This is the second edition of Civica’s intrinsic value of libraries as public spaces research series, developed in collaboration with the Institute for Public Policy and Governance (IPPG) at the University of Technology Sydney.
The intrinsic value of libraries research series has examined the Australian and New Zealand library space over the past few years, noting the impact of digital on the traditional roles of these institutions. The first report in this series established that libraries have changed from being lenders of books to being thriving community hubs offering an array of services. It provided initial thinking on the value of libraries as online public spaces in particular and also established that over the years, "online” will play a major role if these institutions are to remain relevant for their communities. It did this by focusing on the views of library and council employees; however, the current report goes a step further to include the users as well.
This report examines the perspectives of both providers and users of library services from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom to decode the value of online library spaces and digital services from the users’ perspective while noting their behaviour and preferences as they interact with their libraries and use their resources. The report paints a positive picture of innovative library practice of the future. It suggests that even though libraries are adopting a hybrid physical-digital model of library service, there is a need to communicate this to the wider community. Although libraries have been operating in this space for many years, for many users, libraries are still regarded as primarily physical spaces that contain books and other media. There needs to be a proactive shift that affirms their presence in the hybrid physical-digital space that could be addressed through partnerships and collaboration to promote greater user uptake of online library services.