Collection standards

Last updated:  31 May 2024

Objective

To provide access to a current and relevant collection which meets the needs of the community.

Note that S10, S11, S12, S13 and S14 are related measures and should be used in conjunction with each other to assess collection quality and performance. ‘Items per capita’ alone is not a sufficient measure of quality. Items per capita may be artificially inflated if the collection is not regularly weeded and the age of stock drifts out, or if the library maintains a large ‘stack’ collection. Given that the strength of a collection usually lies with its currency rather than its size, stock turnover (S13) and circulation (S14) are important measures of the appeal of collection items.

General guidelines for stock collection and acquisition are presented in G9. Collection development and management

S9. Expenditure on library materials per capita

state median = $4.81  

CohortsCohort medianRange
Rural small <20,000$5.47$4.28 - $8.09
Urban 20,001 – 50,000$4.97$4.22 - $5.87
Urban 50,001 – 150,000$5.27$4.20 - $6.07
Urban 150,000+$3.81$3.42 - $4.73

Note

A rural council that is a regional library member standard is not currently available, libraries should refer to the rural standalone as a proxy in the interim.

Measurement parameters

‘Library material’ is defined as ‘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’.[1] Note that expenditure on licensed access to electronic resources is included in line with the definition from the Public Libraries in New South Wales: Financial Reporting, State Library of NSW used in statistics collection for Public Library Statistics

S10. Items per capita

state median = 1.94

CohortsCohort medianTop of the cohort
Rural small <20,0003.1811.04
Urban 20,001 – 50,0002.123.10
Urban 50,001 – 150,0001.704.01
Urban 150,000+1.183.74

Measurement parameters

‘Items in collection’ is ‘library material’ (stock). ‘Library materials’ are defined as ‘any book and non-book material, including but not limited to talking books, ebooks, e-audio books, DVDs, computer games, toys, magazines, CDs, newspapers, CD-ROMs, maps, plans, manuscripts’. Note that licensed access to electronic resources (databases) is not included.  

Points to consider

Smaller libraries need a proportionately higher number of items per capita in order to maintain customer choice.

S11. Acquisitions per capita

state median = 0.20

CohortsCohort medianTop of the cohort
Rural small <20,0000.231.23
Urban 20,001 – 50,0000.220.92
Urban 50,001 – 150,0000.180.44
Urban 150,000+0.160.79

Measurement parameters

‘Items in collection’ is ‘library material’ (stock). ‘Library materials’ are defined as ‘any book and non-book material, including but not limited to videos, talking books, ebooks, e-audio books, DVDs, computer games, toys, magazines, CDs, newspapers, CD-ROMs, maps, plans, manuscripts’. Note that licensed access to electronic resources (databases) is not included.  

Points to consider

A library should acquire new material to meet the needs of the community, including providing sufficient choice, and should also address the diversity in the community.

S12. Age of collection

S12a. % of library collection purchased in last 5 years  

state median = 48.50%  

CohortsCohort medianTop of the cohort
Rural small <20,00041.80%80.33%
Urban 20,001 – 50,00047.00%78.98%
Urban 50,001 – 150,00049.00%82.00%
Urban 150,000+62.24%91.70%

S12b. % of library collection purchased in last 10 years  

state median = 79.00%  

CohortsCohort medianTop of the cohort
Rural small <20,00067.78%90.97%
Urban 20,001 – 50,00081.00%92.41%
Urban 50,001 – 150,00077.52%93.00%
Urban 150,000+79.00%96.80%

Measurement parameters

Age is the per cent of the collections purchased within the last five or 10 years.

Library collection is the total number of items of library material (stock) owned by the library service. ‘Library materials’ are defined as ‘any book and non-book material, including but not limited to talking books, ebooks, e-audio books, DVDs, computer games, toys, magazines, CDs, newspapers, maps, plans, manuscripts’.  

Note: Licensed access to electronic resources (databases) is not included. If the age of the collection is improved (that is, a higher percentage of the collection is new), then loans and collection turnover will increase.  

Variables to consider

Family history and local studies library material may not be included when applying this standard. These resources have usually been collected over long periods and are intended to be retained indefinitely regardless of age.  

S13. Turnover of stock  

state median = 2.39

CohortsCohort medianTop of the cohort
Rural small <20,0000.872.67
Urban 20,001 – 50,0002.343.80
Urban 50,001 – 150,0002.955.89
Urban 150,000+3.257.97

Measurement parameters

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

Note: If there is a large non-lending stack or reference collection this will reduce performance against standard S12.

S14. Circulation per capita  

state median = 3.84

CohortsCohort medianTop of the cohort
Rural small <20,0002.786.88
Urban 20,001 – 50,0004.499.19
Urban 50,001 – 150,0004.8410.51
Urban 150,000+3.656.71

Measurement parameters

‘Circulation’ is the total number of loans (items) from all service points. This includes ebook and e-audio book loans. Electronic serials issues are excluded from issues lending figures.

Points to consider

If there is a large non-lending stack collection and/or significant family history and genealogy reference collections this will reduce performance against standard S12.

Collection age directly influences loans and stock turnover. If the age of the collection is improved (that is, a higher percentage of the collection is new), then loans and collection turnover will increase.

Other points to consider are:

  • length of circulation period
  • number of items allowed to be borrowed at one time
  • renewal policy. 
Evidence base

The evidence base for the target figures is derived from the NSW Public Library Statistics and additional data collected annually in the statistical return and statement of library operations.  

In this update 2022/23 statistics are used with data submitted by councils as at 30 June 2023 and per capita calculations based on ABS population figures for June 2022.