National State and Territory Libraries

About National State and Territory Libraries

The nation’s nine collecting institutions are the National Library of Australia, the State Libraries of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, the ACT Heritage Library and the Northern Territory Library. The primary role of these libraries is to collect, preserve and provide access to the documentary history of Australia, including books, manuscripts, documents, images, maps and other materials, in print, digital and other formats. The collective body representing these institutions is National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA).

The state and territory libraries play a leadership role in supporting public libraries within their jurisdiction, and there is a close bond with archives, museums, galleries, university and special libraries, which also hold unique collections.


NSLA 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.


Figures from NSLA show that during the 2018-2019 financial year:

  • The total expenditure on public libraries increased from $1.14 billion in 2014-15 to over $1.32 billion in 2018-19, an increase of 16.4%. On a per capita basis, the total expenditure on public libraries increased by 9.1% over the same period to $52.38.
  • Access to public library services was provided through 1,683 service points, including 1,410 branches, 81 mobiles serving hundreds of separate locations and 191 other outlets.
  • There were more than 110 million visits to these physical facilities and an additional 51 million visits to public library websites.
  • There were more than 9 million registered members, representing 36% of the total Australian population.
  • Total collections of more than 39.2 million items (1.5 items per person) were available for the use of the community, with expenditure of more than $133 million to ensure that these collections remained up to date and relevant.
  • Total usage of public library collections of over 158 million, comprised of more than 136 million loans of physical items and more than 22 million loans, downloads and retrievals from electronic collections.
  • More than 273,000 library programs attracted over 7.4 million attendances.
  • Public library staff responded to over 8 million requests for information or assistance.


ALIA Futures has more information about collecting institutions.


This page is accurate as of 4 January 2021 and will be updated as needed