The Ordinance on Public Libraries has been in existence since 1937, as expressed in Chapter 92 of the Laws of Malta. It has been amended several times between 1955 and 1981, while the Act IV of 1990 regulates the National Archives.
In 2004, the government announced the creation of the Local Councils’ Public Libraries Development Committee, with the aim of helping to coordinate the administration of local and regional libraries. An Online Public Access Catalogue has been installed in all libraries to make tracking books easier and more efficient.
In 2006, according to new legislation, the National Archives and the Public Libraries Department became two separate entities and a National Archives Council was created for consultative reasons, but was not given executive power.
In addition to the National Library, there are 8 regional and 49 local libraries in Malta, all lending books at no charge and most of them administered by the local councils. Authors do not receive any remuneration for the loan of their works.
It has been agreed that the Councils make an annual contribution for the provision of new material.
The National Library allows up to 10% of any historical volume to be reproduced for research purposes. This procedure is included in the Quality Service Charter, published in 2001.
In 2009, fiscal benefits were introduced for qualifying costs to make it easier for eligible Maltese authors to publish their literary works.
In 2011, the Malta Libraries Act was enacted to establish a new legal entity under the responsibility of the National Librarian to ensure the collection and conservation of Malta’s documentary heritage for present and future generations, to maintain and develop Malta’s libraries and to encourage reading for study, research, self-development and lifelong-learning information and leisure purposes.