Last updated:  13 March 2024


Australian Bureau of Statistics


see Free access

Accessible web design  

‘Accessible web design’ refers to the philosophy and practice of designing web pages so that they can be navigated and read by everyone, regardless of location, experience, or the type of computer technology used. Accessible web design is usually discussed in relation to people with a disability, because this group are most likely to be disadvantaged if the principles of accessible web design are not implemented. Failure to follow these principles can make it difficult or impossible for people with a disability to access web pages.’

Source: World Wide Web access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes, version 4.0, October 2010 (Australian Human Rights Commission


see Older people


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library, Information and Resource Network  

Basic reference service see Reference service

Branch Library  

A branch library is a service point that is an auxiliary facility with separate quarters from the Tier One library, a permanent collection of books, permanent paid staff present during all hours of opening, offers a broad range of public library services and a regular schedule of public service hours.  


Culturally and linguistically diverse communities


see Young people


The group of NSW public libraries serving populations of similar sizes. They are defined as rural serving populations of up to 20,000 people, either operating as standalone library services (single council) or as members of regional library services as defined in the Library Act 1939, section 12 and the urban libraries are divided into three cohorts based on population size (20,001–50,000; 50,001–150,000 and 150,001+).

Customer service requests  

Customer enquiries that are not counted under the definition of an Information request below. Examples include changing a customer’s registration details or helping customers with equipment, PC bookings, wireless inquiries and directional inquiries. Issuing of loans or accepting items for return are not included in the definitions of Customer service requests or Information requests.


English as a second language

Free access  

Any person (whether or not a member of the library) is entitled free of charge to access to any book of the library and to any information forming part of the information service of the library (other than information excepted from free access by guidelines issued by the Council) for use on the library premises. Source: Guidelines to section 10, Library Act 1939

Free delivery  

No charge is to be made for the delivery to a member of the library of any book or information that the member is entitled to borrow free of charge if the member for reasons of ill-health or disability cannot reasonably be expected to attend the library in person.

This relates to services currently known as ‘housebound’ or ‘home library’ services.

The intention of this provision is to ensure that no charge is levied where the local library provides a delivery service to members of the library who by reason of sickness or disability are unable to attend the library. Each local authority may determine the extent of the geographic area served by its delivery service where such services are provided. 
Source: Guidelines to section 10, Library Act 1939  

Free loans  

Any person who is a member of the library is entitled to borrow free of charge from the library for use away from the library premises any library material of the library which has been classified by the librarian of the library as being of literary, informative, or educational value or as being fiction.

The intention of this provision is to ensure that residents and ratepayers are able to borrow free of charge any materials which have been classified by the librarian as loan material which has literary, informative, or educational value and fiction materials (including large print and other special format fiction materials).

The term ‘classified by the librarian of the library’ acknowledges that librarians within individual local authorities have responsibility for determining what constitutes educational and informative material. For the purposes of this provision, the librarian of the library must classify loan materials as being of literary, informative or educational value. 
Source: Guidelines to section 10, Library Act 1939

Free membership  

Free membership is membership of a local authority library including provision of a library card for residents of that local authority’s area and for residents of other local authorities who are signatories to the Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement (held by the Library Council of NSW). Any person who is a resident of the area of the local authority or a ratepayer of the local authority is entitled to free membership of the Library free of charge. 
Source: Guidelines to section 10, Library Act 1939

See also Membership records


Full-time equivalent (in reference to staffing)


A set of principles for developing levels of performance which lead to quality library services.


Home Library Service


Information and communication technology


Interlibrary loan also known as document delivery


see Integrated library management system

In-depth reference service  

see Reference service

Information request  

Contact with a library customer where the service that is provided is predominantly informational/instructional. Examples include: 

  • author/title  
  • general subject  
  • readers advisory  
  • local studies  
  • genealogy  
  • community information
  • literacy/ESL
  • community languages
  • technology instruction 

Information service  

Information service means an information service provided, controlled or managed in conjunction with a library or library service. (Library Act 1939)

‘Information service’ is ‘personal assistance provided by members of the reference staff to library users in pursuit of information. Synonymous with reference service’. (The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science, American Library Association, 1983.)  

See also Reference service

Integrated library management system  

Software which stores and manages the library’s bibliographic records, item records and linked resources and content, which provides web-based search, display and customer services, which manages circulation and inventory control, and which provides management and reporting functions.


Information technology

Joint use facility/ Joint use area  

A Joint use facility or area is open to the public, has a permanent paid staff and is managed by a formal cooperative agreement between the council and another institution (usually educational, e.g. School or TAFE). A joint use facility normally functions as a library, e.g. a school/public library whilst a joint use area functions within a library, e.g. a telecentre.  


Local Government Authority. See also Local authority

Library management system  

see Integrated library management system

Library material  

The Library Act 1939 defines library material ‘Library material includes book, periodical, newspaper and any other printed matter and also includes map, music, manuscript, picture, photographic plate and film and any other matter or thing on or by which words, sounds or images are recorded or reproduced’. 

This definition includes electronic publications and information that is accessible via the internet, and it means that members of the public can enter a public library and access information, regardless of its format, free of charge (other than information excepted from free access by guidelines issued by the Council). 

Library program  

see Program

Library staff  

Library staff are the paid staff members, and may include staff with qualifications, prior learning and/or relevant experience in related fields.

Volunteers are not used as a substitute for appropriately trained and paid library staff. Their role is separate from the day to day operation of the library service and the tasks they undertake do not comprise core library duties.

See also Qualified staff


Literacy involves the integration of listening, speaking, reading, writing and critical thinking; it incorporates numeracy. It includes the cultural knowledge that enables the speaker, writer or reader to recognise and use language appropriate to different social situations. For an advanced technological society such as Australia, the goal is an active literacy which allows people to use language to enhance their capacity to think, create and question, in order to participate effectively in society.

