Australian libraries responding to COVID-19

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20 March 2020

COVID-19 continues to affect communities across the nation. Since 4 March 2020, ALIA has responded by taking the following steps.

  • On 11 March, we cancelled our National Conference
  • We created this online space for libraries to share their knowledge, strategies and communications around responding to COVID-19 and we are updating it on a daily basis, and often hourly, basis.
  • We cancelled our ALIA Leadership & Innovation Forums, and asked ALIA Groups to postpone, cancel or run activities via videoconference.
  • We updated the LIS Educators webpage with information on how COVID-19 is affecting LIS students and educators. ALIA has offered special arrangements for Diploma student industry placements. 
  • We negotiated a special copyright agreement with our friends in the book industry - the Australian Publishers Association and Australian Society of Authors - to enable virtual storytimes to be recorded and livestreamed.
  • We have responded to Member requests for collateral such as a special poster (see below for Resources) and phrases in languages other than English.
  • We have communicated with other industry associations and organisations about how to address this crisis.
  • From 19 March, we implemented work-from-home procedures for ALIA employees.

ALIA supports the decision of organisations to close libraries at their discretion to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19, and stresses the importance of the role of libraries in maintaining the welfare of their community and their staff during times of crisis.  ALIA is the peak body, not only for public libraries, but also for school, tertiary and special libraries, all of which face their own particular challenges.

As can be seen below, libraries in the various sectors have responded by:

  • Staying open and providing information to their community on COVID-19
  • Suspending delivery of public library programs, events and outreach services
  • Closing all public spaces and cancelling library programs and events
  • Continuing to deliver online library reference services and maintain access to online resources.

We acknowledge that this is a fast-changing situation, and that circumstances may vary depending on the geographic location and nature of services provided by the library. We encourage libraries to monitor information provided by their local health department.

Read the 20 March message from the ALIA Board.

Read the 27 March message from the ALIA Board.


Creative industry COVID-19 stimulus letter

Alongside more than 30 other cultural institutions and organisations ALIA has cosigned a creative industry COVID-19 stimulus letter addressed to the Hon Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister and the Hon Michael McCormack MP Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Regional Development. The letter calls for a targeted stimulus package to the value of 2% of the $111.7 billion industry as well as a public statement recognising the value of the creative industry to all Australians, and the debilitating impacts of COVID-19 on the arts, cultural and entertainment industries and the creative sector as a whole. The letter can be read here.



ALIA HLA has made the below statement in relation to COVID-19.

ALIA Health Libraries Australia (HLA) ExecutiveStatement of Support to Health Libraries and Health Library Workers

ALIA HLA has also worked with ALIA on a COVID-19 Live Literature Searches webpage


ALIA negotiates special agreement on copyright

18 March 2020

Books Create Australia, the collaboration between the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA), the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has announced a special arrangement for library storytimes during the COVID-19 outbreak. For the duration of the pandemic, virtual storytimes will be sanctioned by an industry agreement. It is the policy of the Boards of the APA and ASA that their members suspend any requirements for copyright permission to be sought, in order to allow libraries to make recording or livestream storytimes so children aren’t denied this important and much-loved service. This policy is temporary and will remain in force whilst COVID-19 remains as a WHO-declared pandemic. For more information see the news release. 

[Update: 23/03/20] This agreement was made specifically with public library programs in mind. Schools are already able to operate online under the Statutory Education Licence.


copyright guidance for libraries during the covid-19 shutdown

As Australia ramps up its isolation policies in response to COVID-19, many libraries and archives are considering what they can do to keep supplying clients after their doors are closed to the public.

The good news is that Australian copyright law gives libraries, archives, museums and galleries clear rights to provide remote access to materials in many circumstances. The Australian Libraries Copyright Committee, of which ALIA is a founder member, has put together this blog post to help all Australian cultural institutions navigate remote supply over the coming months


Special edition of PD postings

ALIA released a special edition of PD Postings to more than 10,500 subscribers full of free learning activities to keep library and information professionals up-to-date and on top of their game during the pandemic. Normally PD Postings is an ALIA Member benefit, but we have made this issue free to read for everyone. The issue contains information on topics including working, learning and teaching from home; online courses; virtual tours; and wellbeing. 


