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The Vision in practice

The objectives and enablers of Realising our potential: A vision for Queensland public libraries (the Vision) are evident in practice across Queensland’s network of public libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs). The examples below show the impact and value of the work occurring across Queensland as libraries and IKCs strive toward becoming fully realised 21st century libraries or library-related hubs.

The Vision incorporates 10 enablers which relate to what libraries are, what they do and how they operate; or, what they aspire to be, aspire to do and how they aspire to operate. The enablers recognise the diversity of public libraries and IKCs, regardless of how far each has progressed in meeting the objectives of the Vision. While the examples have been allocated to one enabler for sharing, in most cases, they simultaneously realise many of the objectives and enablers.

To share how your library is realising the Vision in practice, email

You can also visit the Public Libraries Connect blog to read how libraries are putting the vision into practice.


Establishing an aspirational, contemporary and trusted narrative for 21st century libraries.

Language to Literacy Conference, Western Downs Regional Council

Western Downs Libraries led the region in a sharing and discussion of all things literacy when early childhood professionals gathered in Dalby for the Western Downs Language to Literacy Conference in May 2018. Developed by the Western Downs Early Years Reference Group and convened by Western Downs Libraries, the program featured distinguished keynote speakers, panel discussions, practical workshops and opportunities for networking which reaffirmed the role libraries play in actively supporting literacy learning and children’s development.

The conference brought together individuals and organisations from as far as Cunnamulla in western Queensland and Mackay in the Whitsundays in northern Queensland to create awareness of the range of services and their role in language to literacy development, foster a mutual understanding of what it means to support the language and literacy needs of families, and promote consistent messaging across services and the role of libraries for families. Participants reported they gained a wealth of knowledge, and ideas for community partnerships, that they felt empowered and motivated to implement in their own communities.

Future ready

Supporting the evolution of library services in response to new trends and emergent issues.

Cooroy Makerspace, Noosa Shire Council

The Cooroy Makerspace provides the opportunity to experiment with and learn about emerging technologies, including 3D printing, virtual reality (VR) and robotics. It supports the development of digital literacy skills in a collaborative environment through a suite of programs for all ages and abilities.

The first of its kind in the Noosa region, the makerspace has helped the Cooroy Library attract new audiences, strengthen existing relationships and foster meaningful partnerships. A maker community now gathers to create, invent and tinker, and creatives and entrepreneurs are keen to employ the digital platforms and spaces the library provides. This community lauds the ability to solve problems using technology without needing to rely on large technological corporations for support.  Library staff work alongside other council units, providing technology for competitions, conferences and other initiatives, and universities and other local agencies have committed to being involved in activating and promoting the space.

A new model of service delivery which is community-inspired and user-driven has emerged, where makerspace users interact with each other and share ideas. The makerspace has also benefitted the library through the development of a new revenue stream of paid induction classes, and through it being the driving force for library staff to gain experience using technology.

Entrepreneur workshops, Brisbane City Council

Brisbane City Council’s library service continues to evolve its suite of digital literacy programs for the community, to further develop skills for future success in life and work. Digital literacy programs delivered in libraries incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) learning, including coding and robotics, and also foster ‘enterprise’ skills – transferrable skills important for future work success including creativity and innovation, problem solving, design thinking and collaboration.

In 2017-18, the library service was successful in obtaining funding from a Public Library Strategic Priorities Grant to further evolve library learning programs and build skills in young people for their future success in the digital economy. Council engaged a local startup made of young entrepreneurs to develop workshops exploring enterprise skills and entrepreneurship. Workshop content, delivered by young entrepreneurs, included technology immersion, exploration and creativity, ideas generation, design thinking and vision and strategy planning. The aim was to deliver 12 workshops with 300 participants, however significant demand saw Council extend this to 24 workshops delivered in libraries with more than 500 attendees.

