The Association was formally set up on 2nd January 1984 and membership includes the national and provincial parliamentary libraries of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Informal meetings were held, the first in 1972, to discuss the establishment of a cooperative association to promote and improve library and research services to members of Parliament. The constitution for the association was drafted in 1982, establishing guidelines for subsequent conferences and meetings.
An annual conference is held in conjunction with the Annual General Meeting, member Parliaments hosting the event on a rotational basis. Formal papers are delivered and discussed at the annual conference, usually around a pre-determined topical theme.
The general meeting allows for discussion on common issues and provides a forum for cooperative ventures and information sharing.
APLA has held specialist meetings for staff of member Parliamentary Libraries that focus on particular issues, for example media services and reference and research services.
The constitution established APLA's objectives:
- Encourage understanding of, and co-operation between, research and information services attached to National and State Legislatures;
- Consider any matters affecting the common interests or operations of Parliamentary Libraries;
- Initiate, develop, establish and support ideas, methods and techniques likely to result in the better functioning of Parliamentary Libraries generally, and in particular their effective provision of information relevant to the needs of the Parliamentarians they serve;
- Foster a clearer understanding of the respective needs and roles of Members of Parliament and their Parliamentary Libraries by establishing a forum for better communication between the two;
- Provide a body which can speak and act on behalf of its several constituents on matters coming within the ambit of its authority; and
- Advance the cause of Parliamentary Librarianship generally.