History of the Association

Detailed year-by-year information about the Association can be found in ALIA's annual reports.


The two major events which impacted ALIA in 2020 were the 2019-2020 bushfires, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

ALIA’s response to the bushfires which occurred from November 2019 to March 2020 was to create a dedicated website page with relevant information for libraries (and other cultural institutions) and aid impacted libraries and their staff.

The pandemic which reached Australia in March 2020 affected ALIA and libraries in several ways. Notably, many libraries were forced to close (sometimes several times),  and to alter their services to provide more digital/virtual services and alternative services (such as click and collect collection items). ALIA responsed in a number of ways including: cancelling the ALIA National 2020 conference; undertaking a nationwide survey, setting up the ALIA Relief Fund, negotiating the Online Storytime Agreement/Pilot, creating the webpage ALIA Connects, through cosigning ALIA creative industry COVID-19 stimulus letter; and supporting a Charles Sturt University research project.

In 2020, ALIA launched its Professional Pathways initiative to strengthen the profession, increase diversity and help create a future-ready workforce. 

The Association continued to advocate for and support higher education and alongside educators of library and information science ALIA co-signed a joint communique stating their ongoing commitment to deliver accredited LIS courses at their universities.

Following the 2020 protests in support of First Nations Peoples and people of colour the ALIA Board released the statement ALIA condemns racism, racial discrimination and race-based violence.  

Regular important administrative tasks continued to take place. In particular ALIA’s property at 9-11 Napier Close, Deakin – ALIA House – was listed for sale in September 2020. On 9 December, an unconditional contract of sale was signed with Barwon Investment Partners, for a total of $6.2M, with completion on 22 December 2020. There are no plans for ALIA to move from Canberra. The Association will remain as tenants for a five-year period, and the building will retain the name of ALIA House during this time.


ALIA celebrated both the Year of the Public Domain and the Year of Indigenous Languages.

ALIA ran a storywriting competition for Library Lovers' Day 2019 which had more than 600 entrants. 

In March 2019, the ALIA accredited course in Fiji saw the graduation of the first cohort of students.

ALIA facilitated the 2019 Australian Library Design Awards, with 16 entrants. 

Across 2018-2019 ALIA hosted eight Leadership & Innovation Forums which involved more than 30 organisations and more than 300 attendees.

In 2019 ALIA launched its Vote Library campaign for the 2019 federal election. This campaign included a Member sourced election agenda, letters to candidates, a social media campaign and free downloadable collateral.

Across 2019 ALIA supported Safer Internet Day on 5 February; Information Awareness Month in May; MayDay for the month of May; supporting the Indigenous Literacy Foundation throughout May-June; and the Australian Reading Hour on 19 September 2019. 



ALIA partnered with LIANZA and the Library Association of Singapore to present the first three-nation Asia-Pacific Library and Information Conference on the Gold Coast in August 2018. This was accompanied by Our Global Goals, the ALIA Asia-Pacific Library and Information Science Sustainable Development Goals Summit.

There was further refurbishment of ALIA House, with the refitting of ground floor offices for new tenants and renovation of the upstairs toilets.


ALIA celebrated its 80th anniversary with the theme '80 years strong' and 1930s styled celebrations in every state and territory. A time capsule was buried at ALIA House, to be opened in August 2037 for the centenary.

ALIA House underwent refurbishment, with a fresh coat of paint on the outside, upgrading of presentation technology in the conference room, and increased open plan office space for the ALIA team.

Australian Library Journal and Australian Academic and Research Libraries merged to become the Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, published under the Routledge imprint of Taylor & Francis Group.

The ALIA Constitution was amended to include reference to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 19.


ALIA was commissioned by the Australian Electoral Commission to organise voter information sessions at 63 library locations in areas with high levels of informal voting.

ALIA lobbied for funding for library platforms and programs in the lead up to the mid-year federal election. In November, ALIA, in partnership with the Australian Public Libraries Alliance and National and State Libraries Australasia, held a dinner in the Mural Hall, at Parliament House, attended by library leaders, politicians, bureaucrats and stakeholders in museums, archives, the book industry, early childhood, digital inclusion and other library related sectors.

ALIA signed a three-way memorandum of understanding with LIANZA and the Library Association of Singapore to hold a joint conference on the Gold Coast in 2018 - the first joint conference with LIANZA since 1994.

Four higher education institutions gained ALIA Gold course accreditation, and there was a first accreditation for a new Bachelor program offered by Box Hill Institute. Three first accreditations were provided to other Diploma courses, including LTSA, the first private registered training organisation to receive ALIA accreditation.

