State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria

New research for State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria finds the positive impacts of public libraries on communities outweigh the costs by double.

Public libraries improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and the community. Library services have a positive impact by providing access to physical collections, meeting spaces, technology and the internet, or more recent programs targeted at holistic social, physical, and mental health and wellbeing.

State Library Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria commissioned SGS and Prescience Research to estimate public libraries' value to health and wellbeing.

We identified:

  • The extent to which community members link public libraries with improved health and wellbeing
  • Which public library services and programs are most associated with improved health and wellbeing
  • The value community members place on public library services and programs, and
  • The value that individual library services generate for their respective communities reflects the demographic composition of their communities and the library services on offer in that location.

Our analysis shows that Victorians who engage with public libraries enjoy better health and wellbeing than those who don’t. Engaging with a public library is associated with a statistically significant and material improvement in Subjective Health & Wellbeing.

From our research, we found that Victorian adults believe public libraries help with health and wellbeing because they:

  • Are important for their literacy, creativity and knowledge
  • Are a place where they feel safe or belong
  • Help them feel connected to their community
  • Help with their mental wellbeing, and
  • Help them access government and business goods and services.

The average value that community members place on public libraries across Victoria is $73.10 per adult each year.

Community value is the amount community members are willing to contribute to a particular product or service. For public libraries, community value (CV) increases the more communities use library services. The community value of public library services can be split into three tiers:

  • Physical collections CV = $24.00 per annum
  • Digital collections, staff assistance, technology and internet access (CV = $7.00-$9.00 per annum each)
  • Meeting spaces, social, mental, and physical health programs ($3.00-$5.00 per annum each).

Across all Victorian public libraries' annual benefits generated are twice the annual provisioning costs.

The annual benefits of public library services are $400.8 million, whereas the costs are $240.6 million per annum, meaning that Victorian public libraries generate a net annual benefit of $234.7 million in health and wellbeing benefits.

Read the report

SGS Economics and Planning Project Cover
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