January 19, 2022

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Dismantles Sound and Reference Libraries, Cuts 10 Librarian Positions

UPDATED POST February 5, 2o18 ABC Plans To Send Entire Book Collection to Samoa to Save Money (via The Guardian)

A last-ditch attempt to prevent the dismantling of the ABC’s sound and reference libraries will be made at a board meeting on Thursday as it emerged that management is planning to send its entire book collection to Samoa.


Sources say management plans include packing up all 22,000 books in Sydney and Melbourne – apart from a few “special items” – and sending them to Samoa. The books have been targeted because management wants the library space for the IT division.

From The Guardian:

The ABC is dismantling its historic sound and reference libraries across the country and making 10 specialist librarians redundant to free up floor space and save on wages.


The librarians know the collection intimately and suggest music for documentaries and other programs.

The libraries will be “culled and packed” to reduce duplication and to “align with production requirements”, according to the staff announcement.

A single “consolidated” library will survive in Melbourne with a skeleton staff who will digitise a fraction of the collection. A small classical music collection will remain in Sydney for Classic FM.

Library sources say they believe only between 5% and10 % of the collection will be digitised into the Broadcast Music Bank and only 700 of the more than 100,000 CDs have been digitised so far. They fear the reduction in choice and expertise will “homogenise” the music heard on the national broadcaster.

Staff were told that the 373,000 vinyl records “will be dealt with following the transfer of CDs”. No changes have been announced for the ABC’s archives of film and tape.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.