Public libraries in Victoria (except the State Library) are owned and operated by the relevant council or through a regional library corporation. 

Libraries are no longer a place just for borrowing books. They are places where the community can access e-resources, wifi, computers, meeting rooms, art spaces, and a plethora of diverse child, youth and adult programs.  Public libraries are vibrant community hubs that provide all Victorians universal access to information. They offer a safe space for social interaction, digital connection, lifelong learning and rich cultural experiences.

Through Local Government Victoria (LGV), the Victorian Government works alongside councils and regional library corporations to provide quality library facilities for all Victorians.

Public Library

Our public library funding programs include: 

Public Libraries Funding Program

The Public Libraries Funding Program provides annual funding to councils, regional library corporations, and Vision Australia for the provision of public library services.  This funding contributes to the purchase of collection items (physical and electronic), information technology, library and outreach programs, and other services provided by Victorian public libraries.

The Public Libraries Funding Program has been allocated $44.7 million in recurrent funding for the 2019-20 financial year to distribute to councils, regional library corporations and Vision Australia.

Analysis of Public Libraries Funding Program 

An Analysis of Funding of Public Libraries by State and Territory Governments in Australia was commissioned by Local Government Victoria.  

This analysis showed that on a per capita basis, Victorian state government support for public libraries in 2014-15 was higher in Victoria ($7.94) than in either of the other jurisdictions to which Victoria is most frequently compared: New South Wales ($3.76) or Queensland ($6.07).

Analysis of Funding of Public Libraries by States & Territory Governments in Australia (PDF, 382.2 KB)

Living Libraries Infrastructure Program

The Living Libraries Infrastructure Program assists Victorian councils and regional library corporations to provide accessible high-quality library infrastructure and public libraries to everyone in the community.

The Living Libraries Infrastructure Program has committed $18 million of funding over four years (until 2019-20).  

The program funds new, redeveloped or refurbished public library infrastructure; and new or updated mobile libraries.

An independent evaluation of the Living Libraries Infrastructure Program was conducted by the Australian Continuous Group.  The evaluation was completed in October 2018. Thank you to all who participated in the online survey and agreed to be interviewed.  Your feedback has provided the opportunity to improve our program and continue to deliver services to our much loved and used facilities.

Living Libraries Infrastructure Program evaluation report  (PDF, 973.1 KB)

Visit Living Libraries Infrastructure Program for more information on how to apply.

Premiers' Reading Challenge Book Fund

The highly successful Premiers’ Reading Challenge encourages children and young people to discover the benefits of reading. 

The Premiers’ Reading Challenge Book Fund provides an annual allocation to councils, regional library corporations and Vision Australia to buy materials to support the annual Premiers’ Reading Challenge.

A $4.4 million investment in the program over four years was announced as part of the 2016-17 State Budget.

During 2018-19 more than 65,000 items on the Premiers’ Reading Challenge book list were purchased by public libraries using funding from the Premiers’ Reading Challenge Book Fund.

Independent review of public library funding

An independent review of public library funding in Victoria was conducted by global accounting firm KPMG. The review was completed in March 2016.

The report notes there are significant efficiencies and library service quality improvements available to councils through the implementation of shared service initiatives. These will provide Victoria with accessible modern libraries that meet their needs now and into the future.

KPMG Report (PDF, 4.0 MB)
KPMG Report (DOCX, 4.0 MB)

Alongside the release of the report, a number of documents were released that informed the report, including the Tomorrow’s Library stage 1 and 2 reports.

If you have questions or need further information on library funding, please contact:

Amanda Minniti
Senior Project Manager, Local Government Victoria

Further information

Directory of Public Library Services

The Directory of Public Library Services in Victoria provides an overview of the services available in Victoria through its network of public libraries. It profiles each library service including branches, mobile libraries, maps, opening hours and special features.

2020 - Directory of Public Library Services in Victoria (PDF, 9.1 MB)

Annual survey of Victorian public libraries

Each year, Victorian public libraries are surveyed about their services. The survey includes information about service points, staffing, loans, circulation, collection size, information technology and financial data.

Visit Public Libraries Victoria for the annual surveys.

Regional library corporations

A group of councils can form a regional library corporation to manage the councils' library facilities on their behalf. 

Regional library corporations operate under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1989. Under the Act, regional library corporations must operate and report using a structure similar to that of councils. Each corporation has an agreement between its members which has been approved by the Minister for Local Government.

Victorian mechanics' institutes

Mechanics’ Insitutes were established in Victoria during the 1800s to provide community facilities and amenities, including library services.  Some Mechanics’ Institutes continue to provide library services.

The operation of Mechanics' Institutes in Victoria, particularly in relation to the sale or transfer of land, comes under Section 4 of the Libraries Act 1988, which is the responsibility of the Minister for Local Government.

For more information visit Mechanics' Institutes of Victoria Inc.

Page last updated: 30/03/20