in the previous three years.

The use of the Parliamentary Library’s Electronic Resources Repository (ERR) was high during 2013–14, with a total of 446,847 page views. Usage varied quite markedly month to month. The resources contained within the repository were published online and archived into the ERR by Library staff.

Figure 10: Use of the print collection

 Figure 10 Print Collection

Proactive management of the Library collection

The Library maintains a modest and carefully curated collection to meet the contemporary needs of the Parliament—such selectivity being enabled by the Parliament’s ready access to the National Library of Australia’s extensive holdings.

The Library aims to keep the collection at around 125,000 monograph titles. It has around 31,615 individual print and electronic journal titles, including those contained in the large aggregated subscription services. New material is acquired; outdated, damaged or redundant material is discarded regularly. Materials on Australian politics, legislation and constitutional matters are retained permanently.

The major part of the Library’s collection expenditure is therefore on current (and digital) sources of information: journals, reference materials and, particularly, news services. Seventy per cent of items added to the catalogue in 2013–14 were electronic resources; and each year there is a slight drop in monographs requested for purchase.

During 2013–14, the Library spent $1,659,997 on information resources; of this $520,064 was allocated to news services.In addition, capital funding of $492,255 was spent to replace depreciating items in the collection, such as monographs and reference books. Approximately 65 per cent of the collection budget was spent on electronic resources.

The Library’s budget for information resources is intensively managed throughout the year to ensure that the collection remains relevant and focused and that Parliament gets the best value from the resources available. Library staff review usage of online databases, and consult with clients and research staff to help ascertain collection priorities and to avoid duplication. Given budgetary constraints, generally an existing resource (particularly subscriptions to online services and databases) will need to be cancelled or reduced prior to a new resource being procured.

The Library has, in recent years, increased the range of digital resources so that Senators and Members have access to this information regardless of time or location. This has meant reducing expenditure on print materials, especially news media, which continue to be preferred by some clients.

Procurement

Procurement is a part of the day to day work of the Information Access Branch, with strong systems in place to ensure Library acquisitions are managed in accordance with Commonwealth Procurement Rules and DPS’ own internal financial processes. Specialist advice on procurement is provided by DPS’ Corporate Services Branch. However, as part of their commitment to ongoing professional development and excellence in service, in 2013–14, several Library staff completed their Certificate IV in Government (Procurement and Contracting). This expertise will help ensure the Library’s processes meet the requirements of the new Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act when it comes into effect on 1 July 2014.


Library Staff Group Photo 


Library staff were amongst the cohort of DPS employees to obtain their Certificate IV in Government (Procurement and Contracting).

The Library established two standing offer panels via request for tender (RFT) during 2013–14: one for online legal resources and the other for general online resources. Contracts were subsequently let with a range of vendors including Lexis Nexis, CCH Online and Thomson Reuters. In addition, the Library continued to utilise a panel established by the Department of Defence for print serials. These panels and the continuity of contracts established as part of the 2012–13 news services tender have ensured the Library obtains value for money on all collection procurements.

Digitisation

Digitisation of material in the Library’s collection, both contemporary and historic collections, remains a priority.

The Library has significant archives of paper and pre-digital audio-visual material that constitute a unique collection relating to Australia’s political and public policy history dating from the 1940s and 1950s. The bulk of this material dates from 1969 when the Library established a Current Information Section to provide Senators and Members with ready access to current material on practically every matter of interest to the Parliament. Clippings from Australian and overseas newspapers and journals, press releases, bibliographies, parliamentary speeches and questions formed comprehensive subject files. Separate files were produced for each Senator and Member with their speeches and questions indexed chronologically, as well as a separate series of files for each ministry. New files were commenced each year so that ‘in one or two minutes’ staff could ‘provide a file on the wood-chip industry, all the questions asked in the last three years on the export of merino rams, or a speech by an individual Member in 1969 on international affairs’.8 By the time this service was replaced by digital clipping and indexing systems in 1999, the Library had amassed some 2,100 linear metres of subject and Member files—a unique national resource which is still used by clients and Library staff.

In 1975, the Library also began to monitor, record and transcribe radio and television news and current affairs programs. The Library’s collection of pre-2004 audio-cassette tapes and audio-visual tapes amounts to 55,000 hours of video footage and 38,000 hours of audio recordings. In many cases these are unique holdings as the television stations that originally produced them no longer archive them.

This material is gradually being digitised for preservation purposes as resources permit, recognising that expenditure on conservation needs to be balanced against more immediate priorities. Factors taken into consideration when identifying materials for digitisation include:

  • current demand—how often are clients and Library staff requesting the material in its pre-digital format?
  • potential use—if the content were more easily accessible would use increase?
  • preservation/useability—is the content fragile or likely to be unusable in the foreseeable future?
  • 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?
  • storage
  • staff skills.

