Public Libraries Evaluation Network Report 2020-2021

Public Libraries Evaluation Network Report 2020-2021

The Public Libraries Evaluation Network (PLEN) is a nation-wide data collection initiative designed to help libraries better understand and illustrate their value. Delivered by Culture Counts in conjunction with Public Libraries Australia (PLA), the project has completed its second year with 30 participating libraries across 5 states in Australia.


Libraries participating in the network used the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform to consistently gather feedback on their facilities, services and experiences. Libraries were provided with standardised survey templates to collect feedback, and all results contributed to a large body of evidence about the value of the sector as a whole. A dynamic, filterable big data dashboard was developed to enable network members to deeply interrogate their data, offering insights including:

  • Demographics and use
  • Library awareness
  • Library engagement
  • Library outcomes

The use of agreed, standard outcome indicators provides evidence of the impact of libraries, beyond visitor numbers and lending statistics. Libraries in the network measured the value that they add to the communities’ wellbeing, across areas including literacy and lifelong learning, digital inclusion, community engagement, economic and workforce development, and personal development and wellbeing.


Culture Counts has created this Online Insights Report to provide a snapshot of the aggregate impact results across the project during 2020-2021. Highlights include:

  • 92% of respondents agree that the library is an important part of the place where they live
  • 92% of respondents agree that the library makes them feel safe and welcome
  • 74% of respondents agree that the library is changing in ways to increase its relevance for them
  • 69% of respondents agree that the library has helped them to learn and gain new skills
  • Libraries participating in PLEN improved their ability to digitally connect others by 7%, compared to the previous year
  • Libraries were 11% better at helping people with the success of their businesses
  • Libraries were 9% more successful at encouraging engagement in the community

As the project continues into 2022, Culture Counts will focus on documenting and sharing valuable case studies with the network, helping members to implement change to generate greater impact for their communities. We encourage libraries from all parts of Australia to join the network and help to grow the database, insights and learning opportunities.

Join the network

The Public Libraries Evaluation Network can help you better facilitate the planning and delivery of your programs and services. PLEN combines the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform, our outcomes-based framework and a reporting dashboard. Contact our friendly Client Team to find out how you can get involved.

About the author
Georgia Moore is a Managing Director (Australia) at Culture Counts.