Library partnerships with outside agencies

Last updated:  13 March 2024

Libraries can promote community involvement and provide a broader scope of services and information by forming partnerships with other groups and agencies.

Successful partnerships allow libraries to:

  • draw on the skills and expertise of experts in the community
  • reach a new audience
  • share resources including staff time and program costs.

There are many different groups libraries can partner with, including your council, cultural institutions, community groups, health services, schools, government agencies and more.

Planning your partnership

Every partnership is different. They can be a one-off or long lasting, formal or informal.

Whatever the nature of the partnership, following are some tips to consider.

Common goals

A successful partnership relies on shared or complementary goals and a shared belief in the value of the partnership.

Before entering into a partnership, consider the desired outcomes of each stakeholder.

  • What are the aims of the project?
  • Will working with a partner help achieve the desired outcome?
  • Is there benefit for the partner I have identified?
  • Do my partner's goals match the goals of my organisation?

What are you bringing?

A worthwhile partnership features stakeholders each bringing something important to achieving the desired outcomes.

When planning a partnership, identify why collaborating with others will add value to the project.

  • Why is the project important to my organisation?
  • What skills or resources does my organisation bring to this project?
  • What else is required for this project to succeed?
  • What skills or resources does my partner bring to this project?

Who does what?

Partnerships work when each stakeholder understands their role and what is required to make the project successful.

When planning a partnership, think about what each partner brings to the project and divide the work accordingly.

  • Are the roles of each party clearly defined?
  • Is each stakeholder able to perform their role?
  • Is there a budget for staffing, venues, equipment and other resources?
  • Does the partnership require a formal agreement?


Each stakeholder in a partnership will have project goals, desired outcomes and an idea of what success means.

When planning a partnership, think about what you and your partner(s) wish to achieve and whether the projects will lead to shared success.

  • What does success look like?
  • Is each stakeholder getting what they want?
  • What is next – will this project continue?
  • Are there other opportunities for collaboration with this partner? 

Partnerships in action

Following are examples of successful partnerships.

Your council: City of Ryde Library and council sustainability team

City of Ryde Libraries worked closely with the council's Waste and Sustainability team to provide residents with great tips and resources on sustainable gardening. The initiative included an author talk with Angus Stewart and his book Futureproof your Garden. The event was hosted by Gardening Australia's Costa Georgiadis and featured giveaways of compost bins and self-watering pots provided by Council.

Library and Council then worked together again on Ryde's inaugural Sustainability Families Festival which featured a range of games, activities, workshops and more, and was enjoyed by over 600 visitors. The festival is now an annual event.

Community legal centre: Campbelltown City Library and Macarthur Legal Centre

Campbelltown City Library and Macarthur Legal Service's long-running partnership is highlighted by the Let's Talk Legal series of talks provided to the community by qualified legal professionals from the Macarthur Legal Centre. The talks have covered a wide range of topics relating to the law, including wills, healthy relationships, civil law and HSC legal studies.  

Campbelltown Library provides a venue for the legal talks in a relaxed, trusted and friendly environment. The program raises awareness of the services of the Macarthur Legal Centre and highlights the valuable legal information available online and in the library via the Find Legal Answers service, providing the community with multiple avenues for legal information and advice.

Find out more about providing community legal education

Cultural institutions: Penrith City Library and JSPAC

A creative collaboration between Penrith City Library and the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre brought the beach to western Sydney. Alison Lester’s beloved story Magic Beach was brought to life by CDP Kids on stage at Penrith.  

Penrith Library presented a fun program of themed activities to support the production, including colouring competitions, quizzes and a series of interactive and immersive readings of Magic Beach by Library staff, on stage at the Joan.  

The readings preceded the live performances, attracting large crowds keen to add to their live theatre experience.  

Multicultural groups: Albury LibraryMuseum and the Albury-Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau

The Albury-Wodonga Cultural Exchange is a long-running partnership established by Albury City and Wodonga Councils and the Albury-Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau.  

The project aims to develop multicultural hubs centred in public libraries, with a range of in-library programs and activities for new community members from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds, their cultural groups and the wider Albury Wodonga community.  

Past activities have included playgroups, craft sessions, talks and community forums, conversation clubs and homework help.

Health services: Camden Library and Camden Stroke Recovery Club

What began as a simple initiative to extend Camden Library's Home Library Services to recovering stroke patients at Camden District Hospital soon grew into something much bigger.  

Working with Council's community team and the Camden Stroke Recovery Club, the library team devised a project to support the hospital's rehabilitation unit. The library provided iPads with occupational therapy apps and games, as well as DVDs and talking books which were made available to residents of the rehabilitation unit. The project led to mutually beneficial outcomes for the hospital, the library and the satisfied patients.

University: Parramatta Council and Macquarie University

Parramatta Council partners with Macquarie University to share Parramatta’s material culture.

Macquarie University has developed and led the use of 3D imaging technology for learning and teaching, research and museum needs. They use a range of 3D imaging technology and software including laser scanners, structured light scanners, cameras and photogrammetry setups to enable digitisation in 3D. They also developed the Pedestal 3D platform. Council uses this platform to display 3D images of their collection items. 

Macquarie University students develop their skills by scanning and uploading objects from Parramatta’s collection. Parramatta is able to make their collection of historical objects accessible to all.


Keep in touch

Join an email list and subscribe to the PLS and In the Libraries enewsletters to find out about partnership opportunities and examples.