Public Library virtual storytimes

Public libraries are hosting virtual storytimes around the nation.  If you are hosting a virtual storytime please email us a link to

ALIA has created an FAQ on virtual storytimes

State/Territory LOCATION LINK
ACT Libraries ACT Online storytime
NSW Bathurst Library Virtual storytime 
NSW Cessnock City Library Virtual storytime 
NSW City of Parramatta  Story time-now online 
NSW Cumberland Library Service Virtual storytime 
NSW Macquarie Regional Library Virtual storytime 
NSW Mosman Library Service Virtual storytime 
NSW State Library of NSW Virtual storytime 
NSW Wagga Wagga City Library The show must go on
NT City of Palmerston Library Virtual storytime 
QLD Bundaberg Library Virtual storytime 
QLD Cassowary Coast Libraries Story time online
QLD Livingstone Shire Library First online storytime 
QLD Lockyer Valley Libraries Virtual storytimes 
QLD  Noosa Library Service Online storytime 
SA Adelaide City Libraries Virtual storytime 
SA  Charles Sturt Library Service Virtual storytime 
SA Hamra Centre Library Virtual storytime 
SA Walkerville Library Baby Bounce online 
VIC City of Melbourne Libraries

Virtual storytime

YouTube link 

VIC Eastern Regional Libraries Storytime Live
VIC Geelong Regional Libraries Your library at home 
VIC HobsonsBay Libraries Virtual storytime 
VIC Hume Libraries Virtual storytime 
VIC  Kingston Libraries Virtual storytime 
VIC Maribyrnong Library Service Maribyrnong Library Service - Story Time Online #1
VIC Maryborough Regional Library Virtual storytime and crafts
VIC Moonee Valley Libraries Toddler time 
VIC West Gippsland Libraries Online storytime 
VIC Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service Facebook live storytime 
WA  Bibdoon Library

Rhyme time

The Wonky Donkey

Edward the Emu

Alpacas with Maracas

WA City of Canning Libraries Virtual storytime 
WA  City of Karratha Libraries  Virtual storytime 
WA City of South Perth Libraries  Digital storytime 
WA Shire of Harvey 

Storytime session 1 

Multi-lingual communication resources

ALIA is working with the IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations Section to develop translated signage and text to support libraries communicating with their linguistically diverse communities, particularly in relation to library closures and accessing online information. These resources are available to download below as a word file. Libraries are welcome to adapt and use this content as best meets their needs to communicate with their community. Translations will be made available in more languages as they are developed.

Albanian Farsi (Dari) Nepali Vietnamese
Amharic (Ethiopian) Farsi (Persian) Polish  
Arabic French Portuguese  
Bulgarian German Romanian  
Bengali (Bangladesh) Greek Serbian  
Catalan Hebrew Spanish  
Chinese (simplified) Hindi Tagalog  
Chinese (traditional) Italian Turkish  
Croatian Japanese Ukrainian  
Dutch Latvian Urdu  

The following resources may also be useful for developing multilingual communications:


How libraries are responding to COVID-19

This section has been moved to a new page, which can be accessed here.


COVID-19 Information and resources

This section has been moved to a new page, which can be accessed here.


online security and safety

During a time where many people are now working from home, and organisations are delivering online services and events, online security and safety consideration continues to be an important factor in library and information work.

One such risk is the growing occurrence of nuisance activity on video teleconferencing platforms, often referred to as “zoombombing”, as the main platform affected is Zoom. Schools and public libraries who are using these platforms to stream online events and classrooms to groups should be aware of the risks, especially as there have been incidences of strangers broadcasting offensive material through these channels. The following articles outline the issue, and provide strategies for preventing this online behaviour.

ALIA uses GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar as its videoconferencing platform, which has the same controls as Zoom to safeguard its meetings.

There are also other privacy and online security issues that professionals working from home should consider, especially when managing and communicating confidential information related to business activity. Here is a useful overview with some important considerations:



Library books carry similar risks to any other surface which comes into contact with the COVID-19 virus. US researchers from a number of specialist centres in American universities found that the Covid-19 virus can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard: "We found that viable virus could be detected in aerosols up to 3 hours post aerosolization, up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel." Another study recently published in the Journal of Hospital Infection (March 2020) has also found that various coronaviruses linked to COVID-19 can persist on surfaces, including paper, metal and glass, for 4-5 days, and can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces for up to 9 days.

Library users should be encouraged to follow good hygiene practices, especially thorough hand-washing, when handling books or any shared objects in the library. Library staff should be sanitising surfaces such as table tops, handles and PC keyboards regularly.

Virtual Reality (VR) headsets have also been flagged as a risk. Libraries may wish to postpone this service for the time being.


This page is accurate as of 31 March 2020 and will be updated regularly.