The Great School Libraries campaign, in partnership with the Australian School Library Association and the state-based school library associations, resulted in more than 200 school libraries being nominated for their achievements and an honours list being published as a four-page lift out in Australian Teacher Magazine


ALIA launched the FAIR (Freedom of Access to Information and Resources) website in February 2015 and the platform went from strength to strength, with more than 4000 subscribers in six months. Major campaigns during that period were fighting cuts to the State Library WA budget, raising funds for Vanuatu school libraries post-cyclone Pam, and 'cooking for copyright' - seeking the same copyright terms for unpublished materials as for published materials.

Cooking for Copyright Day on 31 July drew attention to the need for copyright law reform in Australia, including introducing the same term of copyright for published and unpublished works. Thousands of supporters joined ALIA in a highly successful social media campaign around freeing up vintage recipes which, as unpublished works, remain in perpetual copyright. On 23 December, the Australian Government released a draft Bill for copyright law reform incorporating many of the changes we had been lobbying for through the Cooking for Copyright campaign, and on 15 June 2017, the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill was passed.

ALIA partnered with the Australian Society of Archivists and Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia to develop a joint accreditation process for higher education library and information science courses.

With Museums Australia and National and State Libraries Australasia, ALIA was a lead organisation behind the formation of GLAM Peak, promoting digital access to collections, together with galleries, archives, museums, historical societies and other collecting institutions, which met for the first time at the Queensland Museum in June. 

Fifteen Institutions invited ALIA to undertake a reaccreditation process for their Diploma of Library and Information Services CUL11. Fourteen chose the red documentation-only process and one the ALIA Gold process with the additional scrutiny of a panel visit. The final outcome was reaccreditation for 14 courses with only one withdrawal, despite all the pressures of a national upheaval in the organisation and financial support for vocational education.

Work continued with LT educators and Industry Business Skills Council IBSA to improve the Diploma of Library and Information Services and to facilitate the Diploma's move to the Business training package. This move was completed early in 2016.

The ALIA Prison Library Guidelines were thoroughly reviewed an updated by a team which went on to form the ALIA Prison Libraries Group.


At the AGM in May 2014, Members were asked to consider more than 20 amendments to the ALIA Constitution. While most were minor, others reflected the changing technology environment, for example providing electronic link access to future AGMs. Also at the AGM the ALIA Futures reports were launched, capturing a year-long consultation with leaders and futurists from within and outside the library and information science sector, and 25 year pins were presented to long term Members.

At the World Library and Information Congress in Lyon, France, the ALIA President signed the IFLA Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development. ALIA's Future of the Profession poster was the winner of the prestigious award for best poster at the conference.

At the National Conference in Melbourne in September 2014, ALIA held an Education, Skills and Employment Summit bringing together employers and educators. The first ALIA Education, Skills and Employment Trend Report was published to coincide with the summit and became an annual report.

ALIA formally recognised the importance of First People's cultural heritage in libraries with an addition to the Association's Core Knowledge, Skills and Attributes policy: 'We respectfully acknowledge, learn about and understand the important contribution of our first peoples, especially in their role as the inheritors and the custodians of the longest living human culture on earth.'


At the start of 2013, ALIA Weekly was introduced as a weekly enewsletter summarising the main stories of the last seven days. This quickly became a popular service for Members and a useful promotional vehicle to non-members, as subscriptions exceeded 6,500. A new logo and website were introduced for the Association in the first half of 2013 to signify a period of renewal, and the results of the satisfaction survey in September 2013 suggested that improvements were valued by Members.

Two new categories of membership were approved by the ALIA Board - Associate Certified Professional and Library Technician Certified Professional - in line with the Association's commitment to ongoing learning. A health library specialisation was introduced, based on a skills audit of this particular role, becoming the first of a series of PD specialisations introduced over the following years. An environmental scan of course accreditation internationally led to a review of ALIA's own course accreditation processes, in consultation with library and information science educators.

ALIA carried out a one year consultation with Members and senior library leaders to investigate the Future of the Library and Information Profession, including a summit held at the State Library of NSW in October 2013. This resulted in a suite of documents being launched in May 2014, covering the different sectors - public, school, university, TAFE and special libraries.

In July ALIA published its agenda for the forthcoming federal election. This document covered the themes ALIA believed were essential for promoting literacy, enabling citizens to be well-informed, supporting socially inclusive communities and contributing to the success of Australia as a knowledge-based economy.

By the start of 2013 ebooks and elending were having a major impact on library collections. In order to understand the concerns of members, ALIA ran think tanks in Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. ALIA also published a number of papers to help guide the discussion, including principles for the procurement and use of ebooks in Australian libraries and a business case for the buy-it-now button on library catalogues.

