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
These guidelines provide essential benchmarks for library managers, councils and state government.
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.
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 has many achievements to celebrate following the completion of its National Vision and Framework for Public Libraries, 2010. APLA 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 are now in their second edition 2012. They are accompanied by a benchmarking calculator for library teams to use to assess their performance against the national standards and guidelines. A new set of Standards, Guidelines and Outcomes is available in a manuscript version (see above) and the published version will be launched on 7 November 2016 at Parliament House, in Canberra.
Reading and literacy
- We have established public libraries’ position as the ‘active connectors’ for early literacy (you can download the early literacy framework and strategy for Australian public libraries here) and run highly successful campaigns encouraging readers of all ages. Every year we have delivered the Summer Reading Club and National Simultaneous Storytime. Our biggest single activity has been the National Year of Reading in 2012, and from this The Reading Hour has emerged as an annual event.
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
- We have supported the book industry by promoting Australian authors and writing prizes, especially through the Australian Book Industry Awards, and we have tracked libraries’ expansion into ebooks, collaborating on a national level to address the issues around elending with publishers and platform providers. We published a comparison of ebooks and elending in Australian public libraries 2013 v 2014 highlighting the challenges facing the sector and an update report in 2015.
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
- We have run high profile media campaigns around Library Lovers’ Day and Library and Information Week, including Australia's Favourite Library Books. We have published the Little Book of Public Libraries for a broad range of stakeholders and produced regular monthly enewsletters for public library subscribers.
- We have measured the return on investment of public libraries, providing further evidence of their important role and value to their communities.
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 email@example.com.
- We advocate for public libraries at a national, state and local level.
- Our fellowships and awards recognise the achievements of members in all spheres of endeavour.
- We keep our public library members up to date through ALIA Weekly and the Australian Public Library Alliance News enewsletters, INCITE magazine and targeted conference programs.
- Our PD Scheme recognises ongoing learning and our training courses cover topics that are relevant to our members from public libraries.
- There are active ALIA Groups in every state and territory and many opportunities for individual members to participate as volunteers for events and advocacy.
About public libraries
National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) produces an annual report on public libraries across Australia. The 2012-2013 NSLA report showed that there were 1,515 public library service points, 112 million customer visits and 10 million registered library members. Public libraries employed nearly 7,500 staff (FTE) and total expenditure on public libraries was $1.02 billion or the equivalent of $44.44 per Australian.
For more information about public libraries, please see the ALIA Future of the Profession reports.
Other useful resources
- Tomorrow’s Library, 2012, the first report from the Victorian Government review of public libraries in the state.
- People Places A Guide for Public Library Buildings in New South Wales, third edition, 2012, a valuable resource for library managers working on new libraries or redevelopments.
- The Library Dividend, 2012, an assessment of the return on investment of Queensland public libraries.
- Dollars Sense and Public Libraries, 2011, an assessment of the return on investment of Victorian public libraries.
- The Bookends Scenarios, Alternative futures for the Public Library Network in NSW in 2030, 2009, a futurist view of public libraries.
- Enriching Communities: The Value of Public Libraries in New South Wales, 2008, an assessment of the return on investment of New South Wales public libraries.