Public libraries

Australian Public Library Alliance 

The Australian Public Library Alliance comprises representatives from the state-based public library associations, the territory libraries and Libraries Tasmania. APLA advises the ALIA Board on policy for its sector and has a highly active role in shaping our activities and campaigns. 

About APLA  

Public libraries contribute to at least 10 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, including 1 No poverty; 3 Good health and well-being; 4 Quality education; 5 Gender equality; 8 Decent work and economic growth; 9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure; 10 Reduced inequalities; 11 Sustainable cities and communities; 16 Peace and justice, strong institutions, and 17 Partnerships for the goals.

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
Libraries Tasmania Public Libraries WA
Northern Territory Library Queensland Public Libraries Association
NSW Public Libraries Association  

APLA is chaired by Viv Barton AALIA (CP), WA, and has three expert members - Janice Nitschke AM AALIA, SA, Sharan Harvey, AALIA, QLD, and Steve McQuade, City of Fremantle, WA (ALIA institutional member). The committee meets every two months by teleconference and once a year face-to-face.

APLA initiatives

APLA had many achievements to celebrate following the completion of its National Vision and Framework for Public Libraries, 2010APLA published a report covering its achievements from 2010 to 2015 and a further report for 2016-2018. 

APLA delivered its National strategy and action plan 2015-2018 and its National strategy and action plan 2019-2022.

Standards and guidelines


STEM agenda

  • In March 2017, more than 100 leaders from public libraries across Australia, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe and the Americas, gathered at the State Library of New South Wales for STEAM into Sydney, celebrating the innovative ways that public libraries are supporting the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics agenda. The conference was built around the mid-term meeting of the IFLA Standing Committee on Public Libraries. This ALIA APLA report from the conference shows how public libraries are participating in the STEM agenda, and this report - Australian libraries: the digital economy within everyone's reach - was produced in November 2017, in response to the federal government's Digital Economy Opening the Conversation initiative.


Reading and literacy


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. ALIA has been a member of the Telstra Digital Inclusion Index reference group since its inception.
  • Australian public libraries are network partners in the Australian Government's Be Connected program.



  • We have provided submissions to many federal government consultations and engaged in discussions with the relevant Departments.
  • ALIA produced The Library Agenda, including public library concerns, in the run up to the 2013 federal election and again in 2016 and 2019.


Book industry engagement


Future thinking - national and international


Advocacy, campaigns and communications


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


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.

ALIA support

About public libraries

National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) produces an annual report on public libraries across Australia.  The 2014 -2015 NSLA report showed that there were 1,631 public library service points, 114 million customer visits and 8.2 million registered library members. 

For more information about public libraries, please see the ALIA Future of the Profession reports

Other useful resources