Public libraries

Australian Public Library Alliance 

The Australian Public Library Alliance comprises representatives from the state-based public library associations, the territory libraries and LINC Tasmania. APLA advises the ALIA Board on policy for its sector and has a highly active role in shaping our activities and campaigns. 

Australian public library standards, guidelines and outcomes project 2016

Australian Public Library Guidelines Standards and Outcome Measures 2016

These guidelines provide essential benchmarks for library managers, councils and state government. They are accompanied by a benchmarking calculator to enable libraries to assess their performance against the guidelines and standards.

Following a competitive tendering process, Melbourne-based I&J Management Services worked with APLA to develop the Guidelines.  Download the Consultants' Brief and Literature Review. See the Standards and Guidelines section below. Other useful information includes the National and State Libraries of Australasia public library statistics

About APLA

The ALIA Australian Public Library Alliance (APLA) is the peak body for public libraries in Australia. Our committee comprises the chair of every state-based public library association, a senior representative from the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmanian library services, and expert members. We represent 94% of all the 1500 public libraries across Australia through membership subscription.

APLA (or, as it was previously known, the ALIA Public Libraries Advisory Committee) was formed following a highly successful ALIA Public Libraries Summit in July 2009. At the summit, libraries leaders called for, “Australia’s public libraries, united behind common goals and ambitions, sharing best practice, contributing to strong communities, valued by people and government, continuing to provide universal free access to information, knowledge and ideas, and confirming the importance of their role for future generations.” A national alliance, supported by every state and territory, and Public Libraries Australia, was the primary outcome of the summit and was ratified by the signing of a Memorandum of Collaboration in July 2010.

The current members of APLA are:

Australian Library and Information Association Public Libraries SA
Libraries ACT Public Libraries Victoria Network
LINC Tasmania Public Libraries WA
Northern Territory Library Queensland Public Libraries Association
NSW Public Libraries Association  

APLA is chaired by Jan Richards, NSW, and has two expert members - Janice Nitschke, SA, and Karen Ward-Smith, VIC.

Outstanding Achievement Award

A special award was made posthumously to John Murrell on 25 July 2016, recognising his outstanding contribution to public libraries in West Gippsland, in Victoria, and indeed nationally through his roles as CEO of West Gippsland Regional Library Corporation and President of Public Libraries Victoria Network. This is his citation.

APLA initiatives

APLA has many achievements to celebrate following the completion of its National Vision and Framework for Public Libraries, 2010APLA has published a report covering its achievements from 2010 to 2015. 

APLA is currently working on the delivery of its National strategy and action plan 2015-2018.

Standards and guidelines

  • We developed National Standards and Guidelines for Australian Public Libraries, providing essential benchmarks for library managers, councils and state government. These were first published in 2010 and a second edition was published 2012. They were accompanied by a benchmarking calculator for library teams to use to assess their performance against the national standards and guidelines. A new set of Guidelines, Standards and Outcome Measures (see above) was launched on 7 November 2016 at Parliament House, in Canberra.


Reading and literacy


Cybersafety and digital engagement

  • We have highlighted the role of public libraries in ensuring online safety for children and all members of the community, partnering with the Alannah and Madeline and Telstra Foundations to create eSmart Libraries and with the Department of Communications to promote Stay Smart Online.
  • We have contributed to the Telstra Digital Inclusion Index conversation, providing a submission to the discussion paper from September 2015.



  • We have provided submissions to 10 federal government consultations and engaged in discussions with the Ministry for the Arts, Department of Communications and Department of Industry.
  • ALIA produced The Library Agenda, including public library concerns, in the run up to the 2013 federal election.


Book industry engagement


Future thinking - national and international

  • We have developed our vision for the future for public libraries at a national level and promoted this through the ALIA Future of the Profession reports, sharing the insights with colleagues internationally through our involvement with IFLA.


Advocacy, campaigns and communications


Skills and professional recognition

  • We have developed a public library specialisation as part of the ALIA PD Scheme for library and information professionals, and we have created a proficiency scheme for non-library qualified staff working in public libraries. Public library streams at ALIA conferences have provided further opportunities for professional development.


Other activities include the Love2Read free app for Apple devices; the ALIA Library Stars competition, which took place in 2006, 2008 and 2010, providing examples of fantastic programs in public libraries around the country, and the ALIA Internet Access in Public Libraries Survey, carried out in 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2013 

For more information about any of the projects mentioned, email

ALIA support

About public libraries

National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) produces an annual report on public libraries across Australia.  The 2014 -2015 NSLA report showed that there were 1,631 public library service points, 114 million customer visits and 8.2 million registered library members. 

For more information about public libraries, please see the ALIA Future of the Profession reports

Other useful resources