Online Storytime Agreement


Sharing the library Storytime experience. Promoting Australian books and reading

In 2021 ALIA began piloting a scheme where publishers can permit the use of their Australian picture book titles in return for a small annual payment from public library branches.

The pilot follows the popularity of Online Storytime in Australian public libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, where Australian children and caregivers embraced the online reading of picture books by their local librarians with many hundreds uploaded since April 2020.

Australian publishers are invited to opt-in new or backlist titles for the 2021 and 2022 Online Storytime pilot by registering interest via [email protected].  As of 16 September 2021 we have over 330 titles available from 46 publishers and dozens of authors and illustrators. Please contact [email protected] to sign up for the pilot. 

Read the first quarterly report on the pilot

Read the second quarterly report on the pilot

Read the third quarterly report on the pilot 

In July 2021 ALIA received a $30,000 grant from the Australia Council to support its Online Storytime pilot. Following the receipt of this money ALIA has been creating additional benefits for registrants to the scheme such as a series of webinar and workshops to support public librarians to create storytime recordings and a series of newsletters to share news, events, funding opportunities and showcase Online Storytime recordings from across Australia. 

In September 2021 a grant from the Australian Government RISE fund was awarded to the program, recognising the innovative work of librarians who kept communities reading together, even when COVID forced the physical closure of library buildings. Public libraries participating in the program will be eligible for grants to support Online Storytimes, with an emphasis on ensuring that literature is accessible to all children in Australia. First Nations authors and illustrators are also recognised with funding for ALIA to commission new children’s picture books by Indigenous creators. Follow this link for more information and to apply for a community grant

How does the agreement work?

The one-year trial, which is welcomed by the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and managed by ALIA, will distribute an estimated $40,000 to $60,000 (in total) to Australian publishers in 2022 based on an estimated 300 to 400 public library branches taking up an annual $165 (inc GST) subscription. Participating library branches will be able to make short videos of picture book readings to post on social media accounts, such as library branch Facebook groups or administered YouTube channels. Libraries which already have recordings uploaded can transition existing recordings using books from the nominated list, made in 2020, to the new subscription, for a maximum of six months from the initial date of uploading in 2020.

Publishers are invited to put forward titles of Australian picture books. Please send title details to [email protected].

Libraries will pay an annual subscription of $150 + GST for unlimited use of these nominated picture books to make recordings of library storytimes freely available on sharing platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Each recording will be available for a period of up to six months. ALIA will use $25 of the subscription to cover the cost of managing the service. The remaining $125 will be paid to the publishers of the books, and through the publishers to the authors and illustrators. Register your interest at [email protected].

ALIA will provide monthly updates and quarterly reports on recording data (see above to download), update the list of picture books available to public libraries and redistribute the total funds raised through subscription fees to publishers based on a complete data set in early 2022. 

Libraries need a wide range of Australian picture books

ALIA invites publishers to put forward titles of Australian picture books as ALIA needs a good selection books for this scheme to be viable: preferably a well-sorted mix of authors and illustrators, some emerging and some well-known. 

Where possible, Online Storytimes will carry branding for Australia Reads, the joint industry campaign, and publishers can nominate URLs for books and/or authors to be listed by libraries alongside the videos.

The pilot agreement has been reviewed by ALIA and the APA during 2021 to see how well it serves the needs of publishers, libraries, and the community. We are happy to confirm that the pilot will be extended to the end of 2022. It will be reviewed again during 2022. 

Throughout the process ALIA will provide transparency about the books used, the funds received and passed on. We will monitor and report on the usage by libraries each quarter and these reports will be published on the ALIA website.

Any questions or concerns can be directed to [email protected].

Frequently asked questions


Why is it good for storytime users?

It enables libraries to include children and families who can’t come to storytime sessions at libraries, for example, where both parents are working and can’t get to the library, as well as those living in socially disadvantaged areas where transport options are limited but internet access and devices are not, and those in rural and remote areas.

Why is it good for the book industry?

The main benefit for picture book publishers, authors and illustrators and bookshops will be the direct marketing channel to families with young children – but there will also be a useful sum of cash transferred back to publishers and creators from the library subscriptions, and libraries which don't have some of the books in their collection already may well buy them from booksellers.

What branding does a library need to add?

Storytimes will need to carry an opening slide featuring the Australia Reads logo (the joint industry campaign) and acknowledging that permission has been given for the video. A template is available to download from the ALIA website - click on the image to link to the PowerPoint. Publishers will also nominate URLs for books and/or authors to be listed by libraries alongside the videos.

How long is the pilot program?

This is a 24-month pilot program, from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2022. Subscriptions are open for libraries in 2022. Contact [email protected]

Why a payment per library branch rather than per service?

The largest library service in Australia has more than 30 branches, the smallest only one. We have priced it per library branch to make it more affordable for all.

Why are recordings only put up for six months, not 12 months?

Publishers prefer this shorter timescale for the pilot program.

How do we know who uses which books?

ALIA will provide full transparency about the books used, the funds received and passed on. ALIA will monitor and report on the usage by libraries each quarter. These reports will be published on the ALIA website.

When will publishers be paid?

There will be an annual payment. This will be made in January 2022, to account for the subscriptions and usage in the previous 12 months.

How will authors and illustrators be paid?

Publishers will make payments to the creators based on their own contract arrangements.

What about recordings made during the COVID-19 lockdown?

Libraries can transition existing recordings using books from the nominated list, made in 2020, to the new subscription, for a maximum of six months from the date of this agreement, for recordings produced by libraries during 2020, and six months from the date the recording is first posted to a sharing platform, for those made after the date of this agreement.

Can libraries make Auslan versions of storytime videos?

Yes, publishers have agreed that permissions cover a presenter signing the book in Auslan, with featured signs and words in English, alongside the visible text. 

What happens to copyright?

The copyright in the publications remains with the publishers. Libraries only have copyright of the recording of the virtual storytime session.

Does the subscription cover titles not on the book list?

No, only those that are listed. But libraries are welcomed to request books to be considered by the relevant publishers for adding to the list.

Does it cover music?

The agreement does not cover music or songs, unless those songs are already covered under public domain.

Can other types of libraries eg schools, subscribe?

This agreement only covers activities performed as an official program of an Australian public library service.

Where can I find more information?

Contact us at [email protected].