The World Library and Information Congress took place in August 2013, in Singapore. ALIA organised a reception at the Australian High Commission in Singapore to honour Australian, New Zealand and overseas library leaders attending the conference.

Research was high on the agenda for the ALIA Board, which commissioned a landscape report on Library and Information Science research, managed by the ALIA Research Advisory Committee.


The National Year of Reading launched on Library Lovers' Day, 14 February. ALIA was a founding member of this important and historical event. This year-long $1.7 million campaign, funded by the Australian Government, library associations and State and Territory Libraries, resulted in more than 4,000 events across Australia, involving more than 200,000 participants. It generated $5.6 million worth of in kind support from industry partners and $26 million worth of media coverage, encouraging people to discover and rediscover the joy of reading. In future years, ALIA continued to support The Reading Hour, which emerged out of the National Year of Reading.

The Australian Law Reform Commission's investigation into Copyright and the Digital Economy began in 2012 and continued into 2013, providing advocacy opportunities for the sector to promote copyright reform. ALIA worked with the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee to promote the library reform agenda. ALIA also contributed to the Office for the Arts review of the Public Lending Right and the Educational Lending Right.

Publishing of Australian Library Journal and Australian Academic and Research Libraries was outsourced to Taylor and Francis under a green open access model. This was a controversial move for some Members who would have preferred the journals to remain in-house and become fully open access.

In collaboration with Health Libraries Inc, Health Libraries Australia, the ALIA Group, produced A Question of Life and Death, an Investigation into the Value of Health Library and Information Services in Australia, which gained accolades from colleagues around the world for highlighting the value of health libraries.

ALIA was pleased to be part of the launch of the eSmart Libraries initiative by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation (AMF). AMF had secured $8 million in funding from the Telstra Foundation to roll the program out to all public libraries. This project ran through to June 2018.


More than 1500 delegates attended the ALIA Information Online 2011 conference at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre from 31 January to 4 February. National standards and guidelines for Australian public libraries were launched in Perth in April 2011. ALIA worked with the state-based public library associations to develop this best practice framework and advocacy tool.

Australian Library Journal celebrated its 60th anniversary. The Australian Government released its report into the findings of its Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in December 2011. ALIA had made strong submissions to the inquiry along with the Australian School Libraries Association.

Through the Increasing Accessibility Initiative, generously supported by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, ALIA provided 1200 digital audio devices to 175 library service points to improve access to print material in digital format for people with print disabilities. 

The Innovation and Business Skills Australia Review of CUL04 Museums and Libraries Information Services Training Package was completed and its successor developed. ALIA was an active participant in ensuring the new qualifications reflected industry requirements. ALIA was a member of the project reference group for the Australian Learning and Teaching Council research project Re-Conceptualising and Re-Positioning Australian Library and Information Science Education for the 21st Century.

At the end of 2011, ALIA ceased providing the voucher-based Interlibrary Lending Scheme. This scheme was an innovative and valuable service to libraries for many years, but had been supplanted over time by simpler, more secure and more universally accepted systems.


ALIA helped launch the Safer Internet Group to work with government to promote a safer online experience for Australian families.


ALIA welcomed 50 politicians and public officials, their advisers and senior figures from the library world to the first ever ALIA Public Libraries Summit on 16 July at the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

ALIA joined Twitter, a fast growing social media site, widely used in the LIS community.


The ALIA Education and Workforce Summit in Melbourne brought together library employers, educators, researchers and ALIA Members, to discuss critical issues in both library and information education, and in the library workforce.


ALIA’s first Summer Reading Club was launched on 1 December. 50,000 children across Australia were part of the national Summer Reading Club over the summer holidays. Public libraries from Broome to Hobart participated in the club.

ALIA joined Facebook as a means of adding new avenues of communication with the LIS industry.


New Grads Group and New Generation and Policy Advisory Group started.


The first National Simultaneous Storytime was held as part of ALIA’s Library and Information Week celebrations. Children from around Australia gathered at their local public and school libraries to hear readings of Edward the Emu. Written by Sheena Knowles and illustrated by Financial Review cartoonist Rod Clement.

ALIA Groups were restructured to be self-nominating.


On 1 March, the Royal Charter was repatriated and ALIA incorporated. The AGM held in October was the first to be held under Corporations Law. 

The National Library of Australia ceased accepting ALIA vouchers for interlibrary loans and document supply from 1 June.

The sixth ALIA Biennial Conference was held in Canberra.

