Special library and information services

Special libraries comprise government, NGO, health, law, corporate and other libraries that serve departments, institutions or businesses. Increasingly the word library doesn’t appear in the title, instead these are often known as information services or research units, terms which also describe their main purpose and function. 

General information Government Health 

Special libraries   


10 ways that libraries power high performance organisations 

There are as many as 2,000 special libraries in Australia serving clients in government, health, law, business, banking, consulting, research, science and technology, the arts, media and other industries. The word library doesn’t always appear in the title; instead some are called information services or research units, terms which also describe their main purpose and function.

Download the 10 ways A3 poster, A4 handout (folded), A4 handout.

Special libraries support UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 by providing public access to information about government, civil society and other institutions.

ALIA and special libraries 

Useful resources


Government libraries exist across Australia in different government departments on a federal, state and local level. Some government libraries possess special and unique collections and others deal with very specific topics.

Government libraries and ALIA

  • In 2018, the Australian Government Libraries Information Network ceased to be its own incorporated body and became an ALIA Group, building on our shared goals for government and special libraries. The official handover took place at the ALIA AGM 20 May 2019. 
  • In 2012, we campaigned for government libraries in Queensland in the wake of extensive State Government cuts.



10 Ways that Library and Information Services power the Health Sector 

It is estimated there are between 350 and 400 health libraries in Australia, including hospital, community health, government department and university medical libraries. There are some 1,250 people employed in these libraries. Health librarians comprise an important part of the health information workforce, alongside health information managers and
health informatics specialists.

Download the 10 ways A4 handout.

Health libraries support UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 - good health and well-being.

Health libraries and ALIA

Health libraries are institutions that are designed to assist health care professionals and researchers in finding health and scientific information to improve, update, assess or evaluate health care.

The vision of ALIA’s Health Libraries Australia national group is that all Australians benefit from health library and information professionals’ expertise that is integral to evidence based health care.

In support of this vision, and in line with ALIA's policy direction and priorities, HLA undertakes strategic initiatives in five key areas (portfolios): Professional development, education and training; Demonstrating value; Partnerships and collaborations; Publishing and communication; Membership. Each of these has a number of activities, all aimed at realising our vision. Please visit the HLA page for details of our activities, including our two regular publications, HLA News and HLA Alerts.

HLA has an active professional development education and training program, providing several significant events each year. Details of forthcoming events are provided on HLA PD page, together with presentations from past events. The specialist Certified Professional (Health) PD Scheme is supported by a competency framework and a courses map to enable our members to maintain their professional qualifications in a 3-year revalidation cycle.  

ALIA HLA maintains an active elist, aliaHEALTH, and has a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn.

In 2016, HLA released The Census of Australian Health Librarians and Health Librarians Working Outside the Traditional Library Setting

In 2013, we developed a return on investment study for health libraries with SGS Economics as a partnership between ALIA Health Libraries Australia, Health Libraries Inc.:

In 2011 we published the final report of a two year study: Health Librarianship Workforce and Education: Research to Plan the future


This page is accurate as of 30 March 2021 and will be updated as needed