This is an archive copy of a web document originally located at

Olympic Information Seminar

Olympic Documentation at the National Library of Australia

Ros Macdonald
National Library of Australia


The National Library of Australia’s brief under the National Library Act of 1960 is to ‘develop a comprehensive collection of material relating to Australia and the Australian people’

Part of this broad policy is to document major national and international events in Australia and events overseas involving Australians. The Bicentennial, Expo 88, the recent Constitutional Convention and all federal elections are a few examples of event-based collecting.

Although the Library has always collected material (principally mainstream books and serials) for events such as these, in recent years it has been able to focus more project-based resource management on this collecting activity. This is necessary if the collecting is going to do justice to the scope of these large scale events.

The aim of the National Library’s project covering the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Paralympics is to provide documentation of these and associated events and of their impact on Australia. This material will be available for current research use and it will be a valuable resource for in depth historical research in the future.


Many publications held are official programmes for individual sports (both in ephemera and in the main collection)



Scope of material collected

The National Library’s collection is mainly paper based, although digital material is increasingly being collected. This focus flows on to the project, which aims to collect books, serials, newsletters, posters, ephemera, and multimedia kits. The ephemera includes material such as brochures, leaflets, fliers, fact sheets, programs, letters, media releases, postcards, speeches, material printed from the Internet and a variety of advertising and promotional material. Some of the advertising and promotional material received is not paper based, but we are not actively seeking such items. Newspaper cuttings are not being included in the collection, unless part of a kit of material received, as a wide range of Australian and overseas newspapers are routinely collected by the Library’s Newspaper Reading Room. Material deemed to be of lasting research value or of an unusual nature is occasionally printed from the Internet for inclusion in the ephemera collection.

The Electronic Unit within the National Library has archived one site in relation to the Sydney 2000 Games, with another site in the process of being archived. These sites are the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) site (archived) with the Olympic Co-ordination Authority site in the process of being archived. The archived address for SOCOG is :

The Oral History Unit has some transcripts which relate to the Sydney 2000 Olympics. One item of interest is that of the address, in 1993, by Bob Elphinstone (General Manager, Sydney Olympic 2000 Bid), to the National Press Club. Further material will be collected by the Oral History Unit leading up to and post the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

History of the project

In 1994, after the success of the 1993 Sydney Olympics 2000 Bid, the Australian Acquisitions Section first approached the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) for legal deposit copies of their publications. At that time collecting for the Sydney Olympics was part of the normal work of Australian Acquisitions. During 1997 a strategy document was prepared which recognised that designated staff would be required to monitor developments and news of the Olympics, establish contact with bodies involved, acquire and process material. The project formally commenced in September 1997.

Strategy document

The strategy document focussed on the parameters of the project such as the scope of the event and the material to be collected. Not only will the 2000 Olympic Games, Paralympics and associated events be covered, but the project will also extend to the post-games period. Different aspects which the project is focussing on were detailed in the strategy document.
These are:

Methods and strategies for developing the collection, control, access and staffing were also set out in the strategy document.


Collection development

Much of the daily work of the project entails establishing and maintaining contact with bodies involved with the Olympic Games and claiming material as we become aware of it. Scanning of newspapers, Internet sites and incoming material alerts us to emerging issues, new publications and new contacts. Contact has been made both with government and non-government bodies involved in areas such as planning, tourism, environmental issues, associated cultural events, business, sponsorship and transport. Campaigns have been conducted to contact official bodies, state projects, each of the Team Millennium Olympic Partners and to cover the two Olympic Arts Festivals staged so far.

Growth of the collection

Over the twelve months the project has run a total of 882 items have been added to the National Library’s collection. Between 40 and 155 items are received per month, the majority being ephemera.

Particular strengths of the collection are emerging. These include development of the facilities, environmental issues, tourism, sponsorship, and the Olympic Arts Festivals. The large amount of material received so far covering development of the facilities and environmental issues is very much due to the conscientious deposit of material by the Olympic Co-ordination Authority (OCA) and Green Games Watch. We also hope to develop a Canberra focus to the collection with Project 2000, the ACT government body responsible for promoting Canberra, depositing material regularly.

