Targeted services guidelines

Last updated:  22 March 2024


To provide services and materials which meet the needs of distinct customer groups served by the library.

Such customer groups may include individuals of all ages who face barriers to their use of public library services. Barriers may be physical, as in the case of older people, or persons with physical or developmental disabilities, those who are homebound or institutionalised or who live in residential care facilities.  

There are also likely to be a range of groups whose access to library services is difficult for other reasons, for example carers.  

Good planning will identify all of the library’s potential constituencies, including individuals with special needs. The library can then develop specific strategies for reaching them and for providing appropriate services, materials and resources.

Guidelines presented in the following sections address:

  • literacy services
  • services for culturally diverse communities
  • services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • services for people with disability  
  • young people and children’s services
  • services for older people
  • home library services

The services listed above are typical of those provided by libraries to reach particular groups within their local communities.

For staffing levels see S8

G13. Literacy services  


To actively promote and support programs for members of the community with identified literacy needs. Literacy services also cater to the needs of community members requiring assistance with English as a second language.

To provide resources and programs which encourage and stimulate reading among all members of the community.

To provide a welcoming, trusted place where those seeking to improve their literacy skills have opportunities to do so without fear of judgment or stigma. 


‘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’ (Australian Council for Adult Literacy 1991).  


The collection development policy includes sections outlining the acquisition, scope, formats, purposes and management of the relevant literacy collection/s including early literacy material for children, adult literacy resources, English as a Second Language (ESL) material, and material to support literacy programs, including those undertaken by specialist organisations in the community.

Literacy materials are organised to enhance access to and use of the literacy collection.

Provision is made to acquire the latest literacy equipment and technology within the overall financial and IT plans for the library.

Where appropriate, literacy services and collections are managed by specifically skilled and trained staff.

All library staff receive basic training in assisting people with literacy difficulties.

Library staff are aware of the range of literacy resources and programs offered by the library, and ongoing staff awareness training is conducted.

Literacy signs and symbols are displayed where appropriate.

Literacy/learning English classes are provided in community languages where appropriate

Programs for preschool aged children and families which foster early literacy skills. Examples include story-time, baby rhyme-time. (see Early Literacy Framework) [link]

Programs for children and adults include activities which encourage use of the library, promote the development of skills and foster literacy development. Examples include story-telling, story/information trails, reading challenges, book clubs and discussion groups, conversation classes, homework clubs, author talks/events, parent/grandparent/carer–child activities, displays and exhibitions, technology and internet skills classes and so on. Programs are tailored to suit the community, with an emphasis on fun.

Family literacy and digital literacy programs complement early literacy programs.

Literacy programs are delivered in collaboration with literacy service providers and may be delivered in the library or in other locations in the community.

Suggested performance indicators

  • customer satisfaction with literacy collections and services
  • number of literacy classes per annum

G14. Services for culturally diverse communities


To meet the library needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD).


Guidance to the NSW public library network in enhancing services dedicated to culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD) is provided in Benchmarking NSW public library services to multicultural communities (2018).

Note: The following checklist applies predominantly to those local government areas with a significant CALD population. They may not be relevant for some library services.

Planning for library services relevant to NESB clients  

Mechanisms exist for multicultural communities to identify their library service needs, wants and preferences.

Comprehensive community data is used to inform library service planning for multicultural services.

Comprehensive library planning mechanisms exist which are inclusive of diversity issues and which allocate appropriate staffing, resourcing and planning.

Organisational capacity to develop and deliver multicultural services/collections  

A multicultural policy exists and is integrated into the overall library policy structure.

Multicultural skill sets are identified as part of overall service delivery planning and reflected in position descriptions and recruitment procedures.

Staff have the skills and capacity to develop and implement services for a CALD customer base, which is developed through training, performance appraisal and organisational support.

Resource allocation for multilingual collections and services exists to meet CALD customer needs.

Quality of multicultural services/collections  

Based on knowledge of particular cultural needs and trends:

  • a collection exists for a particular language when there are at least 1,000 residents speaking that language as their major language at home, but
  • for large LGAs (population over 100,000), a collection exists for a particular language when there are at least 2% of the resident population speaking that language as their major language at home. For LGAs with a very mixed population a higher percentage may be appropriate at the determination of the library manager.
  • a language other than English (LOTE) collection should have at least 100 items.

State Library bulk loans are used to provide access to LOTE collections where there is insufficient demand to warrant the establishment of a collection by the library.

An English as Second Language collection is established where the CALD population is greater than 1% of the total LGA population.

Promotions and delivery  

Collections are easily accessible by CALD library users – for example, bilingual staff, cataloguing in first language, and signage.

A multicultural communications strategy, appropriate to area demographics, is integrated into the overall library or council communications program with a level of resources reflective of multicultural requirements.

Services and collections reflect community profiles and respond to needs identified in community consultations.


To meet the needs of diverse customer groups, a range of formal and informal monitoring mechanisms is in place, the output from which is used to inform the ongoing planning process.