The Library added the following material to its electronic collections in 2013–14, using in-house resources:

  • Bills Digests collection—the digitisation of this historic collection began in 2011–12 and was completed in 2013–14. During this period 3,395 digests covering the period 1976 to 1995 were digitised
  • a small collection of resources relating to the foundation of the federal capital and the construction of the two Parliament Houses. The collection includes monographs, maps, design documentation, speeches and committee reports. The collection also includes ephemera related to the celebrations of Federation and the opening of the first Commonwealth Parliament in Melbourne in 1901. The collection is available publically for viewing in ParlInfo and on the APH website. (This project had commenced in 2012–13.)

Also, in 2013–14, outside contractors were engaged to digitise:

  • the Historic Press Release Collection covering the late 1950s to the 1990s
  • Prime Ministers’ information files containing newspaper clippings and journal articles from Sir Robert Menzies to John Howard.

The Library spent $126,000 on digitising these collections during 2013–14 (capital funds).

8. Parliament of Australia, Department of the Parliamentary Library: a descriptive account, Canberra, 1971, p. 6.

Support the Parliament’s engagement with the community and democracy

World War I centenary

This year, 2014, marks the centenary of the start of World War I. As its contribution to the commemorations, the Parliamentary Library is developing a program of publications and lectures which will appear over the next four years under the title ‘“A deadly and often doubtful struggle”: Parliament, War and Empire’.

The program commenced with a lecture on 19 March 2014 by Professor Joan Beaumont titled ‘Going to war, 1914: the view from the Australian Parliament’.

WW1 Soldiers Banner 

What our clients said

Ms Brodtmann: I rise today to pay tribute to someone who has been of great assistance to us all, although we might not have realised it: Parliamentary Library staff member Martin Lumb, who last week retired from the Library after more than 30 years of service ... Under Martin's watch, the Handbook evolved from a hard-copy point-of-time publication to an electronically available resource that is revised on an ongoing basis. The Handbook remains one of the primary sources of detailed information about the federal parliament today ...

The editor's position requires meticulous attention to detail and an extensive knowledge of parliament, current and former MPs and political and parliamentary facts and figures. For nearly 30 years Martin managed to juggle the constant demands of updating the Handbook over the life of each parliament, while answering a large number of client requests and producing other publications. On behalf of all members, I thank Martin Lumb for his outstanding service and wish him all the very best for his retirement.

The Deputy Speaker: (Hon. BC Scott): I thank the member for Canberra for that and would like to associate myself with her remarks about the wonderful work of Martin Lumb. I met him only recently. He has done some wonderful work. We are all very grateful for the dedication of the people in the Library. We wish him well in his retirement.

House of Representatives, Debates,
26 March 2014, pages 3201–3202.


A second lecture on 28 May by Gary Oakley from the Australian War Memorial, titled ‘Aboriginal soldiers in the First World War—a secret history’ was held in Reconciliation Week. Publications and recordings of the lectures are available on the APH website.

Launch of the latest volume of the Historical Records of Australia

In March the Presiding Officers launched the latest volume in the resumed Historical Records of Australia series. These publications compile the official correspondence of the governments of the Australian colonies, including dispatches between the Governors and the Colonial Secretaries in London, as well as letters and submissions within the colonies, providing important primary source information for historians studying Australian nineteenth century history. The volume launched this year contains despatches and papers relating to the colonial administration of Tasmania.

The original series was initiated by the parliamentary committee responsible for the Australian Parliamentary Library, which at that time combined the functions of both the present Parliamentary Library and the National Library of Australia. The committee recognised the need for a complete source of primary documents documenting the early years of Australia’s history, given that the original records were in many cases held in London and therefore inaccessible to Australian researchers. The first series, edited by James Watson and overseen by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Librarian, Arthur Wadsworth, was produced between 1914 and 1925. The publication then went into hiatus until 1997 when it recommenced under the general editorship of Peter Chapman (University of Tasmania).

Historical Records Launch Chapman and Bishop 

Peter Chapman, General Editor, and Timothy Jetson, Assistant Editor, with the Speaker and the President at the launch.

Engagement with other parliamentary libraries in Australia and beyond

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

In July 2013, the Library’s Client Service Director, Joanne James, took part in an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) mission to support the Parliamentary Library, Research and Information Service of Myanmar. Liz Luchetti, then Director of Collection Development, had been involved in the initial scoping mission, also sponsored by the IPU, in 2012–13.

