The History of AARLIN and Australian Academic & Research Libraries

Australian academia has a focus on research like few other western societies. Naturally, this has resulted in various attempts from the Australian government, as well as from Australian universities, to streamline the research process for both students and academics alike. In this article, we will explore the history of research in AU, from the creation of AARLIN (the Australian Academic Research Library Network), to AARLIN’s shut-down, to the current state of academic research in Australia today.
AARLIN: Australia’s Attempt at a Centralized Research Platform

The AARLIN was an attempt by various AU universities to create a nationally available virtual library that was supposed to allow academic researchers to access prominent university’s library collections. By aggregating the collections of notable research libraries and into one centralized research platform, AARLIN was supposed to greatly streamline the academic research process.

AARLIN was developed and funded in late 1999 by the Australian Research Council (ARC) with a grant of $250,000, after being spearheaded by La Trobe University. Later, the National Library of Australia, in conjunction with nineteen Australian university libraries, would contribute an extra $150,000 to AARLIN. It also received $2.8 million from the DEST Systemic Infrastructure Initiative from the years 2002-2004, in order to implement the AARLIN framework into the libraries of AARLIN-participant libraries.

In December 2010, AARLIN was shut down, with AARLIN-participant libraries choosing to move on to house their research either as a part of in-house library search systems, or on vendor hosting platforms (such as JSTOR).

Academic Research in Australia Post-AARLIN

It is important to note before continuing any further just how imperative research is to Australian academia. In most other western societies, especially in the EU and U.S., the main emphases are on teaching and learning. The ability of professors to teach students, and the ability of students to graduate having learned a significant amount from their professors, is prioritized over professor-driven or student-driven research in these societies.

This is not necessarily the case, in which research is the prioritized part of the academic learning process. In Australia, both students and professors are highly encouraged to make research the focus of their academic careers. This also means that, in order to prevent students from using devices such as an essay writing service in Australia, devices or frameworks that allow research data to be aggregated and easily accessed are necessary.

For the first decade of the 200s, this framework was provided in the shape of AARLIN. It was created a time when the need for a centralized research platform was at its highest, and it was the most efficient way for AU research libraries to share their collections on one easily accessible platform.

The need for a service such as AARLIN, however, significantly decreased over the course of the 2000s due to the increased ability of research libraries to simply house their collections online. Additionally, vendor hosted data and research collections, such as JSTOR, further removed the need for an expensive, high-maintenance framework such as AARLIN. This meant that, by 2010 when AARLIN was disbanded, the services it provided were mostly obsolete.

Despite it’s eventual shut-down due to its obsolescence, there is no doubt that during the time it existed, AARLIN was an invaluable resource for any and all academic research. For its significant role in streamlining researching processes in one of the West’s most advanced research countries, AARLIN should be remembered as an important program in the history of academic research.