IAML Australia response to ABC Reference and Sound Library proposed restructure

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has recently announced proposed dramatic changes to their Reference and Sound Libraries. These proposed changes if implemented will reduce the number of specialist staff, change services to their customers and see the reduction and relocation of parts of the vast audio collections held by the ABC.

In response, the IAML Australia Executive have sent a letter to ABC management protesting these proposed changes and recommended that the ABC reconsider their position on a number of issues. The letter was also shared with IAML International.

Here is the message ABC staff have received regarding the proposed changes:



Here is the letter IAML Australia has sent:

2 February 2018

The International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Document Centres (IAML) Australia actively
protests the current proposal to reduce the ABC’s Reference and Sound Library services, specialist staff and
music collections.

IAML Australia, as an organisation promotes activities of libraries, archives and documentation centres
concerned with music and music materials, for the purpose of strengthening cooperation among institutions
and individuals working in these fields. As a result, our professional members who come from Libraries across
Australia including National, State, Local Council, Universities, and Specialist Libraries such as those operated
within the ABC, are deeply dismayed by the proposed changes and the potential ramification that these
changes will have on our members, industry and communities. IAML Australia and its members have had a
long and beneficial partnership with ABC Reference and Sound Library staff, and we are very keen to see this
continue into the future.

IAML Australia strenuously recommends that the ABC reconsider their positions on:

  • The reduction of specialist staff
    • ABC specialist staff are going to be key to creating, implementing and managing the digital archive
      of audio collections proposed in the changes. Digital assets require detailed descriptions created
      by highly skilled specialists to be usable and discoverable in a time of need by journalists and
      content producers as they create ABC radio and television programs.
    • Specialist Library staff are vital to all information based organisations, and they can and will
      provide services no-one else can. The ABC spans a country with multiple time zones. We believe
      that without Specialist Library staff available to research and resource journalists and content
      producers across the 24 hour news cycle the ABC will be less able to respond in an informed
  • The reduction of audio collections
    • Co-location of collections and specialist staff will negatively impact both access to existing
      collections and knowledge about these collections. Institutional memory of highly-skilled specialist
      staff is crucial to an information organisation to maximise its return on investment in resources
      and infrastructure.
    • The vast ABC sound collections are an investment in the culture of Australia. It is recommended
      that the ABC consider increasing the return on this investment through making these collections
      available via a public catalogue listing. Showcasing the ABC collections will encourage people
      internal and external to the ABC to use, research and share the richness of these amazing collections.

IAML Australia is committed to the support and promotion of Libraries involved in music and we firmly stand
against the reduction in Reference and Sound Library services, specialist staff and collections at the publicly
funded ABC.

We hope that you will consider our recommendations and also seek out further advice from us or the Library
industry before committing to these proposed and potentially detrimental changes to the ABC, the Library
industry and the Australian public.


Anna J. Shelmerdine
President on behalf of IAML Australia

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