In 2013–14, the Parliamentary Library also participated in the Pacific Parliamentary Scholarships Scheme, which is part of the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships initiative funded under the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Initiative (2012–22).
The Scholarships are offered to staff of Pacific parliaments interested in developing their research skills, and working with women parliamentarians on a gender equality issue of relevance in their country. In August the Library hosted a month-long placement for a committee clerk from the Parliament of Tonga, Sulia Makasini, who worked with staff in the Politics and Public Administration section to complete her research paper on temporary special measures to address women’s under-representation in the Tongan Parliament. Ms Makasini was interviewed about her project by Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat (http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacific/radio/program/pacific-beat/gender-quota-need-to-boost-tongas-womens-representation/1182905) and Radio New Zealand’s Dateline Pacific (http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/2568856/call-for-tonga-to-bring-in-quota-for-women-mp%27s).

The Library anticipates hosting further Pacific Parliamentary scholars in 2014–15.

Also, in August 2013, the Parliamentary Librarian participated in the General Assembly and Annual Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and its Library and Research Services for Parliaments Section pre-conference in Singapore. (IFLA is the leading international body for library and information services and its Library and Research Services for Parliaments Section brings together specialist legislative information services from around the world). In addition to the IFLA events, the Librarian helped deliver a training day for legislative libraries and research services from the Asia-Pacific region. She was co-opted to the Standing Committee administering the Library and Research Services for Parliaments Section of IFLA. This will help ensure that IFLA activities remain relevant to parliamentary libraries in Australia and in the broader region.

What our clients said

‘The staff of the Parliamentary Library, the smartest people in the place, are always the best ones to get on your table if you are at a trivia night. I thank them for the work they do.’

The Hon. Tanya Plibersek, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 December 2013, page 2663.


The Parliamentary Librarian was also elected President of the Association of Parliamentary Librarians of Asia and the Pacific (APLAP) at the Association’s business meeting held in conjunction with the IFLA events. In support of this role, the Library has worked with APLAP’s Executive to build an APLAP website. The site brings together for the first time all of the Association’s resources and papers in one place. It is also designed to serve as a communication hub for parliamentary libraries across the Asia-Pacific region. It is due for launch in August 2014.

The Library continues to be an active member of the Australian Government Libraries Information Network (AGLIN) which represents and supports the interests of its members in the delivery of information services to Australian Government organisations. Guy Woods, Director Database Services, served on the AGLIN Executive during 2013–14.

The Library also remains active in the Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Australasia (APLA), a collaborative network of federal and state parliamentary libraries in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The Library harnessed the skills and experience gained in building the APLAP website to redevelop APLA’s website, making it more streamlined and easier to use. Jonathan Curtis, Assistant Secretary Research Branch, and Leo Terpstra, Director Central Enquiry Point, presented at APLA’s annual conference in Sydney in October 2013; and in March 2014 the library hosted a visit from an officer from the Tasmanian Parliamentary Library.

During the year, Library staff presented to parliamentary delegations from India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Palau, the Republic of Korea, and Zimbabwe.

Recognising the importance of supporting the development of professional skills in the library community, the Library once again hosted a group of 30 library students from Charles Sturt University.

Parliamentary Library intern programs

The Library struck agreements with the Australian National University and the University of Canberra law schools to participate in their student intern programs. This will provide placements in the Research Branch for final year or Masters level law students to conduct a research project of relevance to our parliamentary work.

For the students, in addition to course credits, the program will provide experience of the workings of the Parliament. We anticipate that the Library will benefit from the additional research capacity and (providing quality standards are met) be able to publish the work of the researchers as Library publications. The first placements are expected to commence in late August.

The Library also initiated an internship scheme to engage with future library professionals and foster relationships between the Parliamentary Library and relevant Australian tertiary institutions. The four-week work experience placement will offer library students an opportunity to develop their skills in a well-regarded Library with highly professional and experienced staff. In turn, the Library will benefit from an increase in work capacity and the next-generation skills brought by the students.

The scheme has been welcomed by universities around Australia, with 22 applications received by the closing date. The first interns will take up their positions in July 2014.

Use technology to support better services

News services

The Parliamentary Library provides a range of news services to help parliamentarians and other clients keep abreast of current issues. With a number of contracts ending in 2013–14, the Library went to market with a request for tender in February 2013.

As a result of this process the Library entered into new contracts for the following electronic news services:

  • daily news clips from 13 major national and metropolitan newspapers for inclusion in the Library’s archival newspaper clippings database in the Parliament’s information retrieval system ParlInfo (iSentia)
  • a media portal providing access to a 90 day archive of national, metropolitan and regional newspapers, national television and radio news, online breaking news from the free content provided by news media organisations, and press releases (iSentia)
  • a breaking news service covering online news services and radio and television news services (iSentia)
  • a social media monitoring service covering such services as Twitter, Facebook (public sites), blogs, and online news services (AAP).

