Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the June 2020 update to Trove

Can I access the previous version of Trove? 

It is not possible to give visitors access to the previous version of Trove, or both interfaces at once. The main reason for this is that new features in Trove are not compatible with how the previous version was built. These features include the new home and landing pages, partner Collection Features, all new Trove list functionality and Trove account functions like privacy settings, access to full text correction history and “compare” functionality to track text correction progress.  

Even if visitors did not want to access their Trove accounts, lists or any new pages, running two versions would increase the risk of Trove becoming unstable and unresponsive. During short periods where both versions were available (during the Preview in February 2020 and late June 2020 just prior to launch), Trove needed high levels of monitoring by the IT team that cannot be sustained long-term. 

Trove is a network of large, multi-format databases, indexes and multiple APIs that deliver many kinds of content though different screen readers/viewers. It’s much more than a standard website that delivers only digitised newspaper articles. 

Trove didn’t seem broken before, so why change? 

Trove launched in 2009 and has grown considerably in size and visitor numbers since. Today, we deliver millions more digitised, full-text items, and in more formats, than we did at launch. Web technology ages quickly and Trove’s systems were costly to maintain and struggling to keep up with demand. It has taken considerable work behind the scenes at the National Library to keep everything running smoothly. 

We couldn’t guarantee consistent access to Trove in the long term in its previous form and needed to change before these problems became systemic and caused ongoing long-term problems for people wanting to conduct research using Trove. 

One aim of the redesign of Trove was to modernise the underlying architecture and technology. These changes meant that retiring the previous version of Trove was not just a choice, but a necessity to ensure Trove remained flexible, scalable, sustainable and secure.

What are some new features in Trove? 

If you’re a focused newspapers researcher, you may not have noticed all the new features in Trove. This is because the content in Trove, including digitised newspapers, is the same as the previous version. Some new features, as requested by our community over many years, are: 

  • List functionality – including the ability to follow your favourite lists, see which lists are popular (“trending”) and create Collaborative lists that you can request to join and work on with other Trove account holders;  

  • Customisable account settings, so you decide which information to share with other users and can access more information about your activities on Trove in your own account; 

  • Collection Features that showcase themed collections shared with Trove by Australian organisations; 

  • Redesigned homepage and landing pages with dynamic content about what you can do in Trove, and new items and collections. 

  • Item records that prioritise what people can do - I.e. Read, Listen, Borrow, Cite or Buy. 

  • New categories dedicated to online, digitised content of similar types, i.e: Newspapers & Gazettes, and Magazines & Newsletters. 

To see more, go for a spin around our homepage and landing pages, search in a different category or read some of our new articles. 

Do filters work differently since the June update? 

We have had some comments about the filters on the right-hand side of search results screens under Refine your results. These include that you cannot select more than one of each type of filter at a time, and that titles do not appear alphabetically, but rather according to how many results are found in each title. Both these behaviours are consistent with previous versions of Trove. The only filter you could previously select multiple options for – in basic searches – is Category, and this is still possible. 

If you would like to search multiple places of publication, or titles, in the one search screen – this can be done in advanced search in the Titles and places filter. Alternatively, you can right click on a filter in basic search, open it in a new tab, and do this for multiple filters to get (for example) all search results from articles published in New South Wales in one tab, and all articles from Victoria in a separate tab.  

The Title filter provides an overview of the results. For example, if you search for a term and South Australian titles are at the top of the filter in search results, that gives you extra context.  If titles were instead listed alphabetically, it is likely that same titles will always appear at the top of the list and not accurately represent where the bulk of your search results are. Titles are, however, listed alphabetically under state in the Titles and places filter in advanced search.

The update of Trove is very different to the previous system - why couldn’t you upgrade gradually? 

The technology used to build Trove more than 10 years ago didn’t allow for progressive changes without the risk of a major outage.  

Ideally, we would have made changes gradually but this was not possible within the constraints of the old version.  It is with the updated version, so this scale of change will not happen in the near future.  

An example of how restrictive the old system was, you may have noticed we couldn't easily publish news and information about Trove on Trove. This was one of the many features we have built into the updated version – you can now choose to keep in touch with new content, new search tips and new research discoveries. 

Was there user testing of this version of Trove? 

Yes - Trove has run multiple rounds of user testing since 2017.  This included: 

  • Focus groups with current and prospective users of Trove – seeking feedback on people’s thoughts and usage of the previous version of Trove, and possible new designs; 
  • Work with independent companies to “map” Trove content and test the pathways people used to access items; 
  • Multiple online public surveys – topics included how people access digitised materials, feedback on new designs, and usability of Trove following our Beta release. 
  • In person, 1-on-1, testing of new Trove prototypes with both experienced and novice Trove users; 
  • In person and online consultation with First Australians communities and a Trove Community of Practice – with representatives from the genealogy, academic, and GLAM sectors; 
  • Accessibility testing of the new design with Vision Australia; 
  • Trove Testers online group – promoted through our social media channels, we had 500+ people sign-up to receive invitations for online A/B testing and card sort activities; 
  • Final “bug” reports and usability testing with the general public during the Trove Preview in February 2020; 
  • Informal feedback through conference booths, public presentations and small follow-up surveys from workshops and training.

Questions on Trove accessibility

Why is there more white space and scrolling required on Trove pages since the June update? 

Our user testing strongly indicated many people found the previous version of Trove to be visually confusing and difficult to navigate. When creating the new design, more spacing was added to simplify pathways and account for the different ways people process information. 

The amount of white space and scrolling on Trove’s pages is in line with modern web design practices and other websites that provide similar services to Trove. Accessibility testing of the new design was done to ensure it met standard criteria as an Australian Government website.  

What do you mean when you say Trove is accessible?

The new design of Trove meets required accessibility criteria – colour contrast of elements (font/background/images) is suitable for people with visual impairment, pages can be navigated with either a keyboard or mouse, files can be downloaded in a variety of formats and images have suitable text descriptions for screen reader software. Trove meets more WCAG web accessibility criteria after the June upgrade. 

Your internet browser can also further change settings such as colour contrast, screen/cursor size and font type/size, so Trove no longer needs to duplicate these functions. 

Trove’s design has also considered the needs of neurodiverse people and those with different ways of processing information. Screens are less text heavy, contain images and icons to convey some information and overall aim to minimise visual “noise”. Work in this area could always be improved, but it is important that Australians of all ages and backgrounds feel encouraged to explore the site.

Training and general questions

Will you always be offering training on how to use Trove?

We want everyone to feel they’re capable of learning how to use Trove.  Training sessions have always been a very popular request 

The Trove team is aware of many organisations who have run their own Trove training sessions for years. Our small team cannot respond to frequent requests for in person training, but recent improvements in online webinar software have helped. Webinars about Trove have been extremely well attended since the National Library began trialing online learning in early 2018.  

Training sessions conducted in July 2020 were aimed towards visitors who learned to use the previous version of Trove over many years and are now having to adjust their ways of searching and finding content.  

How do I find the permanent URLs for books and other records in Trove?

The URLs in Trove are now simpler and shorter. The length of previous URLs meant item records usually had to have a separate field that contained the item’s permanent link/URL.  

The easiest way to retrieve this information now is to navigate to the item you want, and simply copy the URL in the address bar up to the end of the number after “work/” - for example: or 

All permanent URLs from the previous version of Trove still link to the same records and items, as the Trove team designed them to be persistent identifiers. This means your previously bookmarked permanent URLs all still work.