ALIA Blog: Supporting Australia's cultural and arts sectors 

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) took the opportunity to make a submission to inquiry into the Australian Government’s National Cultural Policy Revive: a place for every story, a story for every place. The submission highlighted the critical role of libraries in supporting Australia’s cultural and arts sectors, welcomed the significant and strategic investment in the Policy, and outlined further areas where libraries can support growth and where further action is needed.

You can read the full submission here

The Australian library sector nurtures creators and public engagement with arts and culture. Libraries ensure that Australian stories support the curriculum, preserve and provide access to Australia’s history and provide a community space where everyone is welcome to enjoy and build culture and knowledge. Even during the COVID restricted 2020-2021, in just the public library sector Australians borrowed more than 100 million physical books, and almost 50 million digital items. Public library staff answered more than 6 million inquiries, and 3.9 million people attended programs, from storytimes through to author-led bookclubs. 1 Millions more Australians accessed some of the more than 6 billion digital items from the collections of hundreds of Trove Partners from across Australia, from the Mount Gambier Library through to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

Revive delivers important immediate reforms and lays a solid foundation for further development to grow and sustain Australia as a cultural nation. Key areas to celebrate for the library sector included the long-awaited reforms to lending rights and the funding to establish Writer’s Australia.  ALIA also welcomed the commitment that “Cultural infrastructure, including galleries, venues, theatres, libraries, museums, archives and digital collections, is restored, built and maintained.”

Key areas ALIA highlighted for further work included: 

 First Nations First

  • Working with libraries and other collecting agencies to improve First Nations access, including through ongoing funding of key discovery portals such as Trove.
  • Working with First Nations communities and educators to improve the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who undertake education and training in LIS.
  • Progressing the work needed for safe, respectful and appropriate preservation and access, sovereignty, cultural safety, right of reply and discoverability, including First-Nations led work progressing sovereignty, cultural safety, truth-telling, right of reply, Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP), and discoverability.

A Place for Every Story

  • Supporting book industry efforts aimed at strengthening Australia as a Reading Nation
  • Ensuring children have equitable access to school libraries

Strong Cultural Infrastructure

  • Further investment of resources to ensure that Australia’s cultural infrastructure is retained and strengthened so that Australian stories continue to be heard, shared and preserved.

Engaging the Audience

  • Progress toward a National Media Literacy Strategy
  • Support for libraries’ work to support literacy, especially for groups facing barriers to literacy.