World is changing but public libraries here to stay

The State Library of NSW's latest futures report has confirmed “loud and clear” that public libraries are here to stay and will continue to adapt to whatever future we face, the State Library of NSW announced today.

According to NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive Alex Byrne: “The State Library led an innovative and influential project in 2009 called the Bookends Scenarios, which provided a stimulus to thinking about the future of public libraries across this state and beyond.

“The latest Building on the Bookends Scenarios report tracked how we have been travelling towards the scenarios developed in 2009.  Interestingly, no single scenario has become dominant, but some of the trends have developed faster than was expected five years ago.”

Four scenarios were developed by Australian futurists at the Neville Freeman Agency in collaboration with public librarians and the users of public libraries. They were shaped around the impact of information and communication technologies and how the public values libraries.

The latest findings show that some trends have emerged quicker than expected:

- Internet usage in NSW public libraries doubled between 2009/10 and 2013/14 to 7.8 million sessions, largely due to free WiFi offered by libraries where people can use their own devices
- re-emphasising the “local” and the value of libraries as public spaces.

“Public Libraries are vigorously responding with innovative programming and services, such as the Imaginarium which was recently launched at Port Macquarie-Hastings Library,” says Dr Byrne.

The full report is available on the State Library website, along with the original 2009 report

A media release is also available.