Australian Library Design Awards 2021



Due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions the ALIA Board of Directors made the decision to host the Australian Library Design Awards 2021 as a virtual event. 


The Australian Library Design Awards showcase the best in contemporary library interiors and exteriors in Australia, and celebrate the investment in libraries made by our nation's institutions, corporations, local, state and territory governments. 
They have been developed in the context of other competitions internationally, including the American Institute of Architects/American Library Association Library Building Awards and the Danish Agency for Culture Model Programme for Public Libraries Public Library of the Year Award.  
The entries, shortlisted and winning designs provide case studies in excellent library design for the 21st Century. They are submitted for consideration for the UK’s Designing Libraries website. There is also media coverage for the finalists. 
The awards are organised by the Australian Library and Information Association. The inaugural awards were presented in 2017, and they are now a bi-annual event. 
In our 2021 gallery, you can find 33 new and refurbished libraries from across Australia. These libraries have entered the third ALIA Australian Library Design Awards. Nominations include inspirational and achievable examples of modern exteriors and interiors for school, public and academic libraries. 

ALIA members have the opportunity to vote for their favourite library from the nominations here. Voting closed on 8 February 2021.

Take a look at all the galleries of all nominations winners from the 2019 and 2017 awards.


There are four categories – public libraries, academic libraries, school libraries and special libraries. Applications are encouraged for small or large projects, for "new builds", renovations or refurbishments. While entries are judged against the same criteria, the juding panel is empowered to make special awards for outstanding entries in specific areas where a high level of innovation, creativity and transformation has been demonstrated, regardless of scale.


Any library in Australia, recently built, renovated or refurbished (work completed between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2020) can be entered for the awards. This does not include pop up, temporary or mobile libraries. Libraries nominated for previous awards cannot be entered again.

Libraries which had final work delayed by COVID-19 are still eligible to nominate if their work was completed just after the cut-off date of 30 June 2020. 


Nominations are submitted by libraries and their designers or architects.


The judging panel comprises independent design professionals and senior library leaders. 

  • Janine Schmidt, IFLA Library Buildings and Equipment Standing Committee (Chair)
  • Janette Burke, University Librarian, University of Tasmania
  • Philip Follent, Life Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects
  • Anne Girolami, Chair, ALIA Schools
  • Paula Kelly Paull, Leader - Growth and Development, Raeco and Director - Progressive Momentum
  • Anne Kovachevich, Australasian Leader, Arup Foresight + Innovation team
  • Karen Latimer, Member and former Chair, UK Designing Libraries Advisory Board
  • Kylie Legge, Director, Place Partner
  • Jenny Mustey, Library Services Manager, Campaspe Regional Library
  • Ann Ritchie, ALIA HLA

The judging panel reserves the right not to make an award in a category or to make more than one award where there are equally outstanding entries. It may assign highly commended status to especially impressive entries.



In addition to the kudos and publicity surrounding their achievement, the winners of the awards receive handcrafted trophies which are presented at the Changing Spaces Library Design Conference.


Entries have now closed.  Judging will take place  during December and the shortlist will be announced in early 2021.


Entries will be assessed on how well the designs have met their objectives and specifically on the basis of the following criteria:  
    Design: including interior, exterior appearance, visual impact, flexibility, innovation, accessibility, and integration into/consideration of the local environment.

    Strategic relevance: including approach to achieving the organisational, service and design objectives, response to special considerations or challenges, sustainability, and value for money.

    Community engagement: including initial identification of needs through to concept development and project delivery.

    Impact: including user experience, efficiency, functionality, delivery of services, and meeting community needs particularly those of specific groups.

For smaller projects constrained by space or costs, the panel will assess the level of innovation, creativity and transformation achieved despite the constraints.

The judges’ decision will be final.


About the conference

On 18 March, 2021, there will be a one-day virtual conference, featuring the shortlisted projects, and the announcement of the award winners. The conference is part of the Asia-Pacific Architecture Forum held annually in Brisbane. Entrants are encouraged to book a place early. 

 Registrations for the virtual conference are now open.


previous winners

Sixteen stunning libraries were entered for second Australian Library Design Awards 2019 Online nominations opened on 2 July and closed on 30 September, 2018. The shortlist was announced on 6 February 2019.

On 14 March, 2019, there was a one-day conference at the State Library of Queensland featuring the shortlisted projects, with a presentation of the awards and a celebratory evening reception.  In addition to the publicity and kudos of the award, the winners received handcrafted trophies.

You can read the Asia Pacific Architecture Forum news release.

You can read the news release on the 2019 ALIA Library Design Awards shortlist and winners.



The ALIA Library Design Awards are kindly supported by ArchitectureAU.comRaeco and State Library of Queensland.



More information

For more information please contact