Think global, act local


United Nations 2030 Agenda and libraries

The agenda is a framework of 17 Sustainable Development Goals which span economic, environmental and social development. Libraries are key institutions to help achieve the goals.

Public access to information enables people to make informed decisions that can improve their lives. Access to information has been recognised in the SDGs under Goal 16. The target is 16.10: Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements

Libraries provide information and ICT infrastructure, helping people develop the capacity to use information effectively and preserve information to ensure ongoing access for future generations. They provide an established, trusted network that can reach out to the population.

Libraries and access to information contribute to improved outcomes in the SDGs by: promoting literacy, including digital literacy; closing gaps in information needs, providing delivery sites for Government programs and services, advancing digital inclusion by providing ICT; serving the research and academic community; and preserving culture and heritage.

While the SDGs are universal goals, each country will be responsible for developing and implementing national strategies to achieve them and will be expected to track and report progress. As these national plans are developed, libraries stand ready to serve as partners to help meet the goals.

What is ALIA doing?

Download Australian libraries support the Sustainable Development Goals.

ALIA is already in discussions with the Federal Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) about libraries:

  • supporting the freedom of access to information outcomes;
  • providing examples of success, which can be used as part of Australia’s reporting; and
  • helping to communicate the 2030 agenda to the general population.

The ALIA Members approved an addition to the Constitution at the AGM in May, 2017. A new Object related to the Sustainable Development Goals has been added. Read more

ALIA has also has signed an international advocacy agreement with IFLA. By signing the agreement with IFLA, ALIA has committed to carry on advocacy work on how libraries are helping Australia, and the rest of the UN Member States, achieve the SDGs.       

March 2018

Closing date for contributions to the Australian Government Senate Inquiry into the UN Sustainable Development Goals - ALIA provided the Australian libraries support the Sustainable Development Goals report together with a submission ending: 

We recommend that the importance of libraries in delivering the SDG be acknowledged within the committee’s report, opening the way for further partnerships with government, academia and civil society, to progress the 2030 Agenda.

We also ask the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee to consider and comment on the potential for libraries to be SDG awareness and information hubs, promoting the global goals to people of all ages, in communities across the nation.

Australia has more than 1500 public library branches and mobile libraries, with 9.3 million registered members and more than 113 million customer visits each year. In addition, we have some 9,000 school libraries, 450 university and TAFE libraries, 2100 special libraries, and flagship National, State and Territory Libraries. The National Library of Australia’s Trove platform is the fourth most visited Australian Government website.

This level of engagement with people living in Australia gives us tremendous reach as a trusted information source, and is an excellent fit with the aims of the SDG.

ALIA also drafted Blue Shield Australia's submission to the Senate Inquiry asking:

That the Inquiry committee recommend that the Australian Government actively pursue the legislation which would allow it to adopt the 1954 Hague Convention Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict First and Second Protocols, as a symbol of the nation’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to target 11.4 in particular.

ALIA's CEO represented the Association at the second, invitation-only Australian Sustainable Development Goals Summit, on 13 March, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Some 250 leaders from governments, academia, businesses and civil society gathered to discuss the nation's ambitions in relation to the SDGs and to discuss strategies for addressing the challenges facing Australia. A news report about libraries and the SDGs was published after the event.

January 2018

ALIA published a report Australian libraries support the Sustainable Development Goals, containing case studies from every state and territory.  The report was provided to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for consideration and possible inclusion of some of the content in Australia's first Voluntary National Review, to be launched in New York, in July 2018.

November 2017

ALIA CEO presented on the topic to delegates at the SWITCH conference in Penrith, NSW, and the APO Forum in Melbourne, VIC.


ALIA announced that it would be hosting a Sustainable Development Goals Summit alongside the Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference, at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, on Sunday 29 July 2018. Read the announcement release here.

JULY 2017

ALIA supported a team from Victorian public libraries with their project Share your stories with the world. The report showcases examples of how public libraries around Victoria are delivering programs that connect with the Sustainable Development Goals. Download and view the document here.

ALIA and the Australian Public Library Alliance put together a simple three-step way for public libraries to show leadership. Download the document here and view the associated survey here.

MAY 2017

IFLA update

Download IFLA report 

Australia is featured in the international update for libraries. This compilation includes activities reported to IFLA by participants from the four regions (Africa, Asia Oceania, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean) before the end of May 2017. 

How public libraries contribute to the STEM agenda

Download report 

This document relates to Goal 5 Target B: Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.

The STEAM into Sydney conference took place on 16 and 17 March, 2017, alongside the IFLA Public Libraries Section mid-term meeting. Organised by Section Chair, Marian Morgan-Bindon, and Secretary/Information Coordinator, Jan Richards, the event was booked out within a couple of hours, demonstrating the strength of interest in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics agenda across the globe. Determined to make the most of the stories generated through the conference presentations, Jan and Marian worked with ALIA to produce a summary, How public libraries contribute to the STEM agenda.

The report is the first Australian publication specifically designed to show the impact of libraries in contributing to the UN 2030 Agenda.  The report has been shared with the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of the Arts. 

MARCH 2017

We were pleased to host a presentation about the Sustainable Development Goals at ALIA House on 23 March, for members of Professions Australia. Speakers were Jennefer Nicholson, former IFLA Secretary General, and Sean Batten, Director, Global Development Policy, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. There were representatives from the Australian Medical Council, Engineers Australia, Speech Patholog Australia, Australasian Veterinary Boards Council, Australian Property Institute, Australian Computer Society, Surveying and Spacial Sciences Institute, Universities Australia, National Archives of Australia, and senior library leaders.

Pictured left to right: ALIA President Patricia Genat, Professions Australia CEO Liz Lang, Jennefer Nicholson, Sean Batten and Gail Mulcair, Board Member, Professions Australia, CEO, Speech Pathology Australia.


IFLA published the first report of the International Advocacy Programme, featuring ALIA activities in Australia. Download and view the report here.


UN Sustainable Development Goals 

IFLA survey on UN Sustainable Development Goals 

Read more about IFLA and SDGs