Friction and wear properties of aluminum oxide, aluminum oxynitride and aluminum nitride ceramic thin films were examined by contacting the film surfaces with sapphire spheres and conical diamond tips and using applied forces in the microNewton to milliNewton range. With our contact geometry, forces in this range create sub-micron to micron-sized contacts, which are comparable in size to the microstructural features present on the film surfaces. Samples studied include bulk sapphire crystals, and Al2O3, AIOxNy, and AIN thin films grown to thicknesses ranging from 50 nm to 200 nm on sapphire substrates by a variety of deposition techniques. Film growth (microstructure) was controlled to contain either amorphous, random polycrystalline, or highly-oriented crystalline architecture as characterized during film growth by RHEED analysis. Film composition was measured with XPS. Friction and wear data were obtained during low-cycle and high-cycle reciprocal sliding experiments performed on the University of Maine nanotribometer, which is designed for the meso-scale regime. Variations in friction coefficient and wear resistance are correlated to differences in composition and microstructure.