Libraries Change Lives

Everyone is welcome at public libraries. They are the universal service that allows people to be themselves. They are the last revolving door in the community that does not charge a fee.  

Public Libraries Victoria attracted more than 30 million visits in 2017 – 18, and that number is growing.  

They are the biggest membership-based organisation in Victoria – More than 2 million Victorians have a library card. In this sense they demonstrate how Metropolitan Collaboration can be achieved, working collectively across municipal boundaries.  

Public Libraries are welcome havens for creatives. They host poetry slams, deliver conversation clubs, facilitate writers workshops, provide ideas and inspiration for story tellers through their collection. Many libraries host community art exhibitions. This provides unique opportunities for public libraries to help facilitate the decentralisation of Arts and Culture in Greater Melbourne. 

Time and again we hear stories from aspiring creatives that the library is a place where they feel welcome. A place where they can express themselves freely and gain recognition for their craft. 

Public Libraries will always be responsible for the storage and distribution of information – whether it be in the form of books, free access to PCs or free fast wifi. 

Today their role is much bigger  They help build happier, healthier and more resilient communities. They contribute to lifelong learning, provide safe public spaces, enable access to digital technology, strengthen communities and deliver significant socio-economic returns on investment.  

According to SGS Economics and Planning report Libraries Work! The socio-economic value of public libraries to Victorians, every $1 invested in public libraries returns $4.30 in benefits to the community. The report also found that increased investment will deliver an increased return at a similar rate. The net community welfare contribution of public libraries is estimated at $847 million 

Libraries host enormous reservoirs of potential in the people who use their services. Their capacity to thrive in the future depends on their ability to help people unlock their own potential. This could be through supporting the innovation ecosystem of Greater Melbourne and helping people upskill and reskill for the Future Skills of a new economy. 

Visit your local library to see for yourself! 

The Vital Statistics: 

Public Libraries have touchpoints across every community in Victoria: 

  • 272 individual branches 
  • 59 service points  
  • 47 public library entities  
  • 30 mobile libraries 

More people than ever are using Victoria public libraries: 

  • 30.5 million annual visits – the equivalent of five visits for every Victorian  
  • 5 million Wi-Fi sessions recorded annually  
  • 2.2 million library members     
  • Over a third of Victorians participate in a library program every year 
  • More than 15,000 Victorian pre-school children attend Storytime each week 

There is a strong economic case for investing in public libraries: 

  • $4.30 in benefits for every dollar invested   
  • $328 million in economic activity generated every year  
  • 2300 jobs supported 

Chris Buckingham is the President of Public Libraries Victoria 

If you are interested in the Innovative Ecosystems, Future Skills, Arts and Culture or Metropolitan Collaboration Taskforce please contact David Prior.