In the context of the appraisal and collection of 20th century Australian literary manuscripts Ayres investigates the holdings of Australian collecting institutions in relation to major writers, publishers, organisations and other facets of the literary world. Particular attention is drawn to Patrick White, literary festivals and awards, drama and children's literature. The limited holdings of manuscripts for women writers and indigenous writers is also noted.
Ayres discusses the development of archival collection in Australia during the 20th century and raises two main concerns for the future. Firstly, the financial willingness of institutions to buy, preserve and intellectually control collections and secondly, the challenges posed by the electronic age to document preservation.