Australian works of digital literature will soon be collected and preserved by Canberra’s National Library of Australia (NLA), after new legislation was adopted by Federal Parliament.

Under amended copyright laws, everything from electronic books (e-books) to blogs, prominent websites and important social media messages will be collected to capture a snapshot of Australian life.

Previously, the NLA collected books produced by local publishers through the legal deposit system, but the new amendment allows it to preserve items published on the internet, which could disappear from view in future.

“What we have seen in the last few years is a significant growth in the amount of digital publication... This legislation puts us in a position where we are able to ask publishers to deposit electronic material with the National Library in a comprehensive way,” said Alison Dellit, director of the NLA’s Australian collection management.

The library has been trying to collect material from Australian websites since 1996, building an archive that includes election posts from politicians, and even the official site of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

In order to store billions of pages of new content, the Library is also seeking to expand its data storage facilities.

Ms Dellit said the new legislation would enable a greater level of digital preservation.

“I think its undeniable that a large part of Australian culture is lived out through digital publication, particularly online and through the web,” she said.

“We have whole communities that engage and are able to come together that way.

“A lot of that material is only really available through online publication so we will be able to capture that and give a sense of Australian society as a whole.”

Local firm Escape Publishing puts out about 100 electronic books (e-books) a year, largely in the blossoming romance novel market.

Managing editor Kate Cuthbert said in an interview for the ABC welcomed that better preservation of digital literature would make sure Australian writers are remembered.

“So many of Australia's emerging authors are coming from that digital space, so it will be really great to capture their work from the very beginning, even if they never move in to the print market,” she said.

“E-books are a growth industry, particularly if you are looking at the fiction genre.

“Authors are able to chase a wider audience, perhaps even an international audience so the chances for exposure and finding a niche market are much, much greater in digital.”