Frequently asked questions

What does the library collect?

State Library of Queensland is a leading collector of Queensland's documentary heritage capturing the essence and distinctiveness of Queensland for current and future generations.

We collect a wide range of content both contemporary and retrospective chronicling events, people, places and ideas that continue to shape Queensland.

Content is collected for the informational value it contributes to the building of a collection that reflects the Queensland experience. It is intended that the John Oxley Library collection is developed comprehensively by scope and depth not as a quantity measure.

Our challenge is to proactively seek material that represents the diversity of the Queensland experience.

We collect both original materials (such as diaries, letters and oral histories) and materials published in and about Queensland, and by Queensland authors.

Materials are collected for their

  • research value
  • historic association, and their
  • social and cultural significance.

Other factors to be considered are provenance and context, representative criteria, rarity, condition, completeness, integrity and interpretative potential.

To read more about what we collect refer to the Content Strategy. The Content Strategy contains a Collection Statement for each of the collection areas.

Materials not generally collected

Material that duplicates items already held in the collection is generally not collected. Some exceptions to this are titles in high demand, ready reference materials, maps, newspapers and fragile or rare material.

Further categories not generally collected are:

  • Highly parochial or specialised serials. (e.g. herd books) These are sought only on a selective basis.
  • Copies, particularly photocopies, reprints and editions without change.
    • Exact duplicates of materials held in the Australian Library of Art unless:
    • It qualifies as legal deposit
    • The offered copy is in excellent condition compared to the duplicate already held
  • Curriculum materials, unless published in Queensland
  • Promotional and advertising materials, except for samples collected to illustrate cultural or political ephemera
  • Family bibles, unless the provenance is exceptional and the work includes extensive and relevant marginalia other than genealogical information
  • Blank diaries or calendars, except for samples collected to illustrate publishing within Queensland
  • Conference papers for conference held in Queensland, unless there is relevant Queensland content
  • Film held by other collecting institutions.

Material not generally collected for the Original Content collection

  • Reproductions of original materials
  • Duplicate copies of original materials
  • Original materials created by government departments, agencies or other public entities and their predecessor agencies. This is the role of the Queensland State Archives.
  • Research notes, except those with significant original content relating to Queensland and Queensland authors.
  • Original materials (including images and works of art) with significant copyright encumbrances or unreasonable restrictions on access
  • Theses (as they are subject to specific access conditions and are usually archived by the relevant universities)
  • Trade Union records (collected nationally by Noel Butlin Archives, ANU, Canberra)

Does the library collect digital material?

State Library is committed to growing its unique digital heritage collections for the benefit of current and future generations. As with our paper collections, we acquire digital collections through donations, private sales, legal deposit, auctions, and bequests.

Digital items generally fall into two categories – born digital, and turned digital.

  • Born digital: Materials that originate in digital form and which, in their original form, require a digital device to be utilised.
  • Turned digital: Materials that have been created in analogue/physical/paper form, later converted to digital form.

Digital items commonly acquired by State Library include:

  • websites and blogs
  • digital photographs and film footage
  • digital documents (newsletters, journals, etc)
  • e-books
  • digital sound recordings
  • online newspapers
  • digital stories and oral histories
  • digital media (CDs, DVDs, CD-Roms)
  • personal papers and archives, created digitally (including electronic correspondence, diaries, literary drafts, etc)
  • business and organisational records, created digitally (including minutes, reports, ledgers, notes, speeches, correspondence, etc)
  • computer-generated architectural plans
  • computer-generated maps
  • emails and mobile phone text messages
  • social media including Twitter feeds (with appropriate permissions)
  • webcomics
  • zines
  • ephemera (invitations, posters, catalogues, menus, etc)

Digital collections – material not generally collected

  • digital art (unless it depicts a specific event/person/place relating to our state/country's history, with significant research value)
  • games (a representative sample of video games created in state/country will be collected)
  • mobile apps (a representative sample of mobile applications created in state/country will be collected)
  • digital collections where provenance (ownership and/or creator) cannot be established or verified
  • digital collections with excessively prohibitive restrictions on their use
  • duplicate copies of items

What happens to my donation once it is transferred to the library?

Depending on the type, size, fragility and value of your collection, it can be submitted in person, online via the Deposit Wizard, via email, or by post.

