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.  

Details of successful grant applications for 2021 are listed below:

Library Priority Allocation Grants (Tier 1):

Local Government




Library of Things



DigiPlay Van (Mobile outreach vehicle for digital engagement and play based learning)



Meeting Pods



Youth Study Space



Digital Experiences Learning Area


Derby- West Kimberley

Significance Assessment



Library Connect - Project Evaluation



The Create Room, Wundowie



Spoken History: Hearing the voices of Plantagenet



Purchase of 2 x interactive touch screens - Safety Bay Library and Warnbro Community Library


Technology and Digital Inclusion Grants (Tier 2 and 3)

Local Government




Digital Awareness Project


Boyup Brook

Tech Tips



Improving Digital Inclusion - Resources and Training



Frankland River Youth Zone and Computer Lab



Interactive Foreign Language Learning Online



GO Tech Access For All



Connecting Irwin



Our Passion, Your Potential thru Technology



Craft Makerspace



Community Technology Access Program



Supply Community with Digital Hub


Upper Gascoyne

Upper Gascoyne Staying Connected



"Savvy Seniors" Computer Lessons.  (Improvement of Library Technology and Training Facilities)


Encouraging Promise Practice Grants (Tier 2)

Local Government



Boyup Brook

Library Revival



Shire of Cranbrook Archives - Equipping Volunteers and Library Staff to Preserve Our Communities History



Inspiring a Connected Irwin



Fitzy Unearthed / Fitzy Files



Waroona Public Library Interactive Children’s Space



Library Improvements and Programs



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: 26 August 2021