Public libraries are much-loved and much-used facilities. Across Western Australia’s 233 public libraries, there are more than 870 000 active library members. In 2019 -20, they borrowed around 13 million physical items and around 2.3 million eBooks and audiobooks.
There is a need for significant, transformational change to deliver more efficient and flexible public library services to continue to meet our growing and diverse community needs. The Public Libraries Working Group (PLWG) leads this work on behalf of State and Local Government to “deliver more agile and innovative public library services and programs that respond to the diverse needs of Western Australian communities and are sustainable into the future".
The WA Public Libraries Strategy is the result of extensive research and consultation through the Public Libraries Working Group and with stakeholders including local government authorities.
Tiered Model to Support Public Library Service Delivery
A Framework for a new tiered model to support public library service delivery in Western Australia was endorsed by WALGA State Council and the Library Board of WA in May 2019. This aspirational framework means that local government public library services in Western Australia fall into one of three tiers primarily dependent on their population and capacity.
The endorsed Framework was phased in over 2019-20 and 2020-21. Support for libraries in regional and remote Western Australia has been incorporated into the new model and is now facilitated by SLWA using enhanced access to technology and on-line platforms to improve engagement.
Funding Allocation Model
The State Government provides SLWA with funds for the purchase of print and online materials for the State's 233 public libraries. Traditionally, this funding has been used exclusively for the purchase of print and online resources. The new model allows for local government to apply for some of their funding to be used to support library initiatives and public programs. The new model has been implemented from 1 July 2021.
One Card Project
As part of the WA Public Libraries Strategy the State Library of Western Australia commissioned AOT Consulting Pty Ltd to prepare a business case to scope requirements and assess options for a model to facilitate single library card access (one card) for the community throughout Western Australia. This proposal was rejected by State Treasury. State Library is currently investigating if the State Library’s library management system can be shared with Tier 2 and 3 local governments in a consortia arrangement.