The health and wellbeing benefits of public libraries

An Australian research report reveals the value that public libraries contribute to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Public libraries provide an essential service, and are a key part of the infrastructure that supports a reading nation. 

Libraries support literacy, lifelong learning, access to information, community connection and – as a new report from State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria highlights – they also offer significant health and wellbeing benefits to individuals and communities.

Engaging with public libraries, the report found, improves an individual’s Subjective Health and Wellbeing by 8%.

When looking at library use, the report also found that:

  • Almost half (48%) of Victorian adults engaged with public libraries in the past 12 months either by visiting libraries or using their online resources. 
  • On top of this, 40% of Victorian households with children had a child who engaged with public libraries in the past 12 months.


The report further found that Victorian adults believe that public libraries help with health and wellbeing in the following ways: 

  • Are important for their literacy, creativity and knowledge (63%) 
  • Are a place where they feel safe or belong (56%) 
  • Help them feel connected to their community (49%) 
  • Help with their mental wellbeing (44%), and 
  • Helps them access government and business goods and services (43%).


Other than borrowing books, the report revealed the most common reasons for visiting public libraries are: 

  • To be in a safe and comfortable place (56%)
  • To do research, study or learn (52%)
  • To access WI-FI/Internet and computers (44%)


A cost-benefit analysis across all Victorian public libraries showed the annual benefits generated are twice the annual provisioning costs. The annual benefits of public library services are cited in the report as $475.3 million whereas the costs are $240.6 million per annum; meaning that a net annual benefit of $234.7 million in benefits are generated each year.

Overall, the report highlights and quantifies the value that Victorian public libraries contribute to community health and wellbeing.

You can find out more via the Public Libraries Victoria website or the Libraries Change Lives initiative.