These resources allow the Library to provide news and media monitoring services across a range of sources via both mobile and networked devices.

In particular, via the media portal, Senators, Members and their staff can now access news and media alerts on the go using their mobile devices. A further service stream, providing access to regional broadcast news media, will be available early in the new financial year.

The social media monitoring service takes the Library’s services into what is becoming an increasingly important and influential area of news and social commentary. The service is being trialled for 18 months to determine client usage and to enable the Library to monitor new market offerings.

The Library also introduced a new daily service—Leading News. This service provides a brief list, with links to articles, of the stories leading the news in the morning bulletins. It aims to be out by 9.00 am each weekday and is produced by the Indexing section.

The news clippings provide content to one of the most heavily used ParlInfo databases (3.6 million hits in 2013–14).

Contracts were executed progressively throughout 2013, accompanied by an intensive phase of technical testing to ensure the new services were deployed as seamlessly as possible. Finalisation of arrangements for the provision of daily news clips was affected by iSentia’s buyout of AAP’s media monitoring business mid-way through the process. However, the Library worked closely with both organisations to ensure that there was no interruption to services for clients.

Deployment of the new breaking news service did not proceed as smoothly as anticipated, leading to a fall in service quality and a small number of client complaints (four in total). To improve the quality of the service, Library staff worked with ICT colleagues and the vendor to develop a new streaming news service using the iSentia feed. The new breaking news stream is now very popular with Library clients with 564,412 page views between 14 October 2013 (when the stream went live) and 30 June 2014.

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 regardless of their location. 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, followed by EBL, one of the world’s leading e-Book aggregators for academic publishers, in August that year. The Collection Management Section undertook a post implementation review of the e-Book program in April 2014. While noting that the e-Book marketplace had changed significantly in the previous two years, the review recommended that the Library continue with its current e-Book services and opt to procure e-Book material in preference to hardcopy titles where possible. Since the review, the Library has procured the Brill 2013 Human Rights and Humanitarian Law e-Book Collection and a selection of e-Books from EBSCOHost.

As further industry changes are expected in the near future, the Library will actively monitor the e-Book marketplace to take advantage of developments, especially in improvements to the usability of e-Book services.

Better management of metadata

Resource Description and Access (RDA) is a new standard for cataloguing that provides instructions and guidelines on the creation of metadata which meets users' needs for data content and also facilitates machine manipulation of that data for searching and display. Intended for use by libraries and other cultural organisations such as museums and archives, RDA is the successor to the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules which libraries have been using since 1967. During 2013–14, the Parliamentary Library successfully implemented RDA. Library staff and clients can now benefit from this significant improvement in the management of metadata through the Library catalogue and Summon. The wider community will also benefit as the Parliamentary Library contributes catalogue records to Libraries Australia as consistency across library catalogues is extremely important.

Review of subject indexing

The Library’s subject indexed databases provide a well-used and popular service to Parliamentary Library clients. However, despite the introduction of an automated selection and indexing system three years ago the indexing process remains a very labour intensive activity. During 2013–14 a review of subject indexing was conducted that focused on improving the automated selection and subject indexing of newspaper clippings by the Library Authoring System and Thesaurus (LAST). The recommendations that derived from the review aimed to improve the way the existing technology was configured and to streamline the work practices of the indexing team to ensure the section moved forward in a cost effective and efficient manner.

Since the recommendations of the review were adopted there has been a significant improvement in the indexing team’s productivity. The average newspaper indexing clippings rate has gone from 17 to 25 clips per hour—a 47 per cent improvement. As a result, the overall amount of staff time spent processing and checking the newspaper clippings database for content has fallen by 31 per cent.

FlagPost

The Parliamentary Library first introduced its blog, FlagPost, in 2010–11. Over time it had become apparent that the free blogging application that was being used was no longer sufficient for the Library’s needs; and in 2013 a project was initiated to identify a program that offered greater functionality and potential for customisation, and that also enabled the blog to be hosted internally. This process was completed in January 2014, when the Department’s Web Development team worked with Library staff to migrate the Parliamentary FlagPost from the external site, Blogger, to the internal content management system, Sitecore. It had been determined that Sitecore would provide a more stable and controlled environment for the blog than other possible solutions.

The Library's Client Relations and Publishing team initially provided group training to Library researchers and Directors to introduce them to the new blogging process, created an on line instructional video with associated notes, and have since continued to provide individual support as required. Fifty-seven posts have been added to the blog since the migration to Sitecore.

Human resources

Since 30 June 2013, the Library workforce has:

  • decreased in headcount from 141 employees to 132 employees and in FTE from 128.33 to 118.2
  • stabilised its permanent workforce at 90 per cent of total staff positions
  • increased its average age from 46 years to 47 years.

