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Completed research projects

Information and reports about research projects that have been completed.

Regional Library Models Project

The Centre for Local Government (CLG) at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) was engaged by the State Library of New South Wales to undertake research to explore and recommend regional management models for NSW public libraries. The review of literature and extensive engagement process undertaken by CLG, directly engaged with representatives from the NSW State Library and public library managers from different library models across NSW.

Public libraries in NSW are managed by local councils in accordance with the Library Act 1939, with assistance from the State Government though the State Library. At present approximately 68 councils are party to regional library agreements which are enabled by s12 of the Act. Effectively this means that one council provides library services (or an aspect of library services) to neighbouring councils. Councils that are not party to regional library arrangements run their own public libraries, but often cooperate with neighbouring council libraries to some extent.  In 2011 the Act was amended to add s12A which enables councils to propose alternate models for regional cooperation on libraries.

The project included a literature review, stakeholder interviews, case studies and the development of a guide to regional library management models in NSW.  These documents were endorsed by the Public Libraries Consultative Committee at their meeting on 7 December 2015.

Mobile Libraries and Outreach Service Models in NSW Public Libraries

The State Library of NSW commissioned a project to explore the mobile and outreach services that are currently offered by NSW public libraries. The report identifies the range and scope of NSW public library mobile and outreach service models; explores the strengths, weaknesses, benefits and opportunities of different outreach models and provides good practice guidelines for outreach service models in NSW public libraries.

PDF iconMobile & Outreach Services, NSW public libraries: Practice, standards and guidelines

Building on the Bookend Scenarios

2014 marked the 75th anniversary of the NSW Library Act.  As well as focussing on past achievements of the public library network, this was an opportunity to consider the future for public libraries. The framework developed as part of the PDF icon2009 Bookends Scenarios  (PDF 5Mb) provided the ideal vehicle for this analysis.
The State Library again engaged the Neville Freeman Agency to assist, and the Building on the Bookends project was conceived.
The project involved carrying out research, interviews and workshops with over 50 representatives from NSW public libraries,  the State Library and library stakeholders to answer the question: what do we need to do in order for public libraries to be successful in 2030?
The culmination of the project is the Building on the Bookends Scenarios Report.  The report tracks how we have been travelling along the scenario pathways developed in 2009 and presents a series of strategic options that libraries could implement in order be innovative, sustainable and resilient in the future.

Nonfiction collections in NSW public libraries

Over the last decade patterns in nonfiction development and usage have changed significantly. Anecdotally NSW public libraries have observed a shift to internet sources for non-fiction information and a reduction in the size of reference and lending adult nonfiction collections, and significant decreases in junior nonfiction collection size and usage.

However preliminary analysis of nonfiction collection data by the State Library of across NSW public libraries indicates that this decrease in size and demand for nonfiction varies dramatically across different library services. Variation in collection sizes and patterns of usage suggests that factors affecting non fiction collections are more complex than access to alternative sources on the internet.

FileNon-fiction collections in NSW public libraries - survey results  (Word 208.5Kb)

Guidelines for e-collections in NSW public libraries

Ecollections are growing in public libraries.  Some have turnover rates very similar to print publications, while others are substantially lower, sometimes even less than the collection size.  Book turnover for 2013/2014 is 2.9, for ebooks it is 1.65 and for eaudio it is 1.72. Ereaders and tablets are available for loan in some public libraries.  Some are well used, and others are never use. 

Deeper analysis of data and understanding of collection promotion and development enables public libraries to identify good practices ecollections and ereaders and enable NSW public libraries to maximise the benefits and reach of a significant investment.

FileE-collections in NSW public libraries - survey results  (Word 400Kb)

Community information audit

The NSW public library network plays a key role in connecting their communities to a range of local services. Many do this through use of online databases such as LINCS which is an online community information directory provided by a partnership of more than 30 local councils, state government departments and community organisations.

In light of freely available information on community services online and a growing presence of community information agencies on the web the value and role of libraries in the provision in community information needs to be critically considered.

