There are some 1,505 public library service points across Australia, including 1,429 fixed point and 76 mobile libraries. These services are funded by local and state or territory government in New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, and by the State Government in Tasmania and the ACT Government in Canberra.
Ten themes emerged from our consultation relating specifically to special libraries, including government, law, health, corporate, engineering, science, art and others. 1. Radical transformation. 2. Value proposition. 3. DIY information. 4. Ready to use. 5. A seat at the top table. 6. Centralise and embed. 7. Big data. 8. Digitisation. 9. Subject specialisation. 10. Space.
Special libraries comprise government, association, health, law, corporate, consulting firm, ICT, engineering, religious, science and technology, art, museum, agriculture, media and other libraries that serve departments, institutions, not-for-profits, charities and businesses. 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.
There were five themes that emerged specific to collecting institutions - National, State and Territory libraries. 1. National treasures direct to your device. 2. Linked data enriches the experience. 3. The need for new legislation. 4. Managing volume. 5. Cultural participation.
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 the National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA).
Every year, some 800 people graduate from an Australian university or TAFE, with a professional qualification in library and information science. Often it is a second career choice, and this contributes to the diversity of age and experience within the sector. Graduates with a degree or Masters qualification are eligible to become an ALIA Associate member, and those with a VET certificate or diploma, an ALIA Library Technician member.
In 2013, ALIA set out to investigate the big questions about our future: how will libraries remain relevant for users?; what changes will institutions and individuals in the sector experience?; will ‘library and information professional’ continue to be a necessary and desirable occupation? Challenging, insightful, inspiring responses to our request for feedback at events held all around Australia was received. As a result, ALIA has been able to identify themes and develop actions that will support positive outcomes. The findings from the project have been produced as seven reports.
In this project, ALIA set out to investigate the big questions. Heading towards 2025: How will libraries remain relevant for users? What changes will institutions and individuals in the sector experience? Will ‘library and information professional’ continue to be a necessary and desirable occupation?
All of the ALIA members want to know what the future holds for library and information services. Of course, it is impossible to predict in exact terms, but using global trends, early indicators and futurist thinking to develop themes can guide the discussion about where it might be headed. For the purpose of this discussion paper, ALIA has looked at the broad role of library and information services, and specific circumstances relating to school, public, academic and special libraries, and collecting institutions.
The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) report highlights areas of good practice and provides a series of recommendations for enhancements to course content for the future. It also examines a number of critical issues that are likely to impact on library technician courses due to developments in the structure and funding of education in Australia, as well as changes within the Library Information Studies sector as a whole.