At 30 June 2014, the Library had a head count of 132 employees (FTE 118.2):

  • Office of the Parliamentary Librarian—10
  • Information Access Branch—44
  • Research Branch—78.

Separations

Thirty staff left the Library in 2013–14, a separation rate of 22 per cent. Of the 30 staff, 13 were ongoing employees (43.3 per cent); and the rest were non-ongoing staff, including those engaged on a casual basis to cover peak periods of client demand.

The reasons for separation during 2013–14 were:

  • end of contract (13 staff)
  • resignation (7 staff—4 ongoing and 3 non-ongoing staff)
  • age retirement (3 staff)
  • permanent transfer (2 staff)
  • voluntary retirement (2 staff)
  • end of temporary transfer, invalidity retirement and involuntary retirement (1 staff member in each category).

The 2013–14 separation rate for ongoing Library staff was 10.6 per cent, a slight increase compared with the previous financial year (9.4 per cent). This increase is due to the continuation of branch restructuring undertaken in the Information Access Branch.

Budgetary pressure continued to be a driver of staff separations.

To the extent possible, the Library engaged non-ongoing staff to fill short and longer term vacancies in periods of peak client demand. However, this was made difficult by the nature of the Canberra job market, with both individuals and employing agencies reluctant to pursue temporary positions.

At 30 June 2014, the temporary workforce still made up 10 per cent of the total Library workforce (unchanged from the figure as at 30 June 2013).


Table 23: Staff separation summary—1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014

Separation method

Section

Casual

Non-ongoing

Ongoing

Total

Age retirement

Database Services

1

1

Information Access

1

1

Politics and Public Administration

1

1

End of contract

Collection Management

1

1

Database Services

1

1

2

Database Services Processing

1

1

Economics

2

2

Law and Bills Digest

1

1

Office of Parliamentary Librarian

1

1

Social Policy

5

5

End temporary transfer

Foreign Affairs, Defence

1

1

Invalidity retirement

Cataloguing

1

1

Involuntary retirement

Serials

1

1

Permanent transfer

Database Services

1

1

Politics and Public Administration

1

1

Resignation

Foreign Affairs, Defence

2

2

Office of Parliamentary Librarian

1

1

Politics and Public Administration

1

1

Science, Technology

1

1

Serials

1

1

Social Policy

1

1

Voluntary Retirement

(Vol Ret Excess EA279(b))

Library Support

1

1

Serials

1

1

Total

3

14

13

30


Recruitment

In the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014, there were 23 new external employees hired of whom six were ongoing and 17 were non-ongoing.

  • Research Branch employed 18 new employees: four ongoing employees (PEL1, PSL6, PSL4/5 and PSL4) and 14 non-ongoing employees. These commencements were across the branch with Economics, Social Policy and Politics and Public Administration sections recruiting a total of four each (of the total 18 ).
  • Information Access Branch employed one ongoing employee (PEL2–Director, Collection Management) and one non-ongoing employee (PSL2).
  • Office of the Parliamentary Librarian employed three new employees: one ongoing employee (PSL6 part time) and two non-ongoing employees (PSL3 and PSL1 part time).

Age profile

As at 30 June 2014, 32 per cent of the Library’s ongoing staff were eligible to retire (that is, aged 55 years and over). A further 32 per cent will become eligible for retirement over the next 10 years. While the Library’s ongoing workforce has remained relatively stable, there has been a further reduction in representation of staff in the 25–34 years age group—down from 17 per cent in 2013 to 13 per cent at June 2014. At June 2014, the total ongoing workforce at risk of retirement in the next five years was 50 per cent—up slightly from 49 per cent in 2013.

As shown in the following graph, the Library’s age profile is much older than that for the Australian Public Service.

Figure 11: Age profile for Parliamentary Library and APS


Figure 11 Age Profile 

APS data is at December 2013.
Source: http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/parliamentary/aps-statistical-bulletin/snapshots-december-2013/table9

Report on performance

The Parliamentary Library aims to provide an effective knowledge centre for the Parliament through the provision of information, analysis and advice. These services are provided through two programs:

  • Research services. These services include responding to requests from individual parliamentary clients for information and research, and the production of publications.
  • 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.

Staff from the Office of the Parliamentary Librarian contribute to the work of both programs.

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

The Library uses the RefTracker Information Request Management System to manage client requests and other client related work. This records, among other things, the number of requests/publications and the time spent on them. The time attributed reflects only the direct time spent on each. However, the ability to provide effective and timely delivery of publication or commissioned services is underpinned by the time Library staff spend in building and maintaining their professional expertise across a range of frequently changing subject domains. In addition, comparisons of the number of jobs and hours across financial years should be made with regard to associated changes in staffing levels from year to year.