Although the collection is largely paper based the research value of material does not depend solely on words. Visual messages are also important. The images contained in advertising material are an obvious example. One of the highlights of recent additions to the collection was a package of material from the Olympic Arts Festivals, which contained spectacular posters and banners from last year’s Festival of the Dreaming.


Difficulties in collecting

Contact has been made with a large number of organisations involved with the Sydney Olympics, but a regular supply of material is dependant on how well they deposit material with the library. Staff time devoted to the daily work of the project is 30-50% of one full time position, so it is simply not possible to maintain regular contact. As the year 2000 approaches many organisations are becoming larger. Communication of our original request and of legal deposit provisions is often lost as responsibility changes hands. Sometimes, in large organisations, it is difficult to contact the person who is responsible for a particular publication or project. In the rush to prepare for the Games, organisations sometimes do not have the staff resources to follow up our request in a regular way. Understandably, it is also not seen as a priority for them. The danger in this is that not only will the National Library’s collection suffer, but that much of the information which is circulating now will be lost to future researchers.

Public access

Material collected as a result of the Sydney 2000 Olympics project will be carefully housed and preserved as part of the national collection. It will provide a picture of this event and its impact on Australian life for researchers, both now and in the future.

Access to the Library’s printed collections is through its reading rooms.

The National Library’s catalogue is available via its home page and can be searched on the Internet. It is available at:

A search by author or title, or by subject headings for the Sydney Olympic Games or Paralympics will retrieve individual items and a record for the ephemera collection.

The record for the material in the Ephemera collection follows.

Enquiries to Petherick Reading Room




Ephemera relating to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games : ephemera from official bodies, federal departments, state projects, sponsors (including Team Millennium Olympic Partners), the Olympic Coin Program, environmental groups, tourism bodies, business groups and centres, academic institutions, conferences, the arts festivals, other events, etc.


[1991- ]

Contents Note

Includes media information, postcards, fact sheets, Brochures, programs, letters, advertising and promotional material, leaflets, speeches, material printed from the Internet, etc.


1. Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.
2. Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee.
3. New South Wales. Olympic Co-Ordination Authority.
4. New South Wales. Olympic Roads and Transport Authority.
5. Project 2000 [Canberra, A.C.T.]
6. Green Games Watch 2000.
7. University of New South Wales. Centre for Olympic Studies.


1. Olympic Games (27th : 2000 : Sydney, N.S.W.)
2. Paralympics (11th : 2000 : Sydney, N.S.W.)
3. Olympic Games (27th : 2000 : Sydney, N.S.W.) -- Buildings.
4. Olympic Games (27th : 2000 : Sydney, N.S.W.) -- Planning.
5. Olympic Games (27th : 2000 : Sydney, N.S.W.) – Economic aspects.
6. Festival of the Dreaming (1997 : Sydney, N.S.W.)
7. Sea Change (Festival) (1998)
8. Sports facilities -- New South Wales – Homebush Bay.
9. Conservation of natural resources -- New South Wales -- Homebush Bay.
10. Transportation -- New South Wales -- Sydney.
11. Tourist trade -- Australia.
12. Corporate sponsorship -- Sports -- Australia.
13. Homebush Bay (N.S.W.)
14. Homebush Bay (N.S.W.) -- Environmental conditions.

Information about the project, with links to the catalogue, other sections of the home page and related web sites is also on the National Library’s home page.


The National Library actively encourages people to donate material which relates to the Sydney 2000 Olympics. We want the material on the Sydney 2000 Olympics which is housed in the National Library, to be a national resource which is available to all Australians.

For further information about the project or donations to the collection please contact:

Fiona Carlisle
Australian Deposit
National Library of Australia

Telephone: (02) 6262 1220


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