The project undertook research to identify current trends in community information and the future role of libraries in the provision of information. It looked at how libraries are currently providing community information, service models and sources –online, print, LINCS, social media.

FileCommunity information audit - survey results  (Word 687Kb)

Cost benefit analysis of RFID in public libraries

In 2012 the State Library of NSW commissioned Huegin Consulting to undertake a cost benefit analysis on using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in NSW public libraries. The report of the project offers a practical business case framework which libraries can use to ascertain the most effective and cost efficient service model for circulation and stock management in a variety of contexts.

PDF iconA business case framework for RFID in NSW  (PDF 2MB)

Datavisualisation for local studies

In 2012 the State Library of NSW commissioned Dr Mitchell Whitelaw of the University of Canberra to develop prototype image explorers for public library picture collections, one for individual library collections, and the other one using the entire image collection accessible from Trove.

People Places 2012

In 2010 the NSW Public Library Network Research Committee commenced a project to conduct a major review of People Places: a guide for public library buildings in New South Wales.

The 2012 revision of People Places is comprehensive and reflects significant change in public library design and services over the past 7 years. Changes in technology, collection formats, increasing programs and changes in community expectations have fundamentally changed the way people are using library spaces.

The review was undertaken by the State Library of NSW in collaboration with the NSW Public Library Network Research Committee. This new edition of People Places has been developed in close consultation with library staff and practitioners involved in the planning, building and management of public libraries in NSW.

The process included a literature review with national and international benchmarking, as well as consultation with library staff across the NSW public library network including stakeholder workshops, surveys and case study evaluations.  The case study evaluation assessed the application of the 2005 People Places building guidelines to 17 recently built libraries and identified strengths and opportunities to improve on the current benchmark methodologies. 

People Places 2012, as well associated planning tools examples of best practice identified as part of this project, is now available.

Client satisfaction survey tool for NSW public libraries

In 2011 Taverner Research were engaged to develop a tool to measure client satisfaction consistently across NSW libraries and support libraries to collect information from their users which will inform the planning and provision of local library services.

The model for measuring library user satisfaction was developed in close consultation with library managers and staff across the NSW public library network. Focus groups and user testing were undertaken with library staff and community members throughout the project to ensure the questionnaire was relevant and useful for measuring satisfaction with contemporary public library services.

A library user satisfaction survey and guidelines for implementation are now available on the state library website.

Stock quality health check 2011

In February 2010 the State Library established a project team to develop a practical tool for NSW public libraries to undertake an assessment of the relevance, depth and range of their adult fiction collections in relation to the communities they service.  The Adult Fiction Stock Quality Health Check is now available.

The team is currently working on a Stock Quality Health Check tool for Children and Young Adult collections

A benefit costs analysis: Outsourcing of acqusitions, cataloguing and processing in NSW public libraries

In February 2009 the NSW Public Library Network Research Committee commenced a project which analysed the costs and benefits of outsourcing acquisitions, cataloguing and processing in a variety of contexts relevant to the NSW public library network.

The report,  PDF iconA Benefit Cost Analysis:  Outsourcing of Acquisitions, Cataloguing and Processing in NSW Public Libraries  provides an evidence based framework and a practical tool which will assist public libraries and local councils to make informed choices about the most effective use of available resources.

Analysis of public library funding for collections

In late 2008 the State Library of NSW and Public Library Network Research Program, commissioned the ABS to undertake research on the impact of NSW public library funding for collections over the last 10 years on the capacity of NSW public libraries to develop and maintain collections which meet the standards for collections set out in Living Learning Libraries: standards and guidelines for NSW public libraries.

The final report  PDF iconAnalysis of Public Library Funding for Collections  is now available.

Enriching Communities: The value of public libraries in New South Wales

This Enriching Communities research highlights the contribution made by public libraries to a sustainable New South Wales community, and provides a means of quantifying that contribution.  The project was completed in March 2008.

NSW public libraries and eGovernment

This eGovernment project investigates the role that public libraries play in supporting eGovernment initiatives.  The Library, the PLM, the PLC and a selection of New South Wales public libraries, government departments and local agencies were involved in the research.  The project was completed at the end of 2004.