The Libraries Change Lives initiative commences this month at Frankston to highlight the economic and social benefits public libraries bring to the state, and to our region.
Developed by Public Libraries Victoria Network and State Library Victoria, Libraries Change Lives is a statewide project designed to build community support and attract additional state government funding for the state’s 272 public libraries, which attract more than 30 million visitors a year.
New economic modelling demonstrates that every dollar invested in public libraries generates $4.30 of benefits for the state. At the local level, every dollar invested in Frankston City Libraries is delivering $5.10 of benefits to our community.
Public libraries have evolved beyond their traditional role of housing collections to offer vital community services, including digital connectivity, support for all kinds of literacy (including early years, financial and digital), universal access to information and government services.
Today’s libraries are about services and programs as much as physical collections. No other institution offers the same personal help, equal and free access to information, social engagement, and sense of safety and belonging.
From family history workshops, seniors’ technology programs, to story-time sessions for preschool children, public libraries offer an incredible breadth of services to support community members at every stage of life.
This month we are launching the Libraries Change Lives campaign to demonstrate public libraries are a must-have community service that can play an even greater role in growing the Victorian economy and delivering social benefits.
The research from SGS Economics shows public libraries deliver more than $1 billion in benefits to the Victorian community each year, and drive over $328 million in economic activity.
Frankston City Libraries welcomed 386,000 people during 2017-18, engaging them in diverse programs such as Book Club, Code Club, magic shows, poetry, writing and illustrating, workshops, author talks, and more.
Frankston City Libraries delivers $18,347,000 in net benefits to the community.
It also make a positive impact on the local economy, contributing $6.4 million to Gross Regional Product through job creation (direct and indirect), expenditure and the economic activity local library services trigger.
Speaking on behalf of the sector, Public Libraries Victoria Network President Joseph Cullen said many libraries were grappling with booming visitation and increased community demands for services. More people are using public libraries than ever before. About a third of Victorians are members, and last year libraries recorded more than 30 million visits – the equivalent of five visits for every Victorian.
“Libraries are facing escalating demand for space, longer opening hours, expanded programs and access to online services. We want to meet those community expectations, but we need more state government funding to do it,” Mr Cullen said.
“Libraries provided 4 million free Wi-Fi sessions last year – double the previous year. When one in eight Victorian households does not have internet access, we need libraries to bridge the digital divide.
“We can also do more to support early years’ literacy. We know that most children who start school behind, stay behind. More than 15,000 preschool children and their families attend Story Time at a library each week. That’s a great start but we know we can do more by reaching out to disadvantaged communities.”
Victorian public libraries change lives by offering communities a place to learn, create and belong.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.LibrariesChangeLives.org.au