Victoria welcomes 2800 new residents per week. Public libraries receive over 30 million visitors annually, equivalent to five visits per Victorian, and visitation continues to outpace population growth.
Public libraries are not equipped to support the surge and will not be able to help develop healthy communities without investment in operational costs, physical and online infrastructure and specialist programs.
Libraries build literate, productive
and engaged communities and generate $4.30 in benefit for every dollar invested.
They foster literacy of all kinds
Literacy is a critical factor in economic and social participation, removing barriers to education and employment.
Victoria’s public libraries build healthy and productive communities by supporting all kinds of literacy, at all stages of life.
About 40 per cent of public libraries provide adult literacy activities or English language programs. Libraries are the primary providers of early years’ literacy programs for children aged 0-3 and their families. Public libraries also support digital literacy through the provision of training and free access to computers and the internet.
They create healthy communities
Today’s libraries are vibrant neighbourhood hubs offering social interaction and shared cultural experiences.
More than one-third of Victorians participate in a library program every year, from poetry slams and book launches to conversation cafes, manga clubs and coding workshops.
Public libraries support mental health by reducing social isolation and connecting communities through 47 public library services, 276 individual branches, 31 mobile library branches and 71 other library outlets.
They help build healthy and engaged communities, where everyone belongs, delivering a state-wide platform of programs and services that support community wellbeing.
They support culture and creativity
Public libraries are among Victoria’s most popular cultural institutions, providing free and equitable access to vast collections of books, films, music and more.
They nurture artistic endeavours of all kinds, providing a place for Victorians to write and create, to engage deeply with an art form, or develop their craft through maker spaces.
Public libraries play a fundamental role in ensuring that everyone is included in our state’s cultural life, deploying sophisticated programming that can be accessed for free by anyone in the community.
Access to cultural and creative assets and programs has myriad benefits, supporting the development of cultural literacy, an appreciation of diversity, and accessible arts experiences.
They provide public spaces
Communities need inclusive, well-designed public spaces.
Victorian libraries offer a mix of historic and contemporary public spaces that support community participation and social engagement. They are safe spaces where everyone is welcome, and everyone belongs.
Modern, purpose-built libraries are cultural and community hubs that anchor surrounding development and draw disparate groups to one space. They offer flexible designs to meet community needs, incorporating places to relax, with exhibition spaces and meeting rooms.
For research on the economic benefits of public libraries, click here.
Libraries are achieving a lot
and they can do more.
Develop lifelong literacy with support from children’s and youth librarians
Public libraries need more specialist children and youth librarians to connect with families who are not already engaged with library programs to combat educational disadvantage.
Public libraries can build early literacy as well as literacy in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Dedicated funding will deliver a cohesive approach to STEM programs in public libraries, and build staff capacity to provide learning opportunities.
Strengthen community mental health and wellbeing with social work programs
Victorian public libraries often find themselves on the front line on a range of societal issues. Every day, they are providing social and community services that address disadvantage.
Few library workers have specialised training to support people with complex needs. Public libraries can improve access to social support if they are enabled to engage trained social or youth workers to provide assistance where it is needed most.
Build libraries that serve communities with better library infrastructure and digital upgrades
Modern, accessible, digitally-enabled public library spaces provide critical community infrastructure and safe spaces that facilitate social engagement.
Public libraries can enhance social and economic participation in the community by offering modern, accessible building facilities, and improved access to digital resources.
Support Victoria’s growing population with a boost to operational funding
Public libraries need to be resourced to deliver sustainable programs and social support systems that serve Victorians at every life stage.
An increase to operational funding from the State Government would enable public libraries to meet the needs of growing communities with increased opening hours, improved collections and more specialist staff support.
For information on our proposal for investment
in Victorian public libraries, click here.