Understanding soft power discourse in the National Library of Australia

Emilia C. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)



This paper presents research that sought to understand how the National Library of Australia engages with soft power in its Annual Report 2019–20. Driving the analysis was the research question: How is soft power discourse reproduced and enacted in the National Library of Australia's Annual Report 2019–20? The research recognises the significance of Australia's soft power, cultural diplomacy, and regional relationships to national interest in the context of a library's contributions to these areas.


The study employs a qualitative discourse analysis, with constructivist and interpretivist perspectives. A critical discourse analysis was undertaken that applied a discourse-historical approach.


The findings suggest that the National Library of Australia primarily engages with soft power discourse through the construction and preservation of an Australian national identity. National identity is framed as key to the Library's collection development, with Australian knowledge prioritised.


This study extends on research addressing the roles of galleries, archives, and museums in cultural diplomacy, but rarely examines soft power and libraries explicitly or in a contemporary context. It contributes to broader understandings of libraries in international relations and the role they can play in soft power attraction and cultural diplomacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1457-1475
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number6
Early online date08 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 04 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


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