Research services

The services contributing to this program are as follows:

  • Commissioned information, research and advisory services—these are tailored responses prepared following requests from individual Senators, Members and their staff, and other parliamentary clients.
  • Research publications (Publications)—these are prepared where strong client demand is anticipated for briefing on specific policy issues. Publications include the Parliamentary Handbook, Briefing Book, Budget Review, Bills Digests, Research Papers, Quick Guides and FlagPost blog posts. Publications are generally available to clients and the public, through the Internet.

Table 24: Research services—deliverables

Deliverable

Measure

Performance

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Individual client requests

Percentage of primary clients using the service

Target: 100%

100%

98.6%

97.41%

Number of individual client requests

Target: 13,000

15,460

12,957

12,507

Self-service requests

Number of online uses of the Parliamentary Library’s publications, including the Parliamentary Handbook, through ParlInfo and the Internet

Target: 5,400,000

4.8m

5.3m

8.04m1

Publications

Number of publications produced

Target: 260

427

421

350

Client training and seminars

Attendance at training courses and events (e.g. Vital Issues Seminars)

Target: 500

589

601

641


1. In 2013–14 the self-service requests statistic was expanded to include ParlMap.


The following table illustrates the costs associated with providing research services.

Table 25: Research services—price indicators

Deliverable

Measure

Performance

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Cost of research
services

Average cost per individual client request

$426

$483

408.74

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

$0.68

N/A

$0.14


Client requests

During 2013–14, 97.41 per cent of the Library’s primary clients (Senators’ and Members’ offices, including Ministers’ offices) used the client request service at least once—again falling below the target of 100 per cent. This figure reflects the reduced demand for Library services in the pre-election period as Senators and Members, especially those who were retiring, turned their focus elsewhere.

However, at 30 June 2014, 100 per cent of Senators and Members in the 44th Parliament had used the client request service at least once.

The Library will continue to monitor usage closely in the 44th Parliament and consult with clients to ensure services are appropriately targeted.

The number of client requests also decreased slightly compared to the previous financial year, again reflecting the reduced pattern of Library use in election years.

Publications

In 2013–14, the Library produced 350 publications. This included 144 FlagPost blog posts which were written and posted in the financial year.

Of all Library publications, the most heavily used, and eagerly awaited, are Bills Digests. These provide an independent perspective on, and analysis of, legislation which is before the Parliament. Every effort is made to produce a Digest for every Bill where it is considered a Digest would add value by providing:

  • independent analysis, background information and additional perspectives not provided in the explanatory material associated with the Bill
  • information that is important for parliamentarians to be able to contribute effectively to debate.

Bills Digests are primarily written for Government Bills but may also be written for Private Senators’ and Members’ Bills where there is a reasonable prospect of the Bill being debated. A Digest may not be produced where the Bill is non-controversial or not complex and where the explanatory memorandum and second reading speech give a balanced view of the Bill and any underlying policy issues. Where there is a suite of Bills introduced into Parliament, generally only one Bills Digest will be produced for the main Bill (where appropriate this Bills Digest will address relevant provisions of the companion Bills). Finally, production of Digests may be affected by internal resource constraints.

At times a Bills Digest cannot be produced in time for the deadline for debate in the second chamber. This may be due to the amount of time allowed between introduction and debate, a change in the legislative program, or resources available to address the number and complexity of Bills in the legislative program. Where it is not possible to produce Digests in time for debates, every effort is made to support clients by providing draft Digests or other briefing material.

The Library published 97 Bills Digests in 2013–14 (including two for private Bills)—some 40 per cent fewer than in 2012–13. The scale of the reduction reflects the effect of an election year on the legislative program.

Digests were not produced for 16 Government Bills, for two of which the Library published instead a Quick Guide and a FlagPost respectively. Of these 16 Bills, four were introduced in Parliament and passed both Houses in two days and three others were introduced and passed within a week. Digests were not produced for eight of the 16 Bills because they did not address controversial policy issues or did not require additional explanatory information to assist in the debate.

Digests were not completed in time for debate for a further 12 Bills, eight of which were still before Parliament when it was prorogued on 5 August 2013.

Figure 12: Distribution of client service hours by service type9


Figure 12 Distribution of Client Service 

In 2013–14 Library staff hours spent on publications increased slightly (by 1.5 per cent) and hours spent responding to enquiries placed directly by Senators and Members increased by 13.8 per cent.

Hours on client services to parliamentary committees, parliamentary departments and reciprocal arrangements decreased by 17.8 per cent in 2013–14.

