ALIA Blog: A new purpose statement for ALIA 

At the August 2022 Board meeting the ALIA Board worked together to define ALIA’s purpose.  A clearly defined purpose statement that is understood by all staff and members of ALIA is critical for driving strategy, prioritising activities and demonstrating impact.

 The starting point was ALIA’s Constitution, specifically ALIA’s objects as set out in Rule 3.2.

a) To promote the free flow of information and ideas in the interest of all Australians and a thriving culture, economy, environment and democracy;

b) To promote and improve the services provided by all kinds of library and information agencies;

c) To ensure the high standard of personnel engaged in information provision and foster their professional interests and aspirations;

d) To represent the interests of Members to governments, other organisations and the community;

e) To encourage people to contribute to the improvement of library and information services through support and membership of the Association; and

f) To endorse the principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in response to the many challenges faced by the world today and into the future.

To develop the purpose statement itself the Board then asked itself a number of questions:

  • Why does ALIA exist?  
  • Who or what is the primary beneficiary?
  • What is the benefit created?
  • How is the benefit created?

The Board also considered purpose, mission and vision statements from other library and information associations including LIANZA, ALA and CILIP and analysed their statements based on these questions.

After coming up with a number of possible purpose statements the Board sought feedback from ALIA Members via a survey at the end of 2022. We surveyed a total of 965 people (791 current members) and we asked what you thought of the proposed purpose statement:

“To engage members in promoting and growing a strong, future focused and valued Australian library and information sector to advance a socially just and progressive society.”

We learnt that 64% of current members surveyed thought the statement reflected ALIA’s purpose very well or well. You liked that the statement was future focused and recognised the importance of engaging members. Some respondents didn’t like the reference to a “progressive society” as it sounded too political. You also said that you wanted the statement to include a reference to the core function of libraries in providing access to information. We listened to your feedback and adjusted the wording to remove the reference to a “progressive society” and include a reference to “access to information”.

The ALIA Board is now very pleased to launch ALIA’s purpose statement which we will use to guide our work to ensure we remain focused on strategic priorities.   

“To engage members in promoting a strong, future focused Australian library and information sector to advance access to information for an inclusive and informed society.”