NLA call for 2016 Federal Election Ephemera

ephemera2What do NLA want?

  • Printed federal election campaign material: leaflets, how-to-vote cards, letters to constituents, stickers, badges or posters. Basically anything printed to promote a party or candidate, or to lobby on election issues like education funding, immigration, marriage equality, taxation, Pistol and Boo…. No item – or issue – is too small!
  • Original published material, rather than photocopies, scans or digital files (they already archive the digital side of the campaign into PANDORA).
  • Material from marginal “swinging” electorates, as well as rural or remote areas of Australia.
  • Material from hotly contested electorates like Indi (Cathy McGowan vs. Sophie Mirabella) or New England (Barnaby Joyce vs. Tony Windsor).
  • Hot tips and recommendations for election-related websites they might digitally archive: pass these on via the PANDORA nomination form.
  • Some election-related satire and a bit of silly stuff (like the 2013 Boney Abbott and Chewlia Gillard dog toys), as well as commercial tie-in product advertising like the Muffin Break “Bean Poll” counter displays.

How can people get it to NLA?

  • Contact NLA to arrange collection/courier (especially for big, delicate or heavy items) on 02 6262 1180 or email Catherine Aldersey at
  • People can also post all the smaller stuff for free using the National Library of Australia’s Reply Paid address:

Ephemera Officer
Printed Australiana – National Library of Australia
Reply Paid 83281

What don’t NLA want?

  • Material for state and local government elections: they refer this to the relevant state or territory library.
  • Photocopies, photographs or digital scans of the material: they want the original stuff!
  • Overly enormous objects or banners.
  • Clippings or adverts cut out of journals and papers which they already collect.

When do they want it?

  • Ideally as soon as possible, but they’re not fussy – some prefer to post it regularly, and others wait until after the election to send it all at once. The Reply Paid address will be in operation for a while after the election.
  • Even though it is produced in vast quantities during a campaign, this material is quickly discarded or recycled. NLA worry that if they do not collect as it is produced then they may not have an opportunity to go back and collect it later.

What about ephemera from past federal elections?

They’re still interested – yes please! National Library of Australia are always looking to fill gaps in their collection. They’re experts at dating material and differentiating different elections.

Why do they want it, and what do they do with it all?

  • The Library are keen to ensure a permanent documentary record of Australia’s political history is publicly available: despite being quite annoying during the campaign, this material is important primary documentation that provides a unique perspective into Australia’s political landscape and social life.
  • The Library gathers and preserves printed election campaign materials for every Australian federal election, and their huge collection dates back to Federation in 1901!
  • Anyone can request Federal election ephemera and Federal election broadsides and posters for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room.
  • It is used in many ways by many people, including students, historians, journalists, biographers – and sometimes even the politicians themselves.
  • They share any multiple copies of this important material with their colleagues in other Australian libraries and collecting institutions.

Why don’t they just get the parties and politicians to send the NLA their stuff instead?

They do, but parties and politicians are not very reliable. They get very busy during a campaign, and tend not to keep copies of their own material. When the Library ask some are very flattered, and some are highly suspicious, but sadly few actually give it to them.

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