Multicultural collection distributed model

A new model for distributing the State Library's multicultural collections is coming

The State Library has been exploring new models for sharing multicultural collections with NSW public libraries.  Demand for the State Library’s multicultural collections has enjoyed significant growth in recent years, and a move to a distributed model of service has been recommended.  This model will make more of the collections available to public libraries on long term loan, resulting in immediate access for local communities.  

We will be working with NSW public libraries to transition to this new model in 2016/17.


The team has regularly reviewed procedures and implemented a range of alternate approaches for bulk loans since 2010.  Consistent annual growth in demand from public libraries has resulted in the current model of distribution becoming unsustainable, due to the high number of orders and returns which require packing, dispatch, unpacking and check-in.   Service updates and discussion of distribution models have taken place regularly at the Public Libraries Consultative Committee and NSWPLA Zone meetings over the past year.

Demand in 2015/16 exceeded our capacity to deliver, and exploration of alternate models over the year included:

  • Leichhardt and Blacktown piloting a centre of excellence approach, which involves housing and distributing the Italian and Gujarati collections respectively.
  • Large volume and long term loans are in place for a number of libraries, while other libraries are participating in a floating collection arrangement for large print and talking books.

However it is clear that there are many libraries that have high demand in a number of languages, and we would like to provide these libraries with long term loans of a larger number of items.

Distributed Model

The State Library proposes to lend hundreds, or thousands, of items across multiple languages to public libraries for a 12 month period.  Libraries that are medium to heavy users of the bulk loans service will be approached to participate.  We envisage that participating libraries will receive long term loans of collections that reflect local language needs in volumes that are based on demand over the past year.

Libraries are being contacted for consultation, including discussion of languages required and the number of items to be loaned.  A distributed model will make more of the collection directly available to the public from local libraries, rather than being stored in the State Library’s stacks awaiting order.  

The State Library will continue to hold a smaller central collection and circulate items to libraries that have lower levels of demand.

These changes will not affect bulk loans of English large print and talking books. A number of libraries are already borrowing larger and longer term loans of these collections and this is available to those interested.

Demand is very low for interlibrary loans of individual titles. In the event of an individual title request, we would put a hold on the item and recall it from the borrowing library.

Once the collections are in place locally, we will work with libraries on promotion.


Our timeline for transitioning to this model is June – August 2016, with items being distributed post-August.  Libraries are being contacted to discuss participation and potential loan volumes.  During this time, bulk loan requests will still be processed but there are likely to be delays while we work on the new model.    We may also recall items by language in batches to facilitate the distributed model implementation.


The team will contact libraries over June and July to discuss allocations and languages.  In the meantime you may wish to complete this form to assist with planning.   The FileRequests spreadsheetshows the number of multicultural bulk loan requests for each NSW public library  for July 2015 to June 2016. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What happens if a client reads everything I have in 6 months, but I have to keep the books for 12 months?  Can we request more books?
    Contact us and we may be able to arrange a swap with another library experiencing the same issue.
  2. Do I have to send bulk loans of the items I receive to other libraries on the State Library’s behalf?
    No. Under this model, you will receive a portion of a collection for your clients to use and you will not be required to distribute loans on our behalf.  The only exception may be if a request for an individual title is received from another library, we would recall the title from you and send a replacement item.
  3. Can I still order languages I might only get one request of each year?
    Yes, we will retain a portion of each collection here at the library to service libraries that have low levels of demand. If you are a medium to high use library we will provide you with the mix of languages that best meets your needs. In the event of one-off orders for other languages please use the order form as normal. 
  4. I don’t have enough space to take any, can I order bulk loans as I usually do?
    A limited service will be available from the State Library.  The preferred approach from medium to high use libraries is to move to the distributed model.  Please contact us to discuss how this transition may be facilitated.
  5. Can I have books in a language I don’t normally request?  I would like to attract a growing group in my community.
    Yes.  Depending on demand from high use libraries, we should be able to accommodate this.
  6. What if I have an individual request for a client, but the item is out to another library for 12 months?
    In the event of an individual request, we will recall the item from the holding library to send to you.
  7. I have one client who I request a lot of bulk loans for, but I can’t take 100 books for just one client.  Can I still request as I do now?
    Please contact us to negotiate a suitable amount of items.
  8. How many items can I take?
    We will work this out with libraries through negotiation to arrive at the figure most suitable.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact:

Abby Dawson, Coordinator Collection Services:

Oriana Acevedo, Multicultural Consultant: