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AustLit is the best source for any question about Australian literature. The database indexes and describes a wide range of Australian literature, both print and electronic information sources. It also makes available selected critical articles and some creative writing in full text. There is also much searchable information on creators, authors, illustrators, publishers and other literary organisations.

In collaboration between eight universities and the National Library, researchers, bibliographers and librarians working around the country gather information about Australian writers and writing, providing authoritative information on, and easy access to, Australian literature. The database is very comprehensively indexed, which allows you to search on a great many different attributes.

Three forms of search are available: simple search, basic search and advanced search.

Simple search

Use the simple search box in the banner for quick searches by title, author or subject. Simple searches may produce some unwanted results (or 'noise') as they are not exact or finely tuned searches but will often be the best option if you are after quick information on an author or title. Simple search searches across the entire Gateway database.

Basic search

The basic search screen is very flexible and makes it possible to search by any combination of the following attributes:

  • subsets of the data (eg. works by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander writers) from drop-down lists
  • author or other creative contributor (eg. illustrator)
    • tick 'exact' in the box on the right to retrieve an exact match
    • if unsure of a name or the spelling use '!' before the word for a fuzzy logic match or
    • replace groups of letters with '*' either as a wildcard within the word or to truncate the term; for example:
      • 'Woo*loo' will find Woolloomooloo
      • 'Ander*n' will find Anderson and Andersen
      • 'Crim*' will find crime, criminals, criminality
  • title can also be searched exactly or by keyword. Alternate forms of the title are also searched simultaneously
  • type, form and genre can be selected from drop-down lists. A definition of each term can be found by selecting on of the following to the left:
    • type of literature (eg. anthology or newspaper)
    • form (eg. novel or essay)
    • genre (eg. fantasy or crime)
  • subject - a hierarchical thesaurus is available either via the toolbar or by selecting 'Browse the Thesaurus' next to the subject box. A tick box on the right enables you to include all narrower terms with any subject;
    Tip: The thesaurus has a limited number of terms. Check for specific terms in the list of enrichment terms (unassigned)
  • date of publication can be either a specific publication date or an era
  • full text - those items available in full text via SETIS (University of Sydney) or Pandora (NLA)

Advanced Search

The advanced search option allows you create your own search screen to search any combination of the standard fields (above) plus the following extra fields. It is very useful for complex queries or unusual field combinations.
For instance, you could search for any male author born in Canberra who specialises in crime novels. Select the relevant parameters by ticking the boxes and it opens a customised screen. (The result is Nicholas Hasluck and T Gurr).

There are two different kinds of interlinked records: Works or Agents. AustLit agents include publishers and other organisations and in some cases have quite detailed information supplied.

  • Works can be searched by:
    • Creator: records a range of creator roles (eg. editor, illustrator)
    • Work title: records the first title under which a work is published
    • Language
    • First line (for poetry)
    • Availability a link to Kinetica - national database run by the National Library of Australia - shows where an item is held. Some items are directly available in full text (see above)
    • Alternative titles: title/s under which the work has also been published
    • Work subjects: including general concepts, places, people, time periods and organisations
    • Work awards: Australian and international literary awards
    • Relationships: to author or publisher series, sequences and other related works
    • Publication history: details of multiple versions (where the content has been changed eg. translations or revised editions etc) and reprints
    • Publication details: place, date and publisher plus URL for online items
    • Contents: individual contents of journals, selected works, anthologies, multi-chapter works and websites
  • Agent entries MAY contain additional information, including a biography, as well as information on:
    • Authority names: the name most commonly used by this author
    • Also known as (aka) names: other names used by this author, including non-writing names or common shortenings of names
    • Also writes as names: pseudonyms and alternative writing names
    • Gender
    • Cultural heritage: cultural heritages publicly identified by authors
    • Awards: for works or for contributions to literary culture
    • Biography: a brief summary of author's life and career
    • Bibliography: summary of works by, and works about, this author

Note: Not all records will include all fields.

Go to AustLit

Last updated 13 May 2011

Page last updated: 23 October 2012