This project, launched at the Daylesford Library on November 30, highlighted 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 state-wide 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.
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.
The Libraries Change Lives campaign aims to demonstrate public libraries as a must-have community service that can play an even greater role in growing the Victorian economy and delivering social benefits.
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.