The feedback from both children and parents was extremely positive, and reflected the aims and outcomes sought in the original brief including fun skill building and real-life learning for future success. Particularly well received by participants were the benefits of engaging with young entrepreneurs and the opportunity to pitch and present a business idea. The project has delivered exciting new programs which resonate with the community and also contribute to the future success of individuals and the city.

Commitment to improve

A consistent evidence-based commitment to ongoing evaluation of our programs, services and collections.

Research and evaluation, Brisbane City Council

Brisbane City Council's library service operates in a culture of continuous improvement, continually evolving and improving Brisbane Libraries to meet the 21st Century needs of residents now and into the future. This is achieved through a program of research and evaluation which feeds into the strategic and business planning for the branch ensuring the library service aims to continuously improve the facilities, services, collections and programs that are provided in 33 branches, mobile and pop-up libraries and online 24 hours, seven days a week.

A combination of regular evaluation of performance metrics, customer research plus assessment against standards such as the Queensland Public Library Standards and Guidelines forms the evidence base from which to assess performance, and identify areas for improvement to inform the strategy development.

Central to the library service’s planning is its customer focused approach. Annual customer research gathers a wide range of information including library satisfaction, patterns of use and behaviour, demographic information, plus feedback on areas for improvement. Results are analysed to identify emerging trends, insights and implications for consideration. Over more than 10 years this research has also evolved to test new service concepts, and evaluate refurbishment and new library projects. Results assist with preparation of business cases, demonstrating the success of projects and also informing and improving future project delivery.

Specialised research has also been undertaken to complement the annual research for deeper engagement around facilities, future libraries and future collections. This research data is combined with statistical data and professional knowledge to deliver future facing strategy, robust reporting and strong advocacy for the library service across many internal and external stakeholders.


Ensuring our library leaders and workforce are skilled and future focused.

Preserving local language, Hope Vale Indigenous Knowledge Centre

Hope Vale Indigenous Knowledge Centre (IKC) Coordinator Shirley Costello is an avid reader with a passion for Guugu Yimidhirr language and culture that’s evident on entering the IKC, where signage invites visitors to balngala (pull) or thuurrngala ‘push’ the door open. It’s easy to understand Shirley’s pride, as Guugu  Yimidhirr is one of the most notable Aboriginal languages, being the first ever recorded and the source of the English word ‘kangaroo’.

Shirley works to promote language and culture to Community members of all ages through a variety of initiatives. History, language and culture are shared through weekly radio sessions, which in turn sparked an interest in Guugu Yimidhirr language classes (now on offer at the IKC). A qualified teacher, Shirley also strives to improve her own understanding of the language, not hesitating to contact other Elders or staff of the Pama Language Centre if she doesn’t feel she has just the right word or phrase to convey her meaning. She’s also keen to share her knowledge with a wider audience, having recently been interviewed by the ABC about local language preservation.

If Shirley has anything to say about it, future generations of the Guugu Yimidhirr  people from the Hope Vale area will see a resurgence in the use of their traditional language, and the Hope Vale IKC will be a big part of the journey.

Our place in the public realm

Extending and promoting the value of the library as a vital place and service in community life.

Multi Touch Hub, Paroo Shire Council

A range of new audiences have been attracted to Cunnamulla Library with the addition of a multi touch hub and virtual reality headset. School aged children, teenagers, parents and seniors in particular have found new ways to engage with the library. Students use the hub for literacy, numeracy and mapping activities; young mothers bring their children to play in the library while they complete puzzles on the hub; and parents and seniors alike are exploring overseas adventures.

Cunnamulla Library is the only place in the community with access to robotics and other new technologies. This has resulted in all of the schools in the shire visiting the library, with teachers invited to add content to the hub for timetabled classes. An extra staff member has been also been employed to help with the increased number of children attracted to the library after school and during the school holidays.

Tech Trek, Ipswich City Council

Designed to provide virtual reality (VR) experiences, Ipswich Libraries’ Tech Trek project brought people together through technology, provided opportunities for learning, allowed users to travel to far off destinations, and highlighted the possibilities of the library in the 21st century. The standalone capability of the technology meant staff were able to deliver the project outside of the library, including in community centres, aged care facilities, schools and workplaces.

