Pressure is mounting on the government to pump money into two of the most prominent national institutions based in Canberra.
The gallery may have to close two days a week because of a funding crisis. Charging for entry is also on the agenda because of a $265 million shortfall over the next 10 years.
The library says the future of its Trove online service "beyond July 2023 will be dependent upon available funds". It said "substantial investment" was needed.
Academics are urging people to campaign against what they say is a lack of funding, particularly for the library's online Trove site where six billion items from old newspapers to pictures and documents can be viewed online.
"It's simple, really. Trove runs out of money in July. No money, no Trove. Write to your local member," historian Frank Bongiorno said on Twitter.
Trove's been described as a "treasure trove" for researchers and anyone who is just plain interested in Australia. It offers people across Australia and around the world a sight online, for example, of newspapers dating back to 1803 as well as a potpourri of fascinating documents reflecting ordinary, but also official, life.
But one academic archivist at the ANU says it's not just a matter of more money. Trove, Mike Jones feels, needs to be rebuilt.
"What is currently a Frankenstein's monster of dead and mouldering technologies and systems needs more than just cosmetic surgery," Dr Jones and Deb Verhoeven from the University of Technology in Sydney wrote in The Conversation. "It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up."
"We believe Trove and the National Library deserve better than ad hoc injections of cash - there's little value in a one-shot dose of vitamins if you are suffering from malnutrition."
Opponents of the $550 million revamp of the Australian War Memorial say the difficulties of the other national institutions in Canberra highlight the imbalance in funding.
Academics echo their concerns. "Our national cultural institutions are threadbare, worn thin by decades of funding cuts, reductions in staff, and disintegrating buildings," Professor Bongiorno wrote in an article co-authored with Michelle Arrow, professor of history at Macquarie University.
The squeeze on public institutions didn't start with the Coalition: "Labor's introduction of so-called 'efficiency dividends' in the late 1980s laid the foundations for the present crisis, but the Coalition inflicted deeper funding cuts over the past decade," Professors Bongiorno and Arrow said.
The squeeze on public institutions didn't start with the Coalition: "Labor's introduction of so-called 'efficiency dividends' in the late 1980s laid the foundations for the present crisis, but the Coalition inflicted deeper funding cuts over the past decade. The Albanese government must act quickly to arrest this destruction of our cultural heritage or otherwise become complicit in it," Professors Bongiorno and Arrow said.
The new federal government promised that it would be developing a national cultural policy "later this year" but the unveiling has now been postponed to 2023.
According to the ABC, the new Arts Minister Tony Burke said the government was "acutely aware" of the pressures facing national cultural institutions.
"We're working through the issues in order to make decisions about future funding," he said.
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