ALIA acknowledges the 10-year anniversary of Black Saturday

On the 10-year anniversary of Black Saturday, Australians will be reflecting on the tragic loss of life, devastation of the landscape and impact on communities of the Victorian bushfires. For our own part, ALIA would like to remember and acknowledge the work of all the library staff and volunteers involved in the recovery activities during 2009–2010.

In August of 2009, ALIA partnered with the Australian Booksellers Association, and the Australian Publishers’ Association, to provide books to people who had been affected by the bushfires through the ALIA Rebuilding with Books initiative. The project included

the State Library of Victoria, the School Library Association of Victoria, the Public Libraries Victoria Network, and the Friends of Libraries Australia.

This initiative culminated in the ‘National Simultaneous Booksale and Fundraising Week’, which ran from 24-31 October 2009. It saw more than 180 pallets of books donated to three relief centres, with 72 volunteers over ten days sorting and distributing more than 27,000 books.

At the time of the disaster, offers of help flooded in from library staff across Australia. The ALIA Disaster Recovery project was set up and Yarra Plenty Regional Library led the initiative, distributing an emergency stock of books for families who had lost everything in the fires.

Numerous libraries were also affected by the fires including but not limited to Eastern Regional Libraries, Wellington Shire Library, and the Latrobe City Library Service.

This demonstrates the significant collaboration between library and GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) organisations at the time. There was also a range of advocacy activities including submissions to commissions of enquiry, the development of a range of useful disaster recovery resources, and checklists for libraries.

In 2019, we encourage all libraries to be involved in May Day 2019. Blue Shield Australia has launched a new Australian logo for the day and campaign information will be updated on the website and social media. The ALIA Guide to Disaster Planning, Response and Recovery for Libraries and the ALIA Disaster Planning for Libraries are currently being updated and will be released during Blue Shield Australia’s 2019 May Day events.  The updating of these resources is being undertaken by Heather Brown (State Library of South Australia /Artlab Australia) and Christine Ianna (State Library of Queensland).

These resources will incorporate the findings from a research project on disaster management for digital and physical collections, which was funded by an ALIA Research Grant. An article on the disaster research project has recently been published in Journal of the Library and Information Association (JALIA).



About the Australian Library and Information Association

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) is the professional organisation for the Australian library and information services sector.

With 5,000 members across Australia, we provide the national voice of the profession in the development, promotion and delivery of quality library and information services, through leadership, advocacy and mutual support.


Karolina Firman, Communications Officer.

Brown, H 2018, ‘Managing disaster preparedness and response for hybrid collections in Australian national and state libraries’ JALIA vol. 67, no. 4, pp.411-433.

A related article in the same issue of JALIA deals with risks to Australian university special collections in the event of disasters.

Garnett, J, Arbon, P, Howard, D & Ingham, V 2018, ‘Do university libraries in Australia actively plan to protect special collections from disaster?’ JALIA vol. 67 no. 4 pp. 434-449.


Thursday 07 February 2019 8:30am