Formal audience research is carried out at least biennially to assess the relevant success of libraries in meeting customer needs.

The library reflects multicultural community into ongoing planning and operation. Activities specific to CALD users are clearly identified (may include multilingual storytime for preschools, English language classes, educational seminars, cultural celebrations), measurable, and are part of the mainstream library service.

Suggested performance indicators

Provision of collections of languages other than English (LOTE) in relation to the demographic composition of the local community is recommended in these ways:

  • use of community language material is in proportion to the cultural characteristics and composition of the local community
  • one specialist Librarian employed where more than 20% of the population speak a language other than English at home  
  • two specialist librarians employed where more than 40% of the population speak a language other than English at home.
Points to consider
  • ageing profile of the different CALD communities in your LGA
  • level of literacy and education of different CALD communities in your LGA
  • English proficiency of different CALD communities
  • availability of LOTE material in specific languages  
  • format preferences of CALD communities
  • LOTE collections tend to have a high turnover rate and may require weeding and replacement at a higher rate than other collections

G15. Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples


To engage and consult with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities to ensure the library provides a welcoming and safe cultural space, services and collections, representative of their needs and aspirations.


The strategy Indigenous Spaces in Library Places: Building a Vibrant Public Library Network Inclusive of Indigenous Peoples and Communities and the associated toolkit provide guidance to the NSW public library network in enhancing services dedicated to the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. 


Create a visible Indigenous presence in the library space — for example, through signs (e.g. welcome or acknowledgement of the local Aboriginal community and traditional owners), Aboriginal flags, displays and artwork.

Establish links with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the community in order to receive guidance and assistance in the consultation and negotiation process.

Ensure library staff receive cultural competency training.

Ensure all library staff have some awareness of the Aboriginal history of the local area, including the traditional owners and local language groups. Sensitivity to historical events and locations is important.


Liaise with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups and associations regarding shared aspirations and programs — for example, Reconciliation groups and Land Councils.

Develop working relationships with appropriate government organisations and educational institutions in connection with the provision of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Consult local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities regarding establishment and operation of library services for their community.

Increase outreach activities to Indigenous communities and promote services through radio, television, newspapers, brochures and library displays as appropriate.

Collections and programs

Develop collections related to Australian Indigenous history and culture acquiring materials written by, as well as about, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; ensure collections contain contemporary works, that represent the vibrancy and resilience of Aboriginal culture today; consult the community to see which texts are not representative of current historical views (e.g. racist comments, dated anthropological texts).

Acknowledge and protect the cultural and intellectual property of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as owners of all aspects of their traditional knowledge and cultural expression in all forms of media and documentation.

Facilitate appropriate access to library archives and information resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Collaborate with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples and communities to create and share stories including collecting local histories relating to experiences of the Indigenous community, collecting ephemera, collaborating with Indigenous artists.

Collaborate/work in partnership with the local Aboriginal community to provide programs and events driven by communities needs and aspirations (e.g. digital literacy, language programs etc).

Expand the range of Indigenous employment opportunities in the library including traineeships.

Suggested performance indicators  

  • frequency of engagement with representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to ensure relevant collections and service provisions; consider the variety of types of consultations (e.g. family history, local studies collections, oral histories)
  • number of events involving the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community per annum (e.g. recognition and participation in NAIDOC week, Sorry Day, Indigenous Literacy Day)
  • number of staff completing cultural competence training and Indigenous family history training
  • percentage of staff trained in cultural competence

G16. Services for people with disability


To facilitate and enable full and active participation and access to collections, services, programs, and work spaces by people with disability.


Library spaces

Accessible entrance and parking, physical access to and within library buildings, which enables access for people with a disability, is provided in accordance with appropriate legislation and relevant building standards.

Wayfinding, disability symbols and signage are displayed in appropriate formats, e.g. large print, Braille.

Collections and programs

The collection development policy includes sections outlining the acquisition, scope, formats, purposes and management of library materials designed to assist and be used by people with disability e.g. alternative formats such as large print books, audiobooks and audio-described DVDs are provided to cater for people with vision impairment.

Collections including alternative format resources are provided, with appropriate service delivery, in response to community profile and demand.

Accessibility information should be included in program advertisements (e.g. wheelchair access to venue, hearing loop availability in meeting room).

Accessibility is considered in developing public programs, in consultation with community organisations.

Technology and digital services

The library’s ICT plan covers planning for and provision of adaptive technologies.

Assistive technology devices are provided to enable people with disability to access information in both print and electronic formats. For example, screen reading computer software, magnifying devices and book or tablet holders.

Website design meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA accessibility standards.

Policies and services

Flexible lending periods and loan limits are embedded into the library’s policies.

Free home library service delivery is offered to members who are unable to attend the library due to illness or disability (see Library Act 1939, section 10).


Training by persons suitably qualified in the area of disability and access issues is delivered to all library staff, so that they may assist customers with disability.

A professional member of staff is responsible for coordinating services for people with disability, including staff training and professional development.

