The State Library Board of Western Australia delivers public libraries in partnership with Local Government. 

There are 233 public libraries in Western Australia. Local Governments provide the library building, staff and operating costs, while the Library Board is responsible for the buying and delivering shelf stock to the 232 public libraries throughout the State.

The Role of the Public Library is Changing

Libraries reflect broader needs of their communities and have adapted their services accordingly.  

Historically, the financial partnership between the WA State Government and Local Government for public library services was an equal one of 50/50 investment. However, today the average investment from the State Government is 12% percent, and Local Government 88%.
Local Government works collaboratively with State Government and to deliver library services across the State.
  • WALGA has commissioned several pieces of research over the past 10 years to modernise and reform Public library services.  This research has been in collaboration and partnership with the State Library of WA and Public libraries WA. 
  • The most recent consultations have resulted in the development of a framework for strategic action. The 2025 Vision for public libraries clearly articulates roles and responsibilities in the delivery of the Strategy.
  • The State Government is committed to working with Local Government to establish a Public Library Taskforce and drive the transformational change required for our public library service in WA.

Proposed Repurposing of Funds and Asset Management for Public Library Materials

In December 2017 the Minister for Culture and the Arts, Hon David Templeman, released the WA Public Libraries Strategy (the Strategy), to establish strategic priorities for public library development in Western Australia over the next four years.

The State Library of Western Australia (SLWA), WALGA and Public Libraries Western Australia (PLWA) have been working in partnership to consult with the Local Government sector to design and implement a way forward with the Strategy.

WALGA State Council, the Board and Public Libraries Working Group (PLWG) endorsed the Strategy’s Consultation Report at respective meetings held in July 2018. The PLWG Reference Group was established to develop a proposal for a new tiered model to support public library service delivery in Western Australia for the consideration of the PLWG.

On 21 June 2019, WALGA and PLWA hosted a forum with local governments to identify opportunities and issues associated from the transfer of ownership of stock and repurposing of existing State Government capital funding. The forum summary report for consultation will be available soon. A recording of the forum is available to download here (file size 537MB).   

Single Access Library Card Business Case

As part of the WA Public Libraries Strategy, endorsed by WALGA State Council and the Library Board of Western Australian in July 2018, the State Library of Western Australia has commissioned AOT Consulting to prepare a Business Case to scope requirements and assess options for a model to facilitate single library card access for the community throughout Western Australia. During consultation in 2018, 95% of the 873 community respondents to a survey identifying considerations for future public library services in Western Australia, nominated a single access library card as their top priority.

Local Governments have been notified by the State Library of Western Australia about the proposal for the single access library card. This letter can be viewed here.