WA Public Libraries Strategy

Public libraries are much-loved and much-used facilities. Across Western Australia’s 233 public libraries, there are more than 1,000,000 active library members who borrowed some 11.2 million physical items and some 2.8 million online resources such as ebooks and eaudiobooks in 2019-20.  

But there is a need for continuous change to deliver more efficient and flexible public library services to continue to meet Western Australia’s growing and diverse community needs.

The WA Public Libraries Strategy was the result of extensive research and consultation through the Public Libraries Working Group and with stakeholders including local government authorities. The Strategy was release by the Minister for Culture and the Arts in 2019.

Public Libraries Working Group (PLWG)

For more than 70 years, the State Library of Western Australia has partnered with local governments across Western Australia to deliver public library services. In 2020, a new partnership agreement was signed with Local Government for the provision of these services. Under this agreement, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) convenes the Public Libraries Working Group (PLWG) with representatives from the DLGSC, SLWA, WALGA, and Public Libraries WA to oversee the implementation of public library strategies.  

PLWG Meeting Minutes:

In 2020, the PLWG Terms of Reference were revised and endorsed by PLWG. The group will be expanded to include a representative from the Office of Digital Government and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, together with a representative from regional local government in Tier 2. The group will be focusing on:

  • Providing advice to State and Local Government on public library policy and strategy;
  • Offer a communication mechanism and consultative framework for government and non-government stakeholders implementing initiatives that impact on the delivery of public library services; and
  • Lead research and planning for a new strategy for the public library network.

The first meeting of the refocused PLWG will be held in early 2021.

New Tiered Model to Support Public Library Service Delivery

A framework for a new tiered model to support public library service delivery in Western Australia was endorsed by WALGA State Council and the Library Board of WA at their respective May meetings.  This aspirational framework means that local government public library services in Western Australia will fall into one of three tiers primarily dependent on their population and capacity. 

The endorsed Framework was phased in over 2019-20 and 2020-21.  Support for libraries in regional and remote Western Australia has been incorporated into the new model and is now facilitated by SLWA using enhanced access to technology and on-line platforms to improve engagement.

New Funding Allocation Model

The State Government provides SLWA with funds for the purchase of print and online materials for the State's 233 public libraries. Traditionally, this funding has been used exclusively for the purchase of print and online resources. The new model will allow for local government to apply for some of their funding to be used to support library initiatives and public programs.

The new model will be implemented from 1 July 2021.  SLWA are currently trialling grants with Tier 1, 2 and 3 local governments to test the processes, documentation and acquittals. 

Details of successful trial grant applications are listed below:

Library Priority Allocation Grants (Tier 1):

Local Government Project Amount
Cambridge Cambridge Library 2021 STEM Programme $2 400
Canning Connect in Canning – Resilient Street and Neighbourhood Project.  Subproject – “Welcome” Points $15 880
Capel STEM Robotics $3 000
Collie STEAM education and recreation collection $2 000
Gosnells Mobile Makerspace $20 000
Kalamunda Virtual reality experiences @ your library $6 416
Rockingham Purchase of interactive touch screens $10 175

Technology and Digital Inclusion Grants (Tier 2 and 3)

Local Government Project Amount
Chapman Valley Nabawa Library Relocation Project $4,343.68
Corrigin Connecting Corrigin $2,282.45
Dalwallinu Digital Lounge Project $1,597
East Pilbara Pilbara Immersion $4,944
Mingenew Public PC for Mingenew library $1,970
Narembeen Digital together in Narembeen $2,532.40
Three Springs Upgrade of computers at Three Springs library $1,905
Victoria Plains Innovating Calingiri $2,317.27
West Arthur Tablets for digital inclusion $850
Westonia Wifi for Wessie $890
Wongan-Ballidu Portable Public Use Devices $2,948.60
Woodanilling Community Internet Access Computer $2,040

Encouraging Promise Practice Grants (Tier 2)

Local Government Project Amount
Chittering Bindoon Library Reading Nook $4,818.24
Dalwallinu Cubby house play and learn project $3,979.38
Narembeen Building brains together in Narembeen $2,738.75

One Card Project

As part of the WA Public Libraries Strategy the State Library of Western Australia commissioned AOT Consulting Pty Ltd to prepare a business case to scope requirements and assess options for a model to facilitate single library card access (one card) for the community throughout Western Australia.  This proposal was rejected by State Treasury.  State Library is currently investigating if the State Library’s library management system can be shared with Tier 2 and 3 local governments in a consortia arrangement.

Last updated on: 25 February 2021