Value of public libraries

Last updated:  08 April 2024

Using behavioural insights to improve library services

In 2020 the State Library of NSW partnered with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, the NSW Department of Customer Service’s Behavioural Insights Unit, the Australian Library Information Association and the NSW Public Libraries Association to scope a project with the aim of optimising membership, visitation and satisfaction of selected NSW libraries to improve their social, cultural and place performance.  

The project team worked with Bega Valley Shire Council, City of Sydney, Northern Beaches Council, and Wagga Wagga City Council councils on a 12-month project aiming to increase access to their local libraries’ services in response to COVID-19.  

The research report describes the project process and findings. 


Watch the recording to learn about the collaborative project and its innovative approach, the different interventions developed and tested by public libraries, and the main lessons learned.

Recorded Thursday March 24, 2022


Project resources

Webinar slides

Enriching communities: the value of public libraries in NSW

The Enriching Communities research highlights the value of public libraries through their contribution to a sustainable NSW community and provides a means of quantifying that contribution.  The project was completed in March 2008. 

Download the research report and resources below:

Project resources


Public libraries and sustainable communities project - discussion paper1 file(s)52.14 KTools

Social capital

This project investigated how public libraries contribute to the production of social capital in the communities in which they are located. Public libraries have traditionally offered users access to information and knowledge, as well as access to the people who assist in finding these items. Their physical spaces offer a community space with a range of uses. The value of public libraries is attested by their high usage. They offer their services to a wide range of people, including the retired, those out of work, students and others with few resources.