State Library Victoria




Economic modelling demonstrates that every dollar invested in Victorian public libraries generates $4.30 worth of benefits to the local community.

The report 'LIBRARIES WORK! The socio-economic value of public libraries to Victorians' was prepared for the State Library Victoria and the Public Libraries Victoria Network. It shows that public libraries deliver significant economic and social benefits to the Victorian community, but that library funding has not kept pace with demand.

The objectives of our research were to update 2011 data on the welfare contributions of Victorian public libraries. We did this update by independently:

  • estimating the costs, benefits and net benefits (or community welfare gains) generated by Victorian public libraries in 2016–17
  • assessing the economic value added and employment generated by public library services in their local economies, and
  • examining existing funding levels and the case for increased funding.

Victorian public libraries receive more than 30 million visits a year. They are operated and mainly funded by local government, with only 15 per cent state government funding (2016-17).

This report calls for funding partners – such the state government and the Australian government – to consider additional investment in public library services, knowing there is almost no risk of generating diminishing returns for the Victorian community.

SGS Economics and Planning Libraries Work

Public libraries have evolved beyond their traditional role of housing book collections. The report shows that those who visit libraries appreciate free access to both physical and digital resources and programs within a safe and welcoming space that encourages social inclusion. Even those who don’t use libraries appreciate that they will be there for them in the future and that they are there right now for those who do need them.

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