The Continuing Professional Development Scheme (known as ‘the PD Scheme’ since 2008) for Associate and Library Technician personal ALIA Members was created.


In July, the ALIA General Council abandoned the work of the Leadership Committee and voted to adopt a ‘Charter of Renewal’ from within. As a result, the ACLIS/ALIA Leadership Committee wound itself up on 31 July.

The ACLIS National Council met on 25 September to consider its options and resolved to wind the organisation up. ACLIS formally ceased to exist on 27 November. The ACLIS NC agreed that all funds remaining in the ACLIS accounts be passed to ALIA 'to be used solely for copyright purposes'.

The inaugural meeting of the Australian Digital Alliance (ADA) was held at the National Library of Australia. The meeting was organized by ACLIS as part of its ongoing support for copyright and related issues. Over 50 delegates attended it.


ACLIS National Council and ALIA General Council conducted their first and only joint meeting in Adelaide on 12 June and unanimously agreed to merge the two organisations into one newly structured organisation. A Leadership Committee, comprised of members from each organisation was established to bring about the necessary changes.

Library and Information Week was hosted by ALIA for the first time.


ALIAnet was introduced, launched by Governor General Bill Hayden. This was possibly the first example of a professional association providing an email service for staff and online service to members.


ALIA moved away from the work level guidelines towards the development of competency standards, as a part of the creation by the Federal Government of industry training bodies. An Enterprise Flexibility Agreement was negotiated with ALIA National Office staff.

Australian Library Week was organised by ALIA National Office.


ALIA Biennial Conference held in Albury/ Wodonga – the first conference to be held outside a capital city. The Towards Federation 2001 Conference, supported by the NLA, was held in Canberra in March.


ALIA published Harrison Bryan’s 3-volume encyclopaedia ALIAS (Australia’s Library Information and Archives Services), which was seen as a breakthrough publication.


ALIA House in Deakin officially opened on 23 November. The opening was performed by the Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories the Honourable Ros Kelly MP.


LAA House Ultimo was sold. The National Office relocated to temporary offices in Deakin. The foundation stone for ALIA’s new permanent office in Deakin was laid on 23 October by The Hon Bill Hayden AC Governor-General of Australia.

The LAA took a new name (ALIA – the Australian Library and Information Association) adopted after a plebiscite of members. It is of interest that the new name was not one of those proposed in the plebiscite but was put forward at the meeting. The addition of the word ‘Information’ was intended to open the doors to other professions in like fields.


Approval was given to the first professional members under the widened eligibility criteria.

The Association formally decided to relocate the National Office to Canberra, to construct a new national headquarters and to sell LAA House in Ultimo to fund the new building. A National Headquarters Building Committee was established to oversee the project. A site in West Deakin was identified for the ALIA National Office and Phillip Cox was selected as the architect.

A new composition of General Council came into effect. It comprised President, Vice-President, Immediate Past President, and a representative of each Branch and the Chairperson of the Board of Education.

The Australian Council of Libraries and Information Services (ACLIS) was established. ACLIS assumed the assets and liabilities of AACOBS and ALIC. The Interim Council met for the first time on 26 February and the first meeting of the fully elected National Council took place on 21 October. ACLIS differed from ALIA in that it was comprised solely of Institutional Members.

Australian Libraries Summit held in October. It was significantly funded and organized by the National Library of Australia.

The first IFLA/LAA Conference was held in Sydney.


Supplementary Royal Charter granted.

ALIA began discussions with the National Capital Development Commission over a potential site for a possible new National Office. Quick action was required because sites close to Parliament House were being quickly taken up.

The 50th Anniversary celebration of the LAA was held in Canberra. A two-day conference with invited speakers and social events was organised. Almost 200 members attended.


The Biennial Conference was held in Darwin for the first time. ALIA purchased Rainbow Serpent bark painting, commissioned for the Conference.

The first Australian Online/OnDisc Conference (now known as Information Online) was held in Sydney. Both this and the first Victorian Association for Library Automation (VALA) conference, held the following year, were indicative of the increasing impact of technology on the way libraries operated and provided services.


The Corporate Plan and Review Committee (Warren Horton, Jenny Adams, Anne Hazell) was established. The report from the Committee was adopted by General Council in November 1986, following General Council’s first Darwin meeting.


LAA house relocated to 376 Jones Street, Ultimo, Sydney, and the Committee on Standards and Training was established.


General Council accepted the recommendation of the Office Location Committee that the Association’s office should remain in Sydney in premises owned by the Association. This meant moving the Association’s offices from the rented premises in the Science Centre to a property purchased in Elizabeth Street, Sydney. The latter proved unsuitable but its sale provided some funds towards the subsequent purchase of the Ultimo property.

