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Free WiFi, non-traditional services boost NSW public library usage

NSW public library usage is at an all-time high thanks to free WiFi and ‘non-traditional library services’, according to statistics provided by local councils for 2013/14.

Physical visits to over 360 public libraries across NSW have increased by 30% since 2000, with 35 million visits recorded in 2013/14. Loans were up 5% with 45 million loans in the same period.

Public library program attendance has also increased, up 40% since 2008, with over 1.5 million people participating in more than 67,000 programs in 2013/14.

Visits to public library websites grew by 3 million to 12 million between 2012/13 and 2013/14 and onsite internet usage doubled between 2009/10 and 2013/14 to 7.8 million sessions.

NSW state librarian and chief executive Alex Byrne said in a statement that ‘free WiFi usage, virtual visits and, surprisingly, non‐traditional library services … are delivering the most staggering result’. Byrne listed seed libraries, ukulele kits, telescope collections and a Book Express Service for train commuters as examples of non-traditional library services.

The NSW Government’s $2 million Revitalising Regional Libraries program has seen WiFi hotspots delivered to public libraries in 126 rural and regional areas over the past four years. ‘It’s vital that country residents enjoy the same level of connectivity offered by public libraries in metropolitan areas,’ said Byrne.

The latest statistics cover the period from July 2013 to June 2014.


Category: Library news