Library Legislation

The provision of library services in Western Australia is governed by the Library Board of Western Australia Act 1951. The Library Board of Western Australia is a statutory body established under the Act and reports directly to the Minister for Art and Culture.

The original purpose of the Library Board was to facilitate the establishment of a free public library network in Western Australia. The Act was amended in 1955 to include the management of the State Library of Western Australia in the Board’s responsibilities.

Official responsibility for the State’s public records was added to the Act in 1974, but this was repealed in 2001 with the passing of the State Records Act 2000, and the establishment of a separate State Records Commission.

There are currently three sets of Regulations under the Library Board Act:

The Library Board established the Public Libraries Working Group (PLWG), with representation from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, WALGA, Public Libraries WA, the Library Board of Western Australia and the State Library of Western Australia in order to consider the outcomes of consultations and provide advice on implementation of key strategies. The PLWG Minutes and all relative information are available on the SLWA Website here.

WA Public Libraries Strategy

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 endorsed the Strategy’s Consultation Report at respective meetings held in July 2018. WALGA State Council (RESOLUTION 76. 5/2018) made the resolution that:

  1. the WA Public Libraries Strategy be endorsed, and
  2. WALGA continue to advocate with Western Australia Public Libraries and key stakeholders to Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries to prioritise funding for implementation of the strategy.

New Tiered Model for Public Library Service Delivery

June 2019 Local Government Forum
In June 2019, WALGA and PLWA hosted a forum with Local Governments to identify opportunities and issues associated with the transfer of ownership of stock and repurposing of existing State Government capital funding. The Consultation Report and Forum recording (file size 538MB)indicated support from the Local Government sector for the repurposing of existing capital funds for the purchase of library materials to recurrent funding and the transfer of ownership of stock as central to the implementation of new tiered model proposed in the Strategy.

At the September 2019 meeting of WALGA State Council (RESOLUTION 96.6/2019) it was resolved that WALGA:
  1. Supports the proposed repurposing of the accounting treatment of existing capital funds to recurrent funding.
  2. Supports the proposed transfer of ownership of stock from State to Local Governments for Tier 1 Local Governments.
  3. Requests State Library WA to advise the Local Government sector of the State Government corporate budget schedule and expedite annual funding allocation notifications to Local Government as soon as possible in the new financial year.
  4. Requests that the State Government make a commitment that the funding to libraries will not decrease; that it will be indexed each financial year and that the discretion of how to expend the funding should remain with Local Government.
February 2020 Local Government Forum
In response, SLWA provided a submission to Treasury to support the proposal which was accepted by State Government at its mid-year economic review which was released 18 December 2019.  This response enabled the proposed implementation of the Tiered Model from 1 July 2020.  In February 2020 to assist with information transfer and to discuss the transition, WALGA hosted and recorded a Forum (file size 461MB) with presentations from SLWA and PLWA.  

Library Agreement

At release of the State Libraries Strategy it was recognised there was a need to review the key principles and roles and responsibilities of both State and Local Government for the provision of public library services following expiry of the previous Framework Agreement between State and Local Government for the Provision of Public Library Services in 2015. During 2020 the PLWG, SLWA and WALGA met to consider the most effective framework for establishing a new Agreement. A new Agreement was signed off in September 2020. 

Single Access Library Card Business Case

One of the priorities outlined in the Strategy is the Single Access Card System, or Single Library Management System (Single LMS).  There are a number of Library Management Systems currently in use across the State by different Local Governments, with little interoperability of which a consolidated system would benefit. Local Governments can expect a robust process to commence investigation and development of a single LMS as the next priority area to be addressed under the Strategy.

Local Government Public Library Network Group

The Local Government Public Library Network Group brings together stakeholders with an interest in public libraries to:

  • share advice and learnings,
  • offer support and encouragement,
  • explore opportunities for partnership and collaboration between Local Governments,
  • disseminate information and
  • coordinate meetings and events.

Membership is open to people working in public libraries or with an interest in public libraries from Local Government, WALGA, State and Commonwealth Government. To join email
View terms of reference here