New By-Laws came into effect which resulted in major changes to the composition of General Council. Sections were no longer represented and two Councillors-at-large were elected by the whole membership.


inCite was published for the first time and the final registration examinations were held.


The LAA Library Technician Award was awarded for the first time.


This year saw the final meeting of the Standing Committee of General Council.


An invitation from AACOBS to LAA to establish and manage a system of Vouchers for Inter-Library Loans in Australia was extended and accepted. This proved to be a financial lifeline to the LAA, as the income derived from the handling charge and interest from the vouchers held in trust was very welcome. The Association's Surry Hills premises were sold and this was the last year in which new candidates were accepted for the registration examination.


The first democratic election of the Association’s Honourary Office Holders by all members happened. Previously, the Honourary Office Holders were elected from within the General Council. This was at a time of much change, including a much more ‘populist’ style ALJ, the commencement of publishing INCITE and the move of Association headquarters from Surry Hills to Clarence Street in Sydney.

The Board of Education was established. The Board replaced the Board of Examiners, which had managed the external examination scheme.

The CIPL Report was handed to the new Federal Government in May. By the time the Committee had submitted its report, the Government had changed and the report did not lead to the major changes the industry had hoped for.


John Vaughan was appointed as the first full time Executive Director.

The Association’s offices moved from the terrace house in Belvoir Street, Surry Hills to rented accommodation in the Science Centre in Clarence Street, Sydney.


John Wallace Metcalfe received the first HCL Anderson Award.

Sir Archibald Grenfell Price received the first Redmond Barry Award.

The State Librarians Council (SLC) first met in 1973, with subsequent name changes to State Librarians Council, CASL (Council of Australian State Libraries) and in 2006 to NSLA (National and State Librarians Australasia) to include the National Libraries of Australia and New Zealand.


A pilot survey of library services to migrants was undertaken in New South Wales.


General Council decided to phase out the Registration Examination system. The first Registration Examination was held in 1944, with 49 candidates. The final Examination was held in 1980.

The first salary scale survey, leading to the production of the first Salary Scales, was completed.


General Council adopted the position of ‘Acceptance that a first award in librarianship as satisfying the educational requirements for professional membership’. This was quite controversial with some people, who refused to accept a degree in librarianship as equivalent to a degree plus a professional diploma/Registration Certificate.


CAUL (Committee of Australian University Librarians) was established. It evolved from an informal body, the University Librarians’ Committee which was established in 1958.


Although the Association was established in 1949, the granting of a Royal Charter on 29 January provided a formal constitutional basis for the Association.


Following a lengthy debate, General Council adopted the statement ‘Graduate Qualifications for Librarianship’.


LAA/ALIA began to pursue an active role in course recognition, now known as accreditation.


AACOBS (Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services) was established with the ongoing support of the National Library of Australia. Interaction between AACOBS and LAA/ALIA continued for many years until AACOBS was subsumed into ACLIS (Australian Council of Libraries and Information Services) in 1988.


The 50 founding members of the Library Association of Australia were awarded the first Fellowships.


The Australian Library Journal was published for the first time in July.


The Australian Institute of Librarians (AIL) amended its Constitution to become the Library Association of Australia (LAA). The 793 members of the former AIL became the inaugural members of the LAA. The funds of the AIL, totalling ₤920 were passed to the LAA.

John Metcalfe was elected as the first President of the new Association. Metcalf was both the last President of the Australian Institute of Librarians (AIL) and the first President of the Library Association of Australia (LAA). He was also the inaugural Editor of the Australian Library Journal and the first recipient of the HCL Anderson Award. He was awarded a Fellowship of the Association in 1964. In addition to his at the then Public Library of New South Wales, Metcalf wrote extensively on the intricacies of cataloguing. He was the first Director of the School of Librarianship at UNSW (University of New South Wales). He is generally regarded as the Father of Australian librarianship.

1937-1949 Uniting a profession: The Australian Institute of Librarians 1937-1949 by Jean P Whyte and David J Jones available to download in full from Trove


A national system of examining and certificating librarians is established by the Australian Institute of Librarians.


The Australian Institute of Librarians Board of Examiners is established.


The first conference of the Australian Institute of Librarians is held in Sydney.


The Australian Institute of Librarians is established.


ALIA's timeline 1937 to 2007 was produced by former Executive Director Gordon Bower (1978-1981) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Association in its various forms.

This page is accurate as of 12 March 2021 and will be updated as needed