Suggested performance indicators

  • the library is included in the council’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan
  • the library provides adaptive technology on some public access PCs
  • per annum use of designated equipment

G17. Services for young people


To provide access to materials and services which meet the identified needs of children and young people in the community.

For the purposes of this guideline and program delivery the following definitions are used:

  • children (0–12 years)
  • young adults (13–18 years)

Relevant standards: S6 to S8 staffing levels for children and young adult services.


The library’s policy for young people accords with relevant local, state and federal government policies, and includes:

  • service statement
  • parental responsibility statement
  • child-safe policies.

Collecting policies for young people’s library materials (including acquisitions and management) are included in the library’s Collection Development Policy.

A percentage of the library’s collections budget is allocated to young people’s resources appropriate to the demographics of the community.

Staff responsible for services to young people should either directly select material or create selection profiles for use to aid suppliers in their selection of material to suit the needs of young people in the area.

Mechanisms exist which allow participation of young people in identifying their library service needs, wants and preferences

Development of age appropriate library programs, including outreach services, collections, and budget for young people’s services is undertaken by librarian/s with appropriate skills

Young people of any age are issued with their own library card with full borrowing privileges.

Young people have access to a full range of library materials subject to parental guidance and relevant legislation

Date of birth of members is recorded to allow data on age breakdown of customers to be extracted for reporting reasons, including comparison against statistics collected by other agencies which may define ‘children’ and ‘youth’ differently.

Suggested performance indicators

  • numbers per annum attending programs and services targeted at children and young adults
  • library membership for children and young adults (per cent of children and young adult population in the community)
  • number of recurrent programs targeted at specific age groups per annum
  • loans per annum from children’s and young adult collections

G18. Services for older people


To ensure that older members of the community can access and use library collections, services and programs.  

Relevant standards S6 to S8, Staffing


Council management, social and cultural plans cover library strategies for addressing the needs of older people.

Library works with Council on initiatives for older people.

Older library customers represented in community consultations, surveys and focus groups; library provides venue for some focus groups.

Older people identified as target group in library planning.

Needs of active engaged and frail aged identified in library planning.

Older people identified as target group in marketing plans.

Needs of active engaged and frail aged identified in marketing plans.

Library promotes services to other relevant providers, e.g. community health workers, GPs, community workers.

Library budgets for resources for older people and people with disabilities reflect priorities and area demographics.

Staff trained to meet the needs of older people.

Partnerships developed with community organisations such as Council Access Committee, Meals on Wheels, U3A, Senior Citizens’ groups, Computer Pals, Better Hearing Australia, Vision Australia, Friends of the Library.

Collection development policies provide for input from community groups, including active and housebound people.  

Relevant collections include:

  • health and legal information in plain English
  • resources to support lifelong learning
  • large print and audio books
  • local history
  • genealogy and family history
  • community language materials, including newspapers and magazines
  • ageing issues addressed in the collection
  • health and carer information.

Appropriate technology includes internet access and programs for older people including Tech Savvy Seniors.

Facilities comply with guideline G12.

Services and programs

Home library services available to carers as well as housebound individuals.

Opportunities provided for support groups to meet.

Intergenerational programming, e.g. young people teaching SMS and internet skills, older people working with younger people on local history and oral history projects.

Technology assistance and training sessions address the needs of older people.

Appropriate spaces provided, e.g. well-lit quiet reading areas.

G19. Home library services


To provide access to library information and resources for those community members who are unable to physically access their local library for any reason.

Relevant standard: S8. Staff members — special responsibilities for targeted services


Home library service is available to all eligible residents.

The library has a policy on eligibility for home library service.

All resources held by the library including the reservation and interlibrary loan systems are to be made available to home library service customers.

Customer profiles are maintained to ensure appropriate selection of materials.

Home library service is staffed by suitably qualified library staff.

Membership is based on physical need and no age restriction applies.

Service is available to carers who are housebound.

Bulk loans are provided to residential and day care establishments.

Loan periods, item restrictions and frequency of delivery are determined by the library service and comply with WHS regulations.

A vehicle suitably modified according to applicable work health and safety guidelines is provided.

Staff liaise with community organisations, nursing homes and day care centres to promote the service.

Staff receive training in:

  • manual handling
  • first aid
  • communication with aged/disabled
  • disability awareness
  • personal safety and advanced driving skills
  • multicultural awareness (when appropriate)

Home Library Service membership forms contain a component providing permission for staff members to enter customers’ property.

Staff have access to mobile phones and wear name badges at all times.

Home library service customer satisfaction survey is conducted every 2–4 years.

Suggested performance indicators

  • annual loans for home library service
  • proportion of eligible population receiving home library service
Things to consider

The Guidelines to section 10 of the Library Act 1939 discuss free delivery for home library services. 

Guideline 4: Free Delivery states that:

‘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

A remote central library may not be the most appropriate to deliver a home library services in local communities. For libraries in regional library arrangements, a home library service in local communities. For libraries in regional library arrangements, a home library service should therefore be resourced and delivered at the local level.