Reference and information services

Last updated:  12 March 2024

Reference and information services are core components of public library services as set out in the Library Act 1939 s10.

Public libraries provide reference and information services by providing customers with the information and/or reading materials that suit their requirements in an appropriate time frame and delivering education programs to support information and digital literacy, and effective use of library resources and facilities.

Library collections and electronic resources support the provision of information by library staff in response to requests for information and recreational material. 

Best practice resources


Each year the State Library collects statistics from public libraries about local studies collections and circulation. Statistics about the size and circulation of local studies collections are included in the annual NSW public library statistics publication. 

Guidelines and benchmarks

Guideline 6. Information and readers’ advisory services in Living Learning Libraries: standards and guidelines for NSW public libraries provides guidance to public libraries in delivering reference and information services. 

Benchmark 3. Quality of multicultural services and collections in Benchmarking NSW public library services to multicultural communities is a tool for library staff to measure the quality of their services to their multicultural communities.

Professional development

Reference Excellence

Reference Excellence is a self-paced reference and information services training course. It was designed to help public libraries provide reference and information service training to their staff, without individual libraries having to develop their own courses.

Sign up to Reference Excellence


Join the Reference working group (RISG) and email list to connect with other library staff.

The Readers Advisory and the Local Studies working groups are both subcommittees of RISG.  

The Public Library Services team is available to provide advice to NSW public libraries on reference and information services. Contact us to discuss how we can assist your library.