Live literature In Australia

Live literature is a vital and engaging way of connecting communities with authors, illustrators, and the joys of reading.

It’s about that inspiring experience of meeting an author through talks, interviews, workshops, readings and performances in bookshops, libraries, schools, and online.

The Live Literature in Australia Report

The Live Literature in Australia report is a joint research project between Australia Reads and the University of Melbourne investigating the ways Australian authors and illustrators connect with communities through live literature events. 

Despite the proliferation of live literature events in Australia, there has been no empirical research to date that focuses on how these events are organised, what information organisers use to choose and connect with authors, what factors shape programming decisions, and what barriers exist in this process. 

This research fills this gap by surveying and interviewing a range of event organisers, to better understand the processes, considerations and barriers to hosting live literature events in Australia in settings other than our major literary festivals. 

Read our key insights and takeaways, or download the full report below.

Download the report

Read the full report from Australia Reads and the University of Melbourne.

Key findings

  1. Booksellers and librarians see author and illustrator events as a major factor in supporting Australia’s reading culture.
  2. Events typically reflect local economies.
  3. Event programming is built on relationships.
  4. Cost, labour, and physical space are the most significant barriers to organising and running events.
  5. Author and illustrator events are often dependent on individuals within organisations who are invested in organising them.
  6. Decisions around who to program are influenced by personal, organisational and industry factors.
  7. Everyone wants more resources to help with the planning and promotion of author and illustrator events.
  8. Having a diverse and inclusive program of authors/illustrators remains a challenge for many booksellers and librarians.
98% of the public librarians who responded to the survey cited ‘fostering a reading culture in their local area’ as a benefit for hosting author and illustrator events in their libraries.
96% of survey respondents said that they host events with authors and illustrators they have worked with in the past.
About half (55%) of respondents cited financial considerations as a difficulty to organising author and illustrator events.
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Live Literature in Australia is a mixed-methods research project. Researchers from the University of Melbourne conducted a quantitative and qualitative survey of people involved in organising events in bookstores, public libraries and school libraries across Australia. 

In total, 131 event hosts responded to the surveys including 28 people working in bookstores, 57 working in public libraries, and 46 working in school libraries across Australia.

The researchers also conducted in-depth interviews with nine survey participants, including four bookstore owners/workers, three public librarians, and two school librarians.  

Discover resources for event planners

Interested in running a live literature event in your community but unsure where to start? Explore our Event Planning Guide and Event Planning Checklist.

About the Researchers

Dr Alexandra Dane

Alexandra Dane is a Lecturer in Media and Communications and Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on contemporary book culture and publishing practice.

Dr Claire Parnell

Claire Parnell is a Lecturer in Digital Publishing at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on digital platforms and cultural inclusion in the publishing industry.

To cite this report: Parnell, C and Dane, A. 2024. Live Literature in Australia: Understanding the landscape of author/illustrator events in schools, libraries and bookstores. Melbourne: Australia Reads.

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