“To achieve excellence in the provision and promotion of information services to meet the research, teaching and learning needs of the University". 
The Australian National University (ANU) Library has its foundations in the appointment of the first University Librarian, Arthur Leopold Gladstone McDonald (1898–1981) in early 1948 . The importance of the establishment of the ANU Library in the development of the University was such that McDonald was appointed by the Interim Council before any of the professors .
Initially McDonald and several assistants were housed in Ormond College at the University of Melbourne , where they began to form the collection. At the end of 1950 the collection, which had grown to approximately 40, 000 volumes, was transferred to Canberra, to be located in the Canberra Community Hospital and nearby huts . Over the course of the 1950s the collection grew steadily, and by the time of McDonalds retirement 1960 the collection had grown to 150, 000 volumes (excluding pamphlets) .1948 – 1960: Arthur Leopold Gladstone McDonald (1898–1981)
1960 – 1972: J. J. Graneek
1974 – 1980: M.G. Simms
1980 – 2002: Colin Steele
2003 – 2011: V.G. Elliott
2011 – Present: Roxanne Missingham
The ANU Library collection is housed in 5 specialised library branches.
The Art and Music Library, located in the School of Art, services both the School of Art and School of Music. It is the principal fine arts library at the ANU, and holds material on visual arts in many formats including: books, exhibition catalogues, videos, CD Roms, DVDs, slides (more than 70,000 35mm slides), journals and magazines. The ANU’s music collections are also held in this library; material is held in many formats, including: performance scores, CDs, LPs, books, collected works, journals and electronic databases.
The Library also provides free membership to Visual Arts Access & Open School of Music students.
ACT schools and incorporated musical groups may borrow orchestral and choral sets for a fee.
The Chifley Library contains the main ANU social sciences and humanities collections relating to Australia, Europe and the Americas, as well as the Reserve Area for the social sciences and humanities. Principal subject areas covered include: Economics, Education, Fine Art, History, Languages, Linguistics, Literature, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, Sociology, Women's Studies and Official Documents.
The Hancock Library houses the principal ANU science collections, in over 900 current serials and over 200,000 monographs. The main subject areas covered include: General science, history and philosophy of science, science policy; the mathematical and computing sciences; psychology; biological sciences; environmental science; forestry; geography; geology; and engineering and technology.
The Law Library, located in the ANU College of Law provides a wide range of legal resources for staff and students . The law collection houses statutes and case law from every Australian jurisdiction and several commonwealth countries. Special emphasis has been given to public and international law in the collection.
The collections in the Menzies Library supports Asia Pacific studies in the fields of history, anthropology, politics and international relations, literature and language, religion and philosophy. The Library's holdings of Asian scholarly materials are considered to be the most comprehensive among Australian university libraries and are well compared internationally. In addition, the Menzies Library together with the ANU Archives constitute a major resource centre for Pacific studies.
ANU rare books and special collections are housed in a closed access collection held in the Rare Book Room in the R. G. Menzies Building. Notable special collections include:Petr Herel collection of Artists' Books and Limited Editions Portfolios: contains works created in the Graphic Investigation Workshop (1978–1998) at the Canberra School of Art;
Mortlake Collection: ten thousand volumes of nineteenth century English literature, particularly strong in yellow-backs, 'sensation novels' published by Minerva Press, Gothic novels and in children's literature;
La Nauze Collection: over 500 volumes on political economy, containing many early works in this field including a first edition of Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776;
Joseph Needham Collection: a small collection of Chinese books and serials on mathematics and physics is located in the Hancock Library.
Kapper Collection: approximately 1250 volumes reflects the selection available on the shelves of a small town Australian bookshop about 50 years ago.
Kohler Collection: Edwardian novels.
The ANU Archives preserves the university's own archives and collects archives of business, trade unions, professional associations and industry bodies, to support research by the University community and the general public.
It collects in two areas, the University Archives and the Noel Butlin Archives Centre.
The University Archives hold a range of material dating from the late 1920s relating to the history of The Australian National University. This material is available under a 30-year rule (progressing to a 20-year rule by 2021) which means that records up to the mid-1980s can be generally used for research. The collection includes minutes of the ANU Council and other University committees, correspondence files, photographs, plans, and publications such as annual reports and the ANU Reporter. The papers of academic and senior staff of the University and University organisations are also part of the University Archives. The acquisition of material is governed by a collecting policy.
The Noel Butlin Archives Centre (NBAC) collects business and labour records from Australian companies, trade unions, industry bodies and professional organisations. We are a national organisation interested in material from all states and territories. The NBAC holds the records of large companies such as the Australian Agricultural Company, Burns Philip, CSR Ltd, Dalgety's,Tooth and Company and the Adelaide Steamship Company as well as those of smaller businesses such as pastoral stations. We hold records of federally registered trade unions and their predecessors, and of peak councils such as the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the National Farmers Federation. The records date from the 1820s to the early 21st century and include files, photographs, minutes of meetings, some staff and membership records, maps and plans, and publications such as trade journals and union newsletters. Some material may be closed because it is very recent or the owners' permission may be required before it can be used.
The collection supports research on topics such as industrial relations, immigration, working women, indigenous employment, architecture, economic history, family history, social history in Australia and the Pacific, and on particular industries such as agriculture, timber, shipping, mining, brewing, advertising and finance. In addition, the Archives contain the National AIDS Archive Collection, which documents the history of HIV/AIDS education and prevention throughout Australia.
The Noel Butlin Archives collection is divided into the following categories:
Companies, Organisations including trade unions and professional associations, Personal Papers, National AIDS Archive Collection, Maps, Photographs.
The acquisition of material is governed by a collecting policy.
The site, and the collection, received considerable public attention after it was featured by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's station, ABC Local Radio 666AM, in early January 2014, including an online story.