The Public Library Grant, then and now

Public library services across Queensland have changed a lot in the past hundred years, and so has the funding and resources provided through the State Library of Queensland (State Library).

Then: 1943

Prior to the Libraries Act 1943, public libraries in Queensland received very little in the way of financial support from either State or Local Government. Government subsidies were paid to the Schools of Art libraries from 1912 until 1931 when, owing to the Depression, they were withdrawn.

Following the withdrawal of subsidy payments, many of the libraries closed and the book stock and buildings of the remainder gradually deteriorated.

Interior view of the library at Halwyn, a residence in Red Hill, Brisbane, 1923

Interior view of the library at Halwyn, a residence in Red Hill, Brisbane, 1923.
John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

By 1943, the library services provided to the citizens of Queensland were extremely poor in quality with the large majority having no access to services and only a few having access to a free library service.

The Libraries Act 1943 was the first move by the Queensland State Government to improve the quality of life by fostering the development of library services, by permitting the Library Board of Queensland to provide grants or loans for library facilities.

Now: 2018

The State Library operates under the Libraries Act 1988. The object of this Act is to contribute to the cultural, social and intellectual development of all Queenslanders.

The State Library administers the annual Public Library Grant to Queensland Local Governments to support the development of high-quality library and library-related services to meet the diverse needs of the whole community. The Public Library Grant is automatically indexed each year for population growth, and is administered under a Service Level Agreement.

Indigenous Knowledge Centre staff working with computers and robotics

Indigenous Knowledge Centre staff working with computers and robotics. State Library of Queensland, 2016.

Public library services in Queensland now come in all shapes and sizes with libraries in almost every local government area from the south east corner, to the western border with the Northern Territory, and all the way up to the islands in the Cape York Peninsula, and Torres Strait regions between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

This includes up to 24 Indigenous Knowledge Centres operating in Indigenous Shire Councils which provide both traditional library services (including information and communication technologies), as well as a means and a place to capture and preserve local history and traditions.

This July a new round of the Public Library Grant will be rolled out by the State Library. If you would like more information please contact the Local Government Coordination Team on