Understanding Australian public library responses to the COVID-19 crisis

ALIA Library

Garner, Jane; Wakeling, Simon; Hider, Philip; Jamali, Hamid; Kennan, Mary Anne; Lymn, Jessie; Mansourian, Yazdan; Randell-Moon, Holly

On 24th March 2020 the Prime Minister of Australia declared the immediate closure of libraries across the country as part of the national attempt to slow the rate of COVID-19 infections. This meant over 1,600 public library service points across the country in urban, regional and remote locations, were no longer able to offer services on their premises.
This research aimed to explore the response by public libraries across Australia to the COVID-19 crisis. Its findings will assist public libraries in understanding their own roles and performance in a community crisis and will enable them to better prepare for and react to similar crises in the future so that community needs are met as efficiently and effectively as possible. In addition, the research aimed to identify possible trends in future service and resource provision resulting from measures put in place during the COVID-19 crisis.
It is important to note that the protracted nature of the pandemic has meant that many public libraries across Australia are still facing significant operational challenges. We therefore recognise that examples of innovation and best practice are still emerging, and that in many cases public library staff have yet to be afforded the space and time needed for effective reflection on their response to the crisis.

Wagga Wagga, NSW: Charles Sturt University