Public Libraries Evaluation Network Report 2021-2022

Public Libraries Evaluation Network Report 2021-2022

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 third year with 25 participating libraries across 5 states in Australia.


Libraries participating in the network use the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform to gather extensive feedback on their facilities, services and experiences. Over 22,000 survey responses have been captured since the project started in 2019, with standardised survey templates collecting consistent evidence about the value of the sector as a whole. Network members can deeply interrogate their data through the project’s dynamic, filterable big data dashboard, across a range of insight areas including:

  • Library Outcomes
  • ALIA/APLA Outcomes Alignment
  • ILFA Outcomes
  • Library Awareness
  • Library Use
  • Outcomes by Demographics
  • Open Text Analysis (new section!)

The use of agreed outcome indicators provides strong evidence of the impact of libraries, beyond visitor numbers and lending statistics. Libraries in the network measure 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 Annual Report, an Online Insights Report that provides a snapshot of the aggregate impact results from survey responses collected by network members throughout 2021-2022. The report includes year on year analysis, showing how results have changed over the three years of the project.

Key achievements include:

  • Role:  94% of respondents agree that the library is an important part of the place where they live (2% up from 20-21)
  • Safe and Trusted:  93% of respondents agree that the library makes them feel safe and welcome (1% up from 20-21)
  • Learning:  73% of respondents agree that the library has helped them to enjoy learning (2% down from 20-21, 2% up from 19-20)
  • Connection:  61% of respondents agree that the library has encouraged them to become more engaged in the community (same as 20-21, 11% up from 19-20)

As the project continues into 2022/23, Culture Counts will continue to document and share 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.