Special libraries comprise government, NGO, health, law, corporate and other libraries that serve departments, institutions or businesses. Increasingly the word library doesn’t appear in the title, instead these are often known as information services or research units, terms which also describe their main purpose and function.
10 ways that libraries power high performance organisations
There are as many as 2,000 special libraries in Australia serving clients in government, health, law, business, banking, consulting, research, science and technology, the arts, media and other industries. The word library doesn’t always appear in the title; instead some are called information services or research units, terms which also describe their main purpose and function.
Special libraries support UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 by providing public access to information about government, civil society and other institutions.
ALIA and special libraries
- Since January 2020, ALIA has been publishing its Special Libraries Directory, with plans to update every 3-4 months. It is currently in its third edition.
- In 2019, we updated the ALIA Guidelines for special libraries. In collaboration with the Australian Government Information Network, ALIA produced the report Not simple, not straightforward and not an instant cost saving and the checklist Closing a government library; we ran a special supplement on special libraries to accompany the May/June issue of INCITE; and we partnered with The Mandarin to run two articles on the role of government libraries: The value in government libraries and Celebrating 45 years of the Australian Institute of Criminology Library.
- In 2018 we produced Guidelines for special libraries experiencing service reviews and this was followed by Guidelines for undertaking a library review.
- In 2017, ALIA hosted a round table for Australian special libraries, with Danish library and allied professionals and produced the 10 ways advocacy kit (above).
- ALIA’s Special Library and Information Services Advisory Committee (SLISAC) and ALIA Health Libraries Advisory Committee provide advice to the Board on special libraries.
- In 2016, SLISAC organised a Special Libraries Summit to work with other stakeholders to identify shared issues and opportunities.
- As an outcome of the Special Libraries Summit, in 2017 ALIA published The unique role and value of information professionals in special libraries.
- The Advisory Committee also manage the aliaSPECIALS elist.
- During 2013, we developed a return on investment study with SGS Economics as a partnership between ALIA Health Libraries Australia, ALLA and Health Libraries Inc.
- ALIA Members are able access library and information science ebooks free of charge.
- We provide research grants for members to explore aspects of library and information science. Our fellowships and awards recognise the achievements of members in all spheres of endeavour.
- We keep our members up to date through ALIA Weekly enewsletter, 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 special 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.
- ALIA Guidelines for Australian Special Libraries (2019)
- ALIA Special Libraries Survey (2010) Snapshot 1, Snapshot 2
- ALIA government libraries prospectus (2012, updated 2018)
- Return on investment of special libraries (2013)
- ALIA Futures report on special libraries (2013)
Government libraries exist across Australia in different government departments on a federal, state and local level. Some government libraries possess special and unique collections and others deal with very specific topics.
Government libraries and ALIA
- In 2018, the Australian Government Libraries Information Network ceased to be its own incorporated body and became an ALIA Group, building on our shared goals for government and special libraries. The official handover took place at the ALIA AGM 20 May 2019.
- In 2012, we campaigned for government libraries in Queensland in the wake of extensive State Government cuts.
10 Ways that Library and Information Services power the Health Sector
Download the 10 ways A4 handout.
Health libraries support UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 - good health and well-being.
Health libraries and ALIA
Health libraries are institutions that are designed to assist health care professionals and researchers in finding health and scientific information to improve, update, assess or evaluate health care.
The vision of ALIA’s Health Libraries Australia national group is that all Australians benefit from health library and information professionals’ expertise that is integral to evidence based health care.
In support of this vision, and in line with ALIA's policy direction and priorities, HLA undertakes strategic initiatives in five key areas (portfolios): Professional development, education and training; Demonstrating value; Partnerships and collaborations; Publishing and communication; Membership. Each of these has a number of activities, all aimed at realising our vision. Please visit the HLA page for details of our activities, including our two regular publications, HLA News and HLA Alerts.
HLA has an active professional development education and training program, providing several significant events each year. Details of forthcoming events are provided on HLA PD page, together with presentations from past events. The specialist Certified Professional (Health) PD Scheme is supported by a competency framework and a courses map to enable our members to maintain their professional qualifications in a 3-year revalidation cycle.
In 2013, we developed a return on investment study for health libraries with SGS Economics as a partnership between ALIA Health Libraries Australia, Health Libraries Inc.:
In 2011 we published the final report of a two year study: Health Librarianship Workforce and Education: Research to Plan the future.