Once received by the library, your donation will be checked for viruses (digital donations) or pests (paper and analogue donations) and then placed in a queue for processing.

Please be patient. Ensuring your items are described, stored and preserved properly is time-consuming, and your items can be 'in process' for quite some time. Don't expect to see your donated collections up online the day after you submit them!

If you have any questions about the donation process, please contact us

What happens if my item/collection is not accepted?

Unfortunately State Library of Queensland is not able to accept all offers of donation.

Just because your item doesn't fit our selection criteria, does not mean that it can't find a suitable home somewhere else. Try your local library, archive, museum or historical society. Below are some useful links to help you find an alternative home for your item/s.

Museum and Gallery Services, Queensland – list of Museums & Galleries
Directory of Queensland Public Libraries
Historical Societies: Family and Historical Societies in Queensland from CoraWeb or History Queensland
National Library of Australia
Queensland State Archives
National Archives of Australia
UQ Alumni Book Fair
ABE Books (online marketplace for new, used, rare and out-of-print books)

Unsolicited donations that do not fit our selection criteria, and without contact details of the donor, will be disposed of at State Library's discretion.


Over the years, State Library's collections have benefited greatly from the generosity of donors who make bequests to the library. These bequests benefit not only the library, but our entire community, and we thank everyone who has made bequests in the past.

If you are considering making a future bequest to the library, it is important that your wishes are clear, concise, and without ambiguity. For more information, please see more information about Bequests.

Copy Loans

It is not general practice at State Library to accept "copy loans" of original photographs or other material owned by private individuals, unless the material is of exceptional historical importance. It is State Library's strong preference to accept the original item, to ensure its preservation and ongoing access.

Cultural Gifts Program

State Library participates in the Cultural Gifts Program – a taxation incentive scheme run by the Federal Government's Office for the Arts to encourage culturally significant gifts to public art galleries, museums, libraries and archives. It is State Library's policy for donors to arrange and pay for the valuation of the material being donated. For more information about the Cultural Gifts Program, please visit their website:

Does the library purchase collections?

State Library purchases collections from antiquarian dealers, vendors and private individuals. The same selection criteria apply to purchases as to donations.

Government Records

Queensland State Archives, National Archives of Australia and the John Oxley Library are all in the business of preserving collections for future generations and making them publicly available. The difference in our records is in their creators.

Official records created by Queensland Government departments or agencies in their daily work are Government Records and are collected by Queensland State Archives. These records form the corporate memory of government. In a similar way any original records created by Commonwealth Government departments or agencies are held by the National Archives of Australia.

The John Oxley Library collects personal papers and manuscripts, business/organisation records, architectural drawings/ plans, original photographs and motion picture footage, realia, oral histories, artworks, and station records, in addition to published Government publications.

I have a collection of DVDs which I no longer need

If they are about Queensland or produced in Queensland and we don't already have a copy we would like to see them. In all other cases it is very unlikely we will add them to the collection. Please see the FAQ on Motion Pictures for more information.

I have a family Bible that I would like to donate…

The Bible is the most frequently published book in the English language so family Bibles are frequently offered to the State Library of Queensland. However family Bibles are generally not accepted into the collection. The History and Art of the Book Collection holds a number of Bibles which include significant editions such as 'The Great She Bible' (1613) or copies that provide examples of early and fine printing, fine bindings, illuminations, chromolithography and private press publishing. Donations of Bibles for the collections will be assessed on these criteria.

I have some books from the 1920s and they look valuable

If your books are about Queensland or published in Queensland and we don't already have a copy we would like to see them. In all other cases it is very unlikely we will add them to the collection. Exceptions would be items which are unique for their binding, printing technique or illustrations. If you think they might be in this category please contact us via the Donation Enquiry Form. If no, please see the FAQ What happens if my item/collection is not accepted? for a list of possible alternatives homes for your item.

Indigenous Collections

State Library has a strong commitment to collecting and sharing Queensland's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Any material that documents the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Queensland will be strongly considered for the collection: from 19th century photographs and manuscripts, through to contemporary content such as digital stories and digital images. The process for acquiring and making this material available is consistent with State Library's Protocols for Indigenous Collections.

