Preparatory work on legislation to establish a statutory authority to administer official archives in New South Wales commenced in 1955. The Archives Bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly in October 1960 and in November the Archives Act, 1960 (Act No. 46 of 1960, received assent. The Act was proclaimed to commence on the 1 June 1961.
The Act established the Archives Authority of New South Wales consisting of nine members appointed by the Governor from such fields as the Judiciary, the Legislature, universities and the Public Service. The Authority functioned as a managing board, with specific responsibility for decisions on the ultimate fate of New South Wales public records, that is their destruction, or retention as State archives.
The Act also provided that the Archives Authority 'shall undertake the preservation, storage, arrangement, repair, cataloguing and calendaring, and have the custody and control, of the State archives and shall have the management of the Archives Office of New South Wales'. Archival work during the 1960s focused on the core responsibilities under the Act: appraisal, arranging and describing the State archives, and providing reference services. The Records Management Office Increasing evidence of poor records management practices in the early 1970s led to the establishment in March 1975 of a Public Service Board Task Force to investigate records management in the New South Wales Public Sector. A Records Management Office (under the Public Service Board) was established in 1976, in accordance with the recommendations of the Task Force.
In July 1977 the Public Service Board transferred the administration of the Kingswood Repository from the Archives Office to the recently established Records Management Office. [Parliamentary Papers v.1 p.257]. In October 1978 an agreement was made with the Public Service Board whereby responsibility for the management of the New South Wales Government Records Repository and the Records Management Office of New South Wales was transferred from the Public Service Board to the Archives Authority.
From its inception the Archives Office was housed in extensions to the Public Library, which included three floors specifically designed to accommodate the new Office. In mid 1976 however, the Archives Office became administratively separate from the State Library and in late 1978, moved with the Records Management Office to the new purpose-built State Archives Building in Sydney's historic Rocks area.
The Government Records Repository was based at Shea's Creek from 1955, but also used leased premises at Yagoona from 1971 to 1979. Land for an out-of-town repository was acquired in 1964, and construction of storage buildings for temporary and permanent records commenced in 1973. Stage 1 (45km, archival standard storage) was opened in November 1975, followed by Stage 2, Phase 1 (15km, temporary records) in 1978, and Stage 2, Phase 2 (60 km, temporary records) in 1983. Additional archival standard storage (39 km, for long-term temporary and permanent records) was provided with the opening of Stage 3 in 1994, along with office and work areas for the Government Records Repository. Interim space (20 km) for temporary records became available in 1995 with the Stage 1 Annex. The Repository's medium-term storage needs are expected to be met by Stage 4 (100+km), due for completion early in 1998. Planning is underway for a major additional archival storage building (Stage 5 - 65km).
In December 1987 the Services Building at the Government Records Repository was officially opened, including a public search room, conference and exhibition facilities, and special vaults. [Ministry for the Arts 1987-88 Annual Report p.27]. While the Authority had always provided a search room service in the City, the year 1987 effectively marked the commencement of a full reference service at the Kingswood site. The processing of records was centralised at Kingswood in July 1995. [NSW Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 1995-96 p.41]
October 1989 saw the establishment of a Subcommittee on Amending the Archives Act [Ministry for the Arts 1989-90 Annual Report p.35], and the process reached drafting stage by 1996.
The Records Management Office and Disposal Services were amalgamated on 4 May 1998 to form Government Recordkeeping.
New recordkeeping legislation in the form of the State Records Act, Act No. 17, 1998 was assented to on 2 June 1998. In preparation for to the proclamation of the Act, the Archives Authority was restructured on 19 October 1998. Preservation Services and Collection Services were combined to become the Archives Control and Management Branch. Reference Services became the Public Access Branch while the activities of Information Management and Technology, Library and Publications were placed in the Corporate Information and Communications Unit. The Systems Unit was abolished and the position of Manager, Special Projects was established. An Executive Unit was created comprising the Principal Archivist, Deputy Principal Archivist, the Executive Assistant, the Manager, Special Projects and the Executive Officer. The structure of the Government Records Repository remained unaltered.
On I January 1999 the State Records Authority of New South Wales was created by the State Records Act, Act No. 17, 1998 and replaced the office of the Archives Authority of New South Wales. The Archives Authority of New South Wales which constituted the controlling Board of the Archives Office was replaced by the Board of the State Records Authority. (3)