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Standards and guidelines for public libraries

Living Learning Libraries; standards and guidelines for NSW public libraries was developed by Libraries Alive! Pty Ltd for the State Library of NSW and endorsed by the Library Council of NSW in 2008. It is now in its sixth edition (2015).

In November 2009 the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Public Library Associations commissioned Libraries Alive! to develop national standards and guidelines for Australian public libraries. The aim was to support the work of Australia’s 1600 public libraries in bringing information, recreation and lifelong learning opportunities to all Australians. Not since 1990 when ALIA published Towards a Quality Service: goals, objectives and standards for public libraries in Australia had there been a single document to guide public library development at a national level.

Working closely with the Public Library Associations, and building on prior work including Living Learning Libraries (State Library of NSW), Queensland public library standards and guidelines (State Library of Queensland), other material documenting best practice service provision, and national data collated by National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA) from state and territory statistics, the project resulted in the ALIA publication Beyond a quality service: strengthening the social fabric; standards and guidelines for Australian public libraries. The 2nd edition may be downloaded from the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) public libraries website.

The first edition was launched by Margaret Allen, ALIA Vice-president and President-elect, at the Public Libraries Western Australia conference, 1 April 2011. Sue Hutley, Executive Director of ALIA, said at the time:

'In celebrating our achievements this month we can chalk up another significant moment in the launch of Beyond a Quality Service, Strengthening the Social Fabric: National Standards and Guidelines for Public Libraries. Incoming President Margaret Allen and I were proud to launch the Standards and Guidelines alongside our public library association colleagues in Perth at the Public Libraries Western Australia conference. Along with important reports due out in May [2011] such as Dollars and Sense: Value of Public Libraries in Victoria, these resources give us even more tools to demonstrate our value and argue for funding and resources for this sector.' (From 'Directline' column, Incite, May 2011)

An environmental scan of the public library environment is presented in the Introduction to Living Learning Libraries editions 1 to 3. A similar scan, relevant to the national publication, is included in Beyond a quality service. An extensive bibliography is included in each publication. The ALIA national project is documented in 'Continuous improvement: national standards and guidelines for Australia's public libraries', by Sherrey Quinn and Ian McCallum, APLIS, Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services, vol 24, no 3, September 2011, p. 101-106.

Libraries Alive! acknowledges the contribution of the ALIA/PLA Reference Group which oversaw the project: Leona Jennings (Gold Coast City, Qld), Sheena Joyce (City of Swan, WA), John Murrell (West Gippsland Regional Library, Vic) and Janice Nitschke (Wattle Range, SA). The State Library of NSW generously gave permission to use elements of the content, format and layout of the NSW standards, Living Learning Libraries, for the national project.

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