Legal Deposit

All Queensland publishers, including government departments, commercial organisations, clubs, churches, societies and private individuals, are required by law to deposit a copy of their publications with both the State Library of Queensland and the Queensland Parliamentary Library, as well as the National Library of Australia. This requirement is contained in part 8 of the Libraries Act 1988(Qld). See more information about Legal Deposit obligations.

If your item is electronic, and is to be deposited under Legal Deposit legislation, please go straight to our Deposit Wizard.

Motion Pictures

State Library collects film and video that reflects Queensland's history as well as its contemporary stories. This includes a range of formats – including 16mm, Super 8, VHS and digital MOV files. The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) is the lead agency for collecting motion picture footage in Australia. If a copy of a film has already been lodged with NFSA, State Library will not accept a duplicate. Similarly, broadcast footage is rarely accepted. Particular areas of interest include early home movie footage, unpublished documentary footage and filmed interviews.

Prominent Australians (non-Queensland)

Works by Prominent Australians (non-Queenslanders) will be assessed for inclusion in the collection primarily on the basis of their Queensland content. Works with a high percentage of information about Queensland events, people and places will be considered for inclusion in the collection.

Queensland authors

The State Library of Queensland broadly defines a Queensland author as:

Someone who has published a work (under his or her own name or a nom de plume) and who was born in Queensland, or resided in Queensland for approximately five years or more.

The criteria for selecting material for the collection is different for fiction and non-fiction works.

Fiction: The State Library's John Oxley Library collects novels, short stories, poetry, stage plays, screen plays and song lyrics by Queensland authors. The criteria for collecting of works of non-fiction is much more restrictive.

Non-fiction works, not published in Queensland, will be assessed for inclusion in the collection primarily on the basis of their Queensland content. Works with a high percentage of information about Queensland events, people and places will be considered for inclusion in the collection.

Rare books

Books are regarded as rare based on their age, scarcity or monetary value. The State Library of Queensland collects rare books for the John Oxley Library and The Australian Library of Art. Rare book material considered for donation must comply with the collecting intentions for these collections.

Works published in Queensland or those with a high percentage of information about Queensland events, people and places will be considered for inclusion in the John Oxley Library. Rare books considered for inclusion in the Australian Library of Art will include Australian art and fine printing, as well as antiquities showing early forms of communication, incunabula and works of early printing, books published before 1840, deluxe and limited edition books, and works featuring fine examples of binding and illustration including original artworks, illumination and chromolithography.


The following forms will need to be completed to formalise the donation. You can print them and complete by hand to be sent in the mail, or download and save them to complete electronically and submit via email.

We ask our donors to assist us by listing and/or describing their donations, prior to them being accepted into our collection. We use your donation list as a tool in the preliminary appraisal process. If accepted, this list will then be converted into the public listing on our catalogue. The amount of information you provide will be reflected in the usefulness of the catalogue record, and will affect how the public is able to find your items online.

Please use the Item Listing instructions to complete the Item Listing [DOC 41.1 KB]

If you are unable to complete the listing for any reason, please contact us.

As well as the item listing, you will need to complete a Deed of Gift [PDF 86.7 KB] for donations of Original content, which outlines conditions of access, use and reproduction.


State Library is an active participant in PANDORA - Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia - a national archive of Australian online publications and websites. For more information about our involvement in PANDORA, and to access our collection of archived Queensland websites, please view archived websites.
If you know of a Queensland website that should be preserved, please suggest a site for Pandora

What if the book/s I want to donate have nothing to do with Queensland or with Australian fine art?

Unless your donation is likely to be suitable for our rare books collection (see FAQ Rare books) it is very unlikely to be accepted for donation to our collection. Please see the FAQ What happens if my item/collection is not accepted? for a list of possible alternatives homes for your item.

What is the difference between published content and original content?

Material is considered to have been published if reproductions of the material or edition have been supplied (whether by sale or otherwise) to the general public.

On the other hand, original material created by an individual or organisation has never been sold or made available to the general public. This can include business and organisational records, images, motion picture footage, sound recordings, personal papers and manuscripts, diaries, and original maps.

How can I make a monetary donation to support State Library's work?

The Queensland Library Foundation seeks donations to maintain, enhance and expand State Library's collections, facilities and services, and to preserve Queensland's cultural heritage. You can support the Foundation's work by making a donation or arranging for a bequest, or contributing to the Legacy Partners Program.

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