In March 1852 a Select Committee of the Legislative Council (established in 1825) was appointed to manage the affairs of its Library. A Joint House Committee was formed in 1856 when bicameral Parliament was established. Permanent staff for the Library did not eventuate until 1883, when a Library Attendant was first appointed, although the Clerks continued to oversee the operations of the Library. This modest establishment continued up to the Second World War, despite burgeoning bookstocks, and inadequate housing for them. In 1940, following a major renovation of the Parliament, a new spacious room was set aside for the Library, and the following year the Librarian of the National Library in Canberra, Kenneth Binns, was requested to advise on Tasmanian library services, and specifically on improving the Parliamentary Library.
Binns recommended close co-operation with the State Library, and the provision by that organisation of a part-time trained officer who would also catalogue the collection. It was not until 1945 that the first appointee took up the post, and in 1948, following a decision to discard a considerable portion of the books, work began on a proper dictionary card catalogue. By 1962 the shelving capacity had been augmented, and Miss Eve Masterman, by now ostensibly a full time employee, was able to gain support for a part-time assistant. However on her retirement in 1967 there was still dispute over the need to continue with a Librarian. The Committee once again sought assistance from the National Library, and in 1970 the first fully qualified permanent appointment to the position of Librarian was made. By 1974 a post of Deputy Librarian was added and a newspaper clippings file was established. This was followed by the appointment of two assistants in 1975, and by 1985 the Library had embraced the new technology by engaging in television monitoring and use of PC’s.
The 1990s proved to be an era of political instability throughout Australia, ushered in by Tasmanian elections which gave the balance of power to Independents, intent on having adequate research and reference support. This resulted in a dramatic increase in the services provided by the Library, and the number of staff necessary to implement them.
In 2011 the Parliamentary Library became independent from the State Library and the staff transferred to employment by the Tasmanian Parliament under the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1898. The change allows collection development and service delivery to be focused on the strategic priorities and needs of the Parliament.
Today the 9.65 Library and PRS staff provide a wide range of library and resource services, including several unique services available only within the Parliamentary Library. Principle services to Members include:
- High quality information, analysis and advice
- Intermediary service (where client anonymity is desirable)
- Electronic clippings from Tasmanian newspapers available on the intranet
- Digital capture of television news broadcasts, radio programs and a transcription service providing typed transcripts on request.
The Library also has a range of information which it creates for Members, including ISYS software to index Hansard (full-text); Questions and adjournments by indexing Hansard, a Bills register indexing speeches and progress and a digital store of extrinsic material relating to bills.
Within the neutral environment of the Library, the Parliamentary Research Service exists to provide Members with value-added services involving interpretation and analysis. This research activity includes Issue Briefs, written for all Members as background papers; Research Notes, confidential personal research of a limited nature, and PRS Papers, which are longer research papers provided on request by Members.
The Parliamentary Library has increased online information content and continues to explore opportunities as new technologies appear. The growing emphasis on the delivery of value-added, packaged information to Members has created an environment for the Parliamentary Library to develop new services and priorities in online formats.
The Library is developing services that recognise the priority of information provision when required by a Member and wherever the Member is at the time.
Dr Marijana Bacic
HOBART TAS. 7000
Phone: (03) 6212 2240