1 February 2016
National Library staff with Director-General Anne-Marie Schwirtlich celebrate the addition of the first e-book to the new digital collection - Photo: courtesy National Library of Australia

In February 2016, the National Library of Australia added the first ebook to its collection – following the introduction of amendments to the Copyright Act. Thomas Keneally’s latest novel Napoleon’s Last Island has made digital history as the first item to be deposited in the National Library’s digital collection.

Long established legal deposit requirements within the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), have enabled the National Library of Australia to collect a copy of all Australian publications.  These requirements continue to ensure a comprehensive collection of material relating to Australia and its people is preserved for the use of current and future generations of Australians. The Australian Government has now extended the legal deposit scheme to include electronic publications, reflecting the new digital age we live in.

The amendments to the Copyright Act came into effect on 17 February 2016 and allow the National Library of Australia to collect everything from ebooks to blogs, websites to social media.

Keneally, who won the Man Booker Prize in 1982 for Schindler’s Ark, told the National Library he was proud that his ebook paved the way for this new era of digital collecting—a significant moment for Australian authors, publishers and readers.

"This is a wonderful symbol that writing and stories old and new still belong in the digital age," Keneally said.

A digital book is a book doubled, tripled or quadrupled and a book given to the future."

Publishers and authors can now upload electronic books, journals, magazines and newsletters through the NLA’s website. Access to the collection of digital publications will be available to the public later this year. Find more information on the National Library of Australia’s website.