Libraries: a better investment than gold.

A new report from an independent firm of economists has found that Australia’s public libraries deliver benefits that are worth nearly three times the cost of running them – a fact that will come as no surprise to Australia’s 10 million registered library users.

If you put $100 into gold last year, it would be worth around $110 today. Compare that with the $290 return on every $100 invested in Australian public libraries.

The report into the value of public libraries, produced by SGS Economics, states that these services provide Australians with a net annual benefit of some $1.97 billion. “Importantly, the level of investment in public library services does not display a pattern of diminishing returns ... the larger the investment made into public libraries, the larger the benefits derived by the respective communities. Collectively these findings provide a strong basis for arguing for increased levels of funding for public library services.”

ALIA President Vanessa Little endorsed the findings of the report, “Libraries are just as important in the age of the ebook as they have been in the age of the print book. They are places where people can connect with each other, find out information and explore new ideas. Whether you are eight or 80, there’s plenty to experience at the library, and there is no doubt libraries improve the quality of life of everyone who uses them.”

A few facts about Australian public libraries in 2010-2011:[1]

·         There were 1,491 public library service points across Australia

·         Over 182 million items were lent to more than 10 million members of public libraries.

·         Over 114 million customer visits, or more than 9 million per month.

Download the full report on the Contribution of Australian Public Libraries.


For more information, contact:


Erin York, Media Coordinator, Australian Library and Information Association

T 02 6215 8219 M 0450 557871

Sue McKerracher, Executive Director, Australian Library and Information Association

T 02 6215 8215 M 0404 456749

State/territory information:

                                    Benefit cost ratio          No of registered library users

                                    SGS Economics            2010-2011


Queensland                 2.3                                1.98 million

New South Wales         3.2                                3.34 million

ACT                              4.1                                0.21 million

Victoria                        3.6                                2.57 million

Tasmania                     2.0                                0.13 million

South Australia             2.6                               0.82 million

Northern Territory         2.0                               0.07 million

Western Australia         2.6                                1.06 million

Australia total              2.9                                10.19 million


Tuesday 14 May 2013 9:30am