Libraries in any country, state or territory, and at any stage of development, have both strengths and weaknesses. All are capable of improvement. Regularly bringing together knowledge on current international and Australian trends in provision of public library services and the collective wisdom and experience of Australian library practitioners assists librarians to develop an effective contemporary library service that efficiently responds to the needs of their local community.
Standards and guidelines outline what is achievable and what is aspirational. While some libraries may operate at the most basic level of service, all libraries strive towards the highest levels of service that they can deliver. In doing this, public libraries demonstrate their commitment to and practical support for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular public access to information, universal literacy, sustainable communities, technology access and digital literacy.
Australia is one of the few countries to have evidence-based national public library standards and guidelines. This long-standing national approach is a collaborative endeavour of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Australian Public Library Alliance (APLA).