Impact of the 2021 COVID-19 lockdown on NSW public libraries

Public libraries in NSW have continued to adapt and innovate in response to the challenges that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Library staff member wearing a mask and pointing to a library delivery van

Richmond Upper Clarence Regional Library operates a Delivery to You service during lockdown

In June 2021, a rapid escalation in community transmission of COVID-19 resulted in the lockdown of Greater Sydney (as well as the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour) with a state-wide lockdown following in August. In response, the State Library of NSW conducted a survey of NSW public libraries to collect information about the effects of lockdown restrictions on library operations, staffing, programs and services. The survey covered the period 25 March to 28 August 2021. A total of 79 responses were received representing a cross-section of regional and metropolitan library services from across NSW.

The aim of the survey was to capture information about impact of lockdown restrictions on NSW public libraries and to understand how their previous experience in 2020 assisted them to form their response in 2021. 

Libraries detailed their response to the lockdown and how they adapted services during this period. They identified a range of barriers and challenges to delivering services and how they sought to address them. Although the lockdown proved to be a challenging time for library staff, the experience highlighted their resilience and ability to adapt and innovate.  

This report is a companion piece to the survey and report conducted in 2020 in partnership with Library Consultancy 641 DI, NSW Public Libraries - the COVID-19 response: report of a survey into how library services adapted to a pandemic

Results of the survey are available in Impact of the 2021 COVID-19 lockdown on NSW public libraries: report of a survey into how library services adapted to lockdown.

Download survey report