Source: Australian Council for Adult Literacy, 1991


see Free loans

Local authority  

Local authority means a council within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1993. Source: Library Act 1939 (NSW)  

Local library  

Local library means a library in an area provided, controlled or managed by a local authority and includes a library provided, controlled or managed pursuant to section 12 and a library provided, controlled or managed by a local authority in conjunction with any other person. Source: Library Act 1939 (NSW)  


Languages other than English

Tier One library  

A Tier One library is a location where the public have direct access to a full range of library services and facilities. Tier One libraries are operated by permanent paid library staff. Tier One libraries in NSW are one of the following:

  • a single site library service point in an LGA  
  • the operational centre and /or a major service point of a multiple site library service in an LGA (Note: Large urban LGAs may have more than one Tier One library)
  • a member of a regional library and the only service point in its LGA, or the major service point in the LGA.


Members are those members of the community who have joined their local public library and hold a membership card.  

Membership records  

Membership records are maintained on computer databases and these records are updated every three years. See also Free membership

Mobile library  

A mobile library is a vehicle equipped and operated by paid library staff to provide a mobile branch library service.  


National and State Libraries Australia. Membership includes the State Libraries of each Australian state, the ACT Library and Information Service, the Northern Territory Library and Information Service and the National Library of Australia.  

Older people  

People aged 65 years and over

Patron education  

see Reader education


A library program is an ongoing series or sequence of activities provided by library staff or library staff in partnership with other community or business organisations and usually related to a library service, library collection or population demographic e.g. children’s storytimes; homework help; book discussion groups or reading clubs; learning activities related to library user education programs; English language conversation classes; parent education seminars. Library programs are usually delivered in library buildings but can be conducted in other community spaces, e.g. schools, senior citizens centres.

Public library  

A collection of sources, resources, and services for of information and recreational reading, viewing and listening. The term also covers the structure in which collections and services are housed. Public libraries have collections of books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, audio-books, ebooks, and a wide range of electronic sources of information and recreational material. They provide computers and free internet access. Public libraries support the information, education, cultural and recreational needs of local communities. They occupy a central place in community life. They offer a wide range of exciting and innovative services and programs for all age groups. Public libraries are safe and trusted public spaces where everyone is welcome.  

Qualified staff  

Library staff members who are eligible for professional membership of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Paraprofessional staff are those qualified for Library Technician membership of ALIA.  

Reader education  

Reader education provides individuals and/or groups advice on using the library’s facilities and services; training programs in use of information technology; information and digital literacy programs. Sometimes called User education.

Readers’ advisory service  

A readers’ advisory service (sometimes called reader development service) is one in which knowledgeable, non-judgemental library staff help readers with their leisure reading needs. Using knowledge of fiction and non-fiction material, of the library collection, and print and electronic reference tools, the readers’ adviser helps the reader answer the question ‘What do I read next?’ The service includes suggesting new or unfamiliar authors and topics or genres, interesting casual readers in more systematic reading, maintaining contacts with local educational agencies, promoting reading and encouraging use of the library service.

Reference service

Basic reference service

Any person who is a member of the library is entitled to be provided free of charge with basic reference services (being any service classified by guidelines issued by the council as a basic reference service), including assistance in locating information and sources of information.

It is the intention of this provision to ensure that public libraries make provision for free basic reference or information services.

Note: ‘Information service’ and ‘reference service’ are synonymous for the purposes of the guidelines.

Basic reference/information services which are to be provided free include:

  • provision of independent access to reference materials for persons who see such information on the premises of the library including assistance in identifying and locating library materials (by any appropriate means) within the library or from other sources.
  • provision of assistance by library staff in identifying, retrieving, and making available, relevant information (by any appropriate means) in response to requests for information by library customers.

In-depth reference service

Reference/information services which may, at the discretion of the local authority, attract a charge include in-depth reference/information searches at the request of an individual library user.

The criteria for determining whether a reference or information search is in-depth include an assessment of:

  • the extent of the search
  • the level of staff interaction
  • the cost incurred
  • the level of analysis of the information
  • the amount of repackaging or formatting (e.g. preparation of a summary or a report)
  • the method of delivery.

Regional library  

In NSW, library services delivered across a group of LGAs where the councils have combined to collaboratively resource and provide services under S12 of the Library Act 1939.  

(Note: the term has different meanings elsewhere in Australia. In Victoria, ‘regional libraries’ are run by ‘regional library corporations’, which operate library services on behalf of groups of local government councils. In Western Australia, ‘regional library’ arrangements ensure that professional library expertise is available to small councils unable to employ professional or paraprofessional library staff.

Reservation fee  

Administrative cost associated with reserving an item for the member who has requested it. Source: Guidelines to section 10, Library Act 1939 [link]


see Older people

Service point  

A Service Point refers to the building, not the number of information or service desks within the building.  

Shelf-ready items  

Library resources which have been catalogued and ‘end processed’ so as to be ready for immediate use. ‘Shelf-ready’ includes cataloguing, covering, spine labelling, book labelling, bar-coding, and genre labels.


State Library of New South Wales

Specialist service point  

A Specialist Service Point is a facility with public access that does not offer a broad range of public library services, but focuses on one aspect of public library service, e.g. children’s, genealogy. It is operated by permanent paid library staff present during all hours of opening. This is not counted as a Branch Library but as a Specialist Service Point.  


see Library staff; Qualified staff


Quality levels and goals for attainment


Turnover is obtained by dividing the total circulation by the total library lending stock to provide an indication of stock use.  


Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

User education  

see Reader education

Young people  

For the purposes of these guidelines, young people are defined as follows: children (0–12 years) and young adults (13–18 years