Australian Public Libraries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic launched

Canberra, 16 November 2021: Today a new research report into Australian public libraries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic was launched.

Two of the report’s authors Dr Jane Garner and Dr Simon Wakeling from Charles Sturt University presented their team’s research at a lunchtime session hosted by APLA Chair Viv Barton as part of the inaugural Research Review Seminar Series.

In March 2020, public libraries across Australia were closed as part of the national attempt to slow transmission of COVID-19, which meant that some 1,600 public library service points across the country in urban, regional and remote locations, closed their doors and could no longer offer face-to-face services.

The key finding of the research was that while public libraries are responding to the COVID crisis with agility, creativity and a strong commitment to customer service, this has sometimes come at a cost to staff wellbeing and may have been hampered by restrictive relationships with parent bodies.

The report explores the responses of public libraries across Australia to this crisis through a national survey of public library managers and case studies of library networks. In addition to the report and its recommendations, the research formed the basis for a journal article published in JALIA (Journal of the Australia Library and Information Association).

This research will also help public libraries in understanding their own roles and performance in a community crisis and will enable them to better prepare for and react to future crises so that community needs are met efficiently and effectively. In addition, following measures put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the research identified possible trends for future provision of services and resources.

You can read the full report here

The recording is available here and the session’s slides can be accessed here. News of the session has also been posted on the ALIA-APLA webpage

About the series:

The ALIA Research Review Seminar Series provides a platform for academic and practitioner researchers to share and discuss their work and projects with the wider library and information sector community. ALIA endeavours to support the process of research being translated into practice by bringing researchers together with professional practitioners and on-the-ground workers in an engaging, informal setting. If you would like to discuss your research or have an idea for the series, contact: [email protected]