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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Australian library may catalogue internet porn
Internet pornography site
The information will be tightly controlled
The Australian national library in Canberra is considering downloading the contents of pornographic websites as part of its electronic collection.

The idea behind the scheme is to give a representative picture of the Australian internet, in all its forms, for posterity.


Only bone fide researchers who come into the National Library of Australia building will be able to access them on a single PC in a room away from other readers

Margaret Phillips
Digital library manager
The archive would be available to future researchers keen to get a glimpse of what Australia was like at the turn of the 21st century.

The manager of the digital library at the National Library of Australia, Margaret Phillips, says it is the first national library in the world to consider making such a catalogue.

Ms Phillips explained to the BBC's World Today programme why her institution was considering such a controversial move.

"We want in our digital archive to represent the Australian internet domain as it is in this particular point in time and we want to capture the best and the worst of it, and everything in between," she said.

Limited access

But she was keen to stress that there will be tight restrictions on access to the archive to ensure it is reserved for the serious researcher - not members of the public seeking titillation.


As far as I know the National Library of Australia is the only one considering collecting erotic material to date

Margaret Phillips

"Most of the sites that are in our Pandora archive, which is the name of our digital archive, are available to anybody, they are on the open web. Anyone in Australia or anywhere else in the world for that matter can gain access to them," Ms Phillips said.

"But that won't be the case with this category of material. It will be a restricted part of the archive and only bone fide researchers who come into the National Library of Australia building will be able to access them on a single PC in a room away from other readers," she added.

Paedophilia ban

Nor will the library contain any of the paedophile web sites that are available on the internet.

"We won't be including those sites because they are illegal publications and the national library does not include illegal publications, but we will be collecting a representative sample of those sites that are legal," Ms Phillips said.

Ms Phillips said the plan by the Australian national library was at the forefront of digital archiving.

"There are only a handful of national libraries around the world that are collecting internet publications and of the ones that are collecting selectively as far as I know the National Library of Australia is the only one considering collecting erotic material to date," she said.

Although she did say that the Swedish national library and those in some other Nordic countries are gathering material for a complete snapshot of their web domains which could contain pornography.

"By default they would be collecting this material... but whether they are giving access to it or not, I don't know," she said.

See also:

15 Aug 02 | England
14 May 02 | UK
26 Mar 02 | Americas
28 Mar 01 | Business
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