The statistics are in and the news is outstanding. Queensland Public Libraries continue to deliver relevant and quality services to their communities with the evidence seen in the 5 year trends. Queensland Local Councils continue to invest in their libraries with a 6% increase on the 2015/16 financial year bringing the total expenditure on public library services in Queensland to more than $246 million Aus. Over $30 million is spent on collections resulting in more than 960,000 items being made available to Queenslanders.
For the first time since 2009–10 there has not been a significant decline in loans to members with 36 million loans generated from over 7 million collection items across the State. More than 21.9 million visits, 18 million catalogue searches and 11.5 million library website visits signify a healthy, vibrant and relevant public library industry. Library members are also on the up with over 2 million Queenslanders holding a library card. This represents 42% of the total population of the State which continues to be above the national average of 39%.
The big successes for the year are the increase in programs and events offered by Queensland Public Libraries. Libraries in Queensland are innovating and responding to their local community needs by providing in excess of 75,000 programs and events per annum, an 8% increase on the previous year. The need in communities for the programming offered by libraries is also reflected in the impressive 13.7% increase in attendance with over 1.6 million attendees. Queensland Libraries are embracing programming opportunities within their communities to great effect. Learning, Literacy, and Connecting are core to their programming offer and this is clearly resonating with people across the State.
Queensland Public Libraries have also been trusted by the State Government to deliver the First 5 Forever family literacy program into every community in the State with $5 million extra funding per year for 4 years. This program is administered by the State Library of Queensland. There has been a dramatic increase in early and family literacy programs across the State and a big body of resources has been developed for libraries and parents to access to improve their child’s literacy outcomes. This increase is continuing with a 10% increase in the Early and Family Literacy programs offered by libraries in the past year resulting in a further 14% increase in attendance.
There has also been a recent focus on digital literacy across the State with the State Library of Queensland Tech Savvy Seniors Queensland program, sponsored by Telstra, and the rise in focus on #STEM activities in public libraries in Queensland. Over 16,000 digital literacy programs were offered in 2016–17 reaching over 100,000 Queenslanders which represented an amazing 30% increase in attendance.
This success story is supported by Local Councils recognising the importance of qualified library staff as a steady ratio of an increasingly diverse workforce that is increasing in absolute terms. Library staff still do reference queries and information remains a core service component of Queensland public libraries with over 2.75 million inquiries being fielded — a 12% increase on the previous year. This represents 1,800 inquiries for every FTE position annually.
Congratulations must go to every Library Manager, Librarian and library staff member across Queensland for actively innovating their service offer and responding to community need — all the evidence is there for everyone to see. Queensland Libraries rock! #Qldlibrariesrock
The full statistical bulletin for Queensland Public Libraries is available from the State Library of Queensland website. My thanks to Russell Varney from the State Library who made his graphs available to me for this blog post.