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.
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 Jan Richards AM FALIA (CP), NSW, 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 had many achievements to celebrate following the completion of its National Vision and Framework for Public Libraries, 2010. APLA published a report covering its achievements from 2010 to 2015 and a further report for 2016-2018.
Standards and guidelines
- We developed National Standards and Guidelines for Australian Public Libraries, providing essential benchmarks for library managers, councils and state government. These were first published in 2010 and a second edition was published 2012. A new set of Australian Public Library Guidelines Standards and Outcome Measures 2016 was launched on 7 November that year at Parliament House, in Canberra. These guidelines provide essential benchmarks for library managers, councils and state government. They are accompanied by a benchmarking calculator to enable libraries to assess their performance against the guidelines and standards.
- 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
- We have established public libraries’ position as the ‘active connectors’ for early literacy (you can download the early literacy framework and strategy for Australian public libraries here) and run highly successful campaigns encouraging readers of all ages. Every year we have delivered the Summer Reading Club and National Simultaneous Storytime. Our biggest single activity has been the National Year of Reading in 2012, and from this the Australian Reading Hour has emerged as an annual event.
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
- We have supported the book industry by promoting Australian authors and writing prizes, especially through the Australian Book Industry Awards, and we have tracked libraries’ expansion into ebooks, collaborating on a national level to address the issues around elending with publishers and platform providers. We published a comparison of ebooks and elending in Australian public libraries 2013 v 2014 highlighting the challenges facing the sector and an update report in 2015.
Future thinking - national and international
- We have developed our vision for the future for public libraries at a national level and promoted this through the ALIA Future of the Profession reports, sharing the insights with colleagues internationally through our involvement with IFLA.
- Public libraries contribute to Australia's delivery of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
Advocacy, campaigns and communications
- We have run high profile media campaigns around Library Lovers’ Day and Library and Information Week, including Australia's Favourite Library Books. We have published the Little Book of Public Libraries and Love Letters to Libraries for a broad range of stakeholders and produced regular monthly enewsletters for public library subscribers.
- We have measured the return on investment of public libraries, providing further evidence of their important role and value to their communities.
- In 2016, we published a document entitled 10 ways that libraries power Smart Cities.
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 email@example.com.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
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.
- We advocate for public libraries at a national, state and local level.
- Our fellowships and awards recognise the achievements of members in all spheres of endeavour.
- We keep our public library members up to date through ALIA Weekly and the Australian Public Library Alliance News enewsletters, 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 public 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.
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
- Summary of reports: The value and impact of public libraries in Australia 2010-2017
- The Impact of Libraries as Creative Spaces, 2015, an investigation by the State Library of Queensland and the Digital Media Research Centre, QUT.
- Tomorrow’s Library, 2012, the first report from the Victorian Government review of public libraries in the state.
- People Places A Guide for Public Library Buildings in New South Wales, third edition, 2012, a valuable resource for library managers working on new libraries or redevelopments.
- The Library Dividend, 2012, an assessment of the return on investment of Queensland public libraries.
- Dollars Sense and Public Libraries, 2011, an assessment of the return on investment of Victorian public libraries.
- The Bookends Scenarios, Alternative futures for the Public Library Network in NSW in 2030, 2009, a futurist view of public libraries.
- Enriching Communities: The Value of Public Libraries in New South Wales, 2008, an assessment of the return on investment of New South Wales public libraries.