The benefits of the project were evident in a session titled Inside Dementia: A Virtual Perspective. Following an information presentation by Alzheimer’s Queensland, the Tech Trek technology was used with the Alzheimer’s Research UK app, A Walk Through Dementia, to simulate three journeys in the shoes of a dementia sufferer. Family members and carers of people with dementia were able to gain an empathetic understanding of this significant social issue. One participant who had lost her mother through dementia spoke about how beneficial it would have been for her family to have had access to such technology to help it understand what their mother was going through.

Learning and Incubation Hub, Cook Shire Council

The Bloomfield Library Learning and Incubation Hub is a vital place and service for the community of Bloomfield to browse the internet, conduct business, study and keep in contact with family and friends. With library hours limited to two part days a week, the addition of new, faster computers and separate workstations has given library users the capacity and space to complete all of their computer and online personal, business and learning needs.

The Hub has resulted in an increase in computer usage across library opening hours, and been an asset to the delivery of the Tech Savvy Seniors Queensland program for local seniors. Library staff hope to encourage further usage by those who may be intimidated by the new technology, including the biggest library users in the area – seniors. This includes the delivery of computer and robotics classes for all ages.

Library Spaces

A trusted hub that builds social capital and supports community resilience.

Lowood Lab, Somerset Regional Council

Lowood Lab has reinforced Lowood Library’s role as a hub of community information, activity and connection. It has enabled underrepresented populations to become involved with technology and other fields they may not have previously considered, and helped tackle social isolation by providing a means for people to connect with others.

Through the Lab, the community has access to tools and technology that are often considered out of reach for Lowood residents. Library users can participate in workshops and activities, including badge and jewellery making, beading, animation, 3D printing and other technology training, aimed at all skill levels, all ages – from toddlers to seniors, and both new and existing users.

An increase in community engagement has been evident since the project’s inception. The library has forged strong links with the local school in its promotion of STEM education, and primary and secondary school students and other community members with an interest in new technologies have been observed learning and making together.

Investing in learning and literacy

Libraries as trusted places for lifelong learning and intergenerational connection.

Adult literacy, Brisbane City Council

Zillmere library is a small library within the Brisbane City Council library network. The library is focused on building literacy and fostering lifelong learning for future success through welcoming, flexible and responsive library services and programs. Led by a passionate team, this approach engages individuals and families across different generations and diverse communities, delivering on the Brisbane Libraries’ vision: "The Library will be Brisbane’s favourite lifelong way to connect, read, learn, work, relax ... and explore new ideas." Adult literacy, early literacy and pop-up technology sessions and tinker tables are just some of the services and programs offered by the library. Read on for more on adult literacy, or visit the Public Libraries Connect Blog to read more on early and digital literacies.

Adult literacy is supported through a weekly English Conversation Group program. The program builds language skills, confidence and community networks, and is facilitated by library staff who have undertaken English as a Second Language (ESL) group facilitation and cultural awareness training. Library staff found the need for a more informal approach to group conversation, and have successfully adapted the session to best meet participants’ needs. This includes use of the museum artefacts as starters for curious, exploratory conversations that create powerful meaning and connection, resulting in a much more interactive and engaging experience.

On the spot digital literacy and functional literacy assistance is also in high demand at Zillmere Library. Library staff sit side-by-side with customers, troubleshooting, training, exploring and learning, providing vital access and delivering meaningful learning outcomes for customers who experience multiple barriers to information participation. These personalised and flexible approaches to building adult literacy have built connection and trust, with successful interactions often leading to further engagement with the library such as bringing children or grandchildren to library early literacy programs.

