Libraries and literacies

Libraries support the many different literacies including reading, writing, information literacy, STEM and digital literacy. In January 2017, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning published a policy brief on Using Libraries To Support National Literacy Efforts.

'Used strategically, libraries have the potential to play a key role in promoting national literacy efforts, as they are trusted by people in the communities they serve and are in a good position to provide a wide variety of literacy opportunities. Libraries provide literacy resources for children, youth and adults at all proficiency levels, thereby making an enormous contribution to supporting a reading culture and the creation of a literate society. They are also an ideal community space for facilitating intergenerational and family learning'. 

Literacy underpins the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is particularly relevant to Goal 4 - quality education.


We estimate that there are some 121,000 story times for young children in libraries around Australia, attracting 3.1 million participants. There are many initiatives in libraries around the country, including whole of state programs such as Better Beginnings in WA and First 5 Forever in QLD.

Every year, ALIA runs National Simultaneous Storytime. Partnering with LIANZA and Scholastic in 2020, we reached more than a million children.

ALIA published the ALIA PLAC Early Literacy Framework and Strategy for Australian Public Libraries in 2014 and in 2016, partnered with other organisations in the early childhood sector to deliver the Australian National Early Literacy Summit. Out of this Summit came the National Early Language and Literacy Strategy Coalition, of which ALIA is a founder member. The coalition received a three-year Ian Potter Foundation grant in 2018 to work with government on developing a national strategy. In 2020 the coalition released a discussion paper which outlines the objectives and priorities of a national early language and literacy strategy. 


In 2021, ALIA supported the Declaration statement in support of literacy and numeracy for all adult Australians alongside Adult Learning Australia, the Australian Council for Adult Literacy, the Australian Council of Social Services, the Australian Coalition for Education and Decelopment, the Reading Writing hotline, the Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association and the Literacy for Life Foundation. 

It's never too late to learn to read, nor to develop information and digital literacy skills. Library and information professionals in school, public, TAFE, academic and special libraries can help people brush up their skills. Tech Savvy Seniors, for example, is a major program run to improve digital literacy skills for older members of the community, hosted by public libraries in NSW, QLD and Victoria. The Libraries Tasmania, supported by 26TEN, Tasmania’s strategy for adult literacy and numeracy, is a good example of how libraries are supporting adult learners.


In 2020, ALIA became a founder member of the Australian Media Literacy Alliance an unincorporated group of organisations whose objectives in the area of media literacy are closely aligned. 

The other founding members are as follows:

  • ABC Education (ABC)
  • Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD)
  • National Film and Sound Archives (NFSA)
  • National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA)
  • Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
  • Western Sydney University (WSU)

There are also several organisations involved in advocating for improved media literacy and supporting participants in this goal. These organisations include the BeConnected Network, eSmart WeekLinkedIn Learning, Media Literacy WeekMicrosoft LearningTech Savvy Seniors, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, and many more. 



Each year, ALIA partners with public and school libraries, authors and publishers, to deliver the Australia Reads campaing, formerly the Australian Reading Hour. This initiative came from the National Year of Reading in 2012.

ALIA was one of the founder partners for the National Year of Reading, which involved libraries, readers, writers, publishers, booksellers, and a wide variety of stakeholders. Read the full evaluation.

Useful links


Australian Early Development Census

National and State Libraries Australasia Literacy and Learning

Literacy Matters 


Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey

European Literacy Policy Network factsheet Literacy in Europe

OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)


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