Co-location and joint-use libraries

A co-located library has its own distinct space within a wider complex or set of buildings. It may share a foyer, meeting rooms and amenities with other tenants, however the public library functions are managed separately to the other functions within the complex. In NSW it is increasingly common for public libraries to be co-located with other facilities, for example local government services, community centres, museums, galleries or community health centres.

A joint-use library is one in which two or more distinct groups of users are served in the same library premises, the governance of which is collaboratively agreed between two or more separate authorities. Examples include a joint public/school library, or a joint public /TAFE /University Library. Joint-use libraries are rare in NSW.

In determining whether a joint-use library may be an appropriate solution for a local community there are numerous factors of governance, operational matters and different legislative frameworks that need to be considered.  The needs of the different communities using the facility must be compatible. 

A number of differences exist between the legislation that sets out the operating environments of higher education facilities, school libraries and public libraries.  These would need to be considered in the management model of a joint-use library, including:

  • Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (NB: different exceptions apply to educational institutions and public libraries)
  • Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth)
  • Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995 (Cth) s53
  • Library Act 1939 (sets out that any person is entitled to enter a public library premises) 
  • Library Regulation 2018 (sets out that library staff may exclude library users who interfere with any other person’s use of the library)
  • Inclosed Lands Protection Act 1901 (schools regulate access to premises using this legislation)
  • Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998  (public library staff are not automatically in “child-related employment” unless their role is classified by their employer as being child-related and requiring a Working With Children Check.  Public library staff are not mandatory reporters under the legislation).

Library Council of NSW Guidelines

The Library Council of NSW issues guidelines for the local authorities operating NSW public libraries under section 10(5) of the Library Act 1939.   Two of the guidelines relate directly to co-located and joint-use facilities:
People Places: a guide for planning public library buildings
File Guidelines on joint-use libraries