Summer Reading Club, Cherbourg Indigenous Knowledge Centre

Although new to the Summer Reading Club (SRC), Cherbourg Indigenous Knowledge Centre (IKC) Coordinator, Sophia Jacobs, and Cherbourg IKC Manager, Martina Jacobs, are in no way strangers to engaging children with fun literacy and learning activities. With extensive backgrounds and a combined experience of over 74 years in early childhood education, both Sophia and Martina knew just how to activate the Cherbourg IKC with summer reading fun to help the children in their community keep reading all summer long.

Using the resources provided to their IKC by State Library, coupled with their own creative ingenuity, Sophia and Martina created games for the children in their community to play, encouraged story-telling and story writing and provided SRC activity workbooks to the children visiting their centre.

Both Sophia and Martina shared their enthusiasm and excitement in being able to provide a well-resourced, flexible and easy to deliver holiday literacy program in their community, and reported over 15 SRC participants registered in their 2017 Game On holiday activities.


Being bold about sharing our stories and achievements.

CapriCon Steampunk and Pop Culture Convention, Rockhampton Regional Council

By inviting participation in the event, Rockhampton Regional Library’s 2018 Capricon Steampunk and Pop Culture Convention (CapriCon) shone a light on the library as the community heart of the city. The involvement of a range of community groups and other stakeholders resulted in a diverse event audience, well attended workshops, renewed interest from volunteers and widespread publicity, including in the editorial and weekend activity planner sections of the local newspaper.

Key to the success of Capricon was the library’s work in harnessing its existing networks, including business, early childhood, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities, to become involved by delivering workshops or promoting the event. Using Jay Laga’aia to launch the KidsCon Concert proved an immense drawcard and allowed a very effective crossover from the worlds of child-based play, language and literacy for families, to the deeper adult themes attractive to a pop-culture audience of all ages.

The general activity in and around the library precinct throughout CapriCon allowed audiences to browse shelves, tables and displays and view the library, staff and volunteers through a new and different lens. For many participants, this was their first contact with the library and they witnessed a vibrant, colourful and noisy atmosphere which may have been a radical departure from their expectations or previous past experiences of library use.

Locally connected

Libraries as a vibrant contributor to the community, delivering services in response to local needs.

Outreach services, Balonne Shire Council

The lives of residents in aged and child care in St George have been enriched with more reading and learning about technology following the introduction of Balonne Shire Council’s outreach services. So much so, that they have been asking for more frequent services. A program for each care service was developed by a designated library officer who worked with managers to determine need, and how the library could assist.

It was identified that while many of the residents of the aged care service were avid readers, they were no longer able to travel to the library to borrow from the collection or read printed material. Following an initial visit for one hour every three weeks, residents soon requested longer visit times and mini exchanges between visits.

The program delivered at the child care service focused on linking digital technology and story time after it was revealed the children were unable to access the regular story time held at the St George Library every month and child care staff were unable to access robotics resources for the centre. The primary robot used during these sessions is a Blue-Bot, with the children being provided with an opportunity to retell stories using the robots.

Partnership Possibilities

Leveraging our investment, and creating partnership opportunities across the state and beyond.

After the Storm, Mackay City Council

Collaboration across Mackay Regional Council departments and the wider regional museum network ensured Mackay Regional Council Libraries’ After the Storm project reached a wide audience. An initiative to digitise and showcase items from the libraries’ Heritage Collection in an exhibition about Mackay’s devastating 1918 cyclone, the project highlighted the value the community places on regional history and heritage, and the importance of showcasing regional heritage across a variety of mediums, formats, venues and spaces.

A strength of the project was the collaborative relationships which resulted in the delivery of quality services and resources that attracted high numbers new and existing audiences, along with  online and onsite visits. The library’s Heritage Collection staff worked with Council communications officers to produce a webpage showcasing all of the collated content; Council marketing staff assisted in the promotion of the commemorative event across social and traditional media platforms. Council community development staff were involved in hosting the installation as well as partnering to provide educational resources to community members regarding cyclone safety; and, museum volunteers displayed a parallel exhibition at the same venue.

Last updated
23rd January 2019