The Mitchell Library Reading Room is temporarily closed for refurbishment. More information ›


Important update: Library events and opening hours. Read news item ›

Public libraries report spike in demand for books in language

Tuesday 17 March 2020

NSW residents are reading more and more books in languages other than English than ever before with the State Library of NSW reporting a 20% increase in requests from public libraries for multicultural material just in the last 12 months.

According to the State Librarian John Vallance: “We’re seeing a trend right throughout NSW, from Liverpool to Wagga Wagga, where some of the most popular collections with readers are books in languages that are not English.”

“For some libraries, the multicultural collections are in such high demand that they need to be replaced annually because the books are being read by so many people,” says Dr Vallance.

With almost one in three NSW residents born overseas, and around one in four speaking a language other than English, the State Library supplies books in 43 community languages to 374 public libraries in NSW.

Public libraries also hold their own collections which cater to the specific needs of their community. Over 50 languages are represented across NSW in collections that include books, ebooks, health information and newspapers, as well as English as a Second language (ESL) resources to support the independent learning of English.

Download full media release (PDF 105KB)