Libraries identified in National Cabinet’s COVID-19 plan

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made a statement today, 8 May 2020, regarding services which could start to re-open under a three step plan. In this statement he mentioned libraries, alongside community centres and playgrounds, as services that may be reopened as part of Step 1.

ALIA CEO Sue McKerracher commented, ‘It is good to see libraries named in the government’s plan. This recognises the loss that has been felt by people coming to terms with limited access to print books, free internet, library spaces, storytimes and other programs which are so valued by communities.

‘Our understanding is that the PM refers to public libraries rather than school, university, TAFE, or special libraries. Of course, libraries will need to make their own decisions about when it is safe to reopen their doors and the extra measures that will need to be taken to protect staff and users’.

Which libraries open, and when, will vary, depending on the decision of state, territory, and local government, based on location and risk factors. To support public libraries, ALIA has created the following strategic checklist to assist with preparing a considered and responsible plan to reopen libraries as part of Step 1. ALIA, with input from the ALIA Australian Public Library Alliance, has also created an interim report, which summarises feedback from more than 200 public libraries.

ALIA is also preparing a campaign themed, ‘We’re back! Tell us how you missed us’, which will be available on Thursday 14 May, with graphics and other collateral for libraries to download from the ALIA website.


State and territory government announcements on reopening libraries:

  • Australian Capital Territory: From 18 May, Dickson, Gungahlin and Woden public libraries to open from 10am-5:30pm with a one person per 4 sqm rule in place. Reservations can be collected from these branches. Visits to be under 30 minutes, and no sitting down unless they have pre-booked one of the 30-minute computers.
  • New South Wales: for now, NSW will maintain a ban on regional travel and keep libraries and community centres closed.
  • Northern Territory Government roadmap: public libraries to reopen at noon 15 May. No groups of more than 10 people allowed, 1.5m physical distancing is still required. Limit of two hours.
  • Queensland: can open from 15 May, only 10 people allowed inside at one time, also ensuring social distancing and hygiene measures.
  • South Australia: can open from 11 May, max 10 patrons, but must have no more than 1 person per 4 sqm on site, including staff. No food or beverages. Staff must keep records of attendees.
  • Tasmania: can open from 18 May, maximum 20 patrons, but must have no more than 1 patron per 4sqm.
  • Victoria: public libraries remain closed. Libraries can be used solely as a venue for essential services or support group with 10 people (as per guidelines for community centres).
  • Western Australia: can open from 18 May, maximum 20 patrons, but must have no more than 1 patron per 4sqm.



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.

Contact: Karolina Firman, Communications Officer.


Friday 08 May 2020 3:45pm