Client training and seminars

During the year, Library induction and orientation services were held for 272 clients (up from 112 in 2012–13). These continued to be successful in providing, through individual and small group sessions, a timely and detailed introduction to Library services. Thirty-six Library staff were appointed as contact officers to assist new Senators and Members. In addition, the Parliamentary Librarian and other Library staff participated in formal induction sessions for new Senators and new Members.

Parliamentary Library Lectures attracted 369 attendees in 2013–14 (down from 489 in 2012–13), the difference in part due to the reduced number of sitting weeks in an election year. 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: the Budget; the impact of preferential voting on Senate election results; the ALRC Inquiry into Copyright and the Digital Economy; Aboriginals in the First Australian Imperial Force; assisting people with disabilities to find employment; going to war in 1914; and machinery of government changes after an election.

9. The figure for Hours on commissioned services for Senators and Members was incorrectly reported as 30,537 for 2012–13 in the 2012-–13 Annual Report and has been amended to 26,834 in Figure 7.

Client satisfaction with requests and publications


Table 26: Research services—key performance indicators

Key performance Indicator

Measure

Performance

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Client satisfaction with requests and publications

High level of customer satisfaction10

Target: 95%

93%

93%

93%

Client service delivered to timeliness service standard

Target: 90%

88%

90%

90%

Number of complaints from clients

1

2

0


The most recent (2012) Evaluation of Parliamentary Library Services found client satisfaction with the Library’s service in the 43rd Parliament was 93 per cent, up from 87 per cent in the 2007 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 Parliamentary Library is committed to the ongoing improvement of its service delivery across both programs. While the formal client evaluation of Library services is conducted only once each Parliament, the Library regularly receives direct and unsolicited feedback from clients by phone or email about aspects of its service.

The Library Executive also proactively seeks to meet with as many clients as possible each year to help broaden client awareness of the range of service offerings, and also to elicit forthright feedback (where appropriate, these meetings are followed up with targeted training or other client support initiatives). All such feedback from clients is highly valued, be it compliments, brickbats or complaints, suggestions or information requests about services. All are vital to enable the Library to:

  • improve our services and products
  • help prevent problems from occurring in the future
  • ensure more consistent service delivery
  • communicate more effectively with clients about Library services.

Performance against the timeliness target in 2013–14 met the target of 90 per cent.

The Research Branch received no complaints in 2013–14.

10. As measured in the Evaluation of Parliamentary Library Services: Optimising Client Service Delivery, 2012

Information access services

The services contributing to this program include:

  • the Library collection—development of the collection to meet users’ needs and provision of access through the catalogue and ParlInfo
  • online full-text content such as news clippings
  • media services—desktop access to television and radio news and current affairs programs broadcast in Canberra, provided to Senators and Members for their parliamentary duties
  • commercial databases—including online full-text journal and newspaper services available through the Library client services’ portal and the Senators’ and Members’ Services Portal
  • client services including the Central Enquiry Point and self-help services.

As far as possible, usage rates of all of these services are monitored to ensure that they remain relevant and are of practical assistance to Senators, Members and their staff.

To help clients use these services effectively, the Library provides orientation and training courses as well as online assistance.


Table 27: Information access services—deliverables

Deliverable

Measure

Performance

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Material added
to Library databases

Number of items added to the Library’s Electronic Media Monitoring Service and to
ParlInfo databases

Target: 150,000

185,600

181,578

158,556

Material added to Library collection

Number of new titles (books and serials) added to the Library’s catalogue

Target: 4,000

4,652

4,168

3,915

Percentage of titles (books and serials) in Library’s collection available to clients online in full-text

Target: 36%

33%

34.3%

36%

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

3.48m

3.20m1

4.66m


1. The vendor-provided data for use of the Library’s collection and databases has been reassessed by the Parliamentary Library and duplication removed. The figure for 2012–13 was reported as 3.29 million in the 2012–13 Annual Report and has been amended to 3.20 million in Table 6.


Table 28: Information access services—price indicators

Deliverable

Measure

Performance

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Cost of information
access services

Average cost per item added to the Library’s collection

$298

$366

$264.30

Average cost per item added to the Library’s databases

$20.32

$20.76

$18.81

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

$2.32

$2.28

$1.37


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 decreased to 150,000 in 2013–14 from 190,000 the previous financial year due to tightening of the selection guidelines. This new target was met with 158,556 items added.

Figure 13: Newspaper clips added to ParlInfo by source

Figure 13 Newspaper Clips Parlinfo 

Material added to the Library collection

The number of new titles (books and serials) added to the Library’s catalogue fell slightly short of the 4,000 target number at 3,915.

The percentage of titles available online (full-text) increased from 34 per cent to 36 per cent.

The Fair Value of the Library collection as at 30 June 2012 was $4,740,321 and the replacement value was $10,874,430.

Use of the Library’s collection and databases

The target figure of 3.8 million uses of the Library’s collection and databases was met with 4.66 million uses being reported. The increased use of Library databases in ParlInfo by Senators, Members and their staff indicates that the services are valuable and relevant to their needs. Usage reflects the growing success of the Library’s efforts to introduce and promote self-help services at the desktop and on mobile devices.

The digitisation of the historic press release collection and the Prime Ministers information files will further increase use of the Library’s collection and databases.


Table 29: Information access services — key performance indicators

Key performance indicator

Measure

Performance

2011–12

2012–13

2013–14

Client satisfaction with information access services

High level of client satisfaction1

Target: 95%

93%2

93%

93%

New titles (books and serials) added to the Library’s catalogue within timeliness service standard

Target: 100%

74%

78%3

96%

New items added to the Library’s Electronic Media Monitoring Service and the ParlInfo newspaper clippings database within timeliness service standard

Target: 95%

93%

96%4

94%

Number of complaints from clients

0

0

4


1. As measured by the Evaluation of Parliamentary Library Services: Optimising Client Service Delivery, 2012.
2. As measured by the 2009 DPS Customer Survey.
3. The figure for new titles (books and serials) added to the Library’s catalogue within timeliness service standard for 2012–13 was incorrectly reported as 72% in the 2012–13 Annual Report and has been amended to 78% in Table 8.
4. The figure for new items added to the Library’s Electronic Media Monitoring Service and the ParlInfo newspaper clippings database within timeliness service standard target for target for 2012–13 was incorrectly reported as 95% in the 2012–13 Annual Report and has been amended to 96% in Table 8.


Client satisfaction with information access services

See the discussion on client satisfaction indicators at page 38.

The key performance indicator for ‘new titles (books and serials) added to the Library’s catalogue within timeliness service standard’ was changed with effect from 2013–14. It now measures timeliness in relation to cataloguing direct client requests (with a turnaround deadline of 24 hours). These items are classed as urgent and are catalogued as a priority by Collection Management staff. This change was made in recognition of the impact of budget driven reductions in staff numbers in the cataloguing team at the end of 2012–13. The 95 per cent target for adding routine items to the catalogue within the service standard (two weeks) was not reached, with only 68 per cent of material being added within this time-frame.

The targets for timeliness in adding new items to the Library’s collections were also not met. This was a direct result of the impact on a small team of unplanned and unavoidable staff absences combined with an uneven distribution of materials received each month.

For the Electronic Media Monitoring Service and the ParlInfo newspaper clippings database, the problems arose from intermittent technical failures.

The Information Access Branch received four complaints in 2013–14, all relating to the implementation of the new breaking news service. Each of these complaints was followed up with the client. A new breaking news stream was subsequently implemented to improve the quality of the service.

Financial report


Table 30: Financial report

2012–13

2013–14

2013–14

Actual ($)

Budget ($)1

Actual ($)

Income

 

 

Operating appropriation

16,291,953

15,923,162

14,583,412

Capital

655,820

766,000

671,648

Expenditure—Operating appropriation

Employee (including entitlements)

Research Branch

7,899,918

8,883,942

8,303,870

Information Access Branch

4,373,693

4,100,753

3,438,289

Parliamentary Librarian

642,670

932,178

901,492

Total employee

12,916,281

13,916,873

12,658,651

Employee related expenses (includes staff training and other expenses)

143,226

178,700

113,798

Collection (information resources)

2,046,608

1,517,723

1,659,997

Other expenses

114,247

224,666

72,859

Asset maintenance (software licences/maintenance)

67,221

85,200

78,107

Hansard printing3

534,600

0

0

Total operational expenditure (includes expenditure from capitalised salaries but not other capital funding)

15,822,183

15,923,162

14,583,412

Expenditure — Capital

374,738

766,000

671,6482

Summary by organisational unit (includes capital)

Parliamentary Librarian

967,558

1,075,028

973,098

Research Branch

8,052,283

9,090,842

8,423,588

Information Access Branch

7,177,080

5,757,293

5,858,373

Total expenditure (including expenditure from capital funding)

16,196,921

16,689,162

15,255,059


1. As set out in the Resource Agreement 2013–14.
2. Includes Library collection acquisitions $492,255, Small Library Systems $43,568, Parliamentary Handbook $10,074, and a Digitisation Project $125,751.
3. Hansard printing was managed by the Library but was not a ‘Library’ direct expense. This activity moved to Content Management Branch at the end of 2012–13.


Table 31: Library staffing

Staffing (full-time equivalents)

Anticipated

Actual1

Research Branch

69.4

67.91

Information Access Branch

44.1

42.52

Office of the Parliamentary Librarian

7.8

7.73

Total

121.3

118.16


1. Average for 2013–14






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