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8561.0 - Public Libraries, Australia, 2003-04  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/04/2005   
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INTRODUCTION

1 This publication presents results from a survey of public library/archive organisations for the reference year 2003-04. This is the third time the ABS has conducted this survey. Statistics were previously released for 1999-2000 and 1996-97 reference periods.



SCOPE

2 The survey scope for the Public Libraries Survey included local government libraries, national, state and territory libraries and archival service organisations which were open to the public, and were mainly engaged in acquiring, collecting, organising, conserving and loaning library materials such as books, manuscripts, etc. Joint use libraries (i.e. a combination of local government and school libraries) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge centres were also included.


3 The survey excluded libraries with restricted access such as those operated by educational institutions (universities and schools), and libraries operated privately by businesses and organisations for internal reference purposes.



STATISTICAL UNIT

4 The statistical unit used to represent public libraries, and for which statistics were reported, was the public library/archival organisation.



COVERAGE

5 The population used for the Public Libraries Survey was a listing of public national, state and territory libraries and local government libraries supplied by the Council of Australian State Libraries. The listing contained contact information about each public library location within Australia.



COMPARISON WITH OTHER ABS STATISTICS

6 Annual industry data for public libraries is also published in Australian Industry (cat. no. 8155.0). However, the population and scope is significantly different from that used in the Public Libraries Survey, therefore comparisons should not be made with Public Libraries.


7 Information presented in the Australian Industry publication relates to businesses recorded on the Australian Business Register. Data in this publication relates to private sector businesses or organisations mainly engaged in operating libraries/archives with restricted access to the public. These businesses are classified to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification class 9210 - Library Services. In contrast, information presented in Public Libraries relates to government organisations operating libraries/archives which are open to the public. These organisations in the main are not classified to ANZSIC Class 9210 - Library services (see paragraph 5 of the Explanatory Notes for more information).



HISTORICAL COMPARISONS

8 While comparisons are made between 2003-04 survey results and the 1999-2000 Public Libraries Survey, users should note that some changes were made which may have had a slight impact on the estimates.


9 The methodology for the 2003-04 Public Libraries Survey was based on a partial census of public library organisations, whereas in 1999-2000 it was a full census (refer to paragraph 12 of the Explanatory Notes for more information).


10 There are also two conceptual issues users should be aware of when making comparisons to previous survey results. These are:

  • Counts of membership/registered borrowers may fluctuate over time due to register purging of non-active members. This can impact on point-in-time estimates.
  • Archival holdings are subject to disposal of records that are no longer required for public use or are records of temporary value. This can also impact on point-in-time estimates.


RELIABILITY OF THE DATA

11 When interpreting the results of a survey it is important to take into account factors that may affect the reliability of estimates. Such factors can be classified as either sampling or non-sampling error.


12 The estimates for state libraries and state archives in this publication were based on a census of all organisations while estimates for local government libraries were based on information obtained from a partial census. Specifically, a census was used for local government public library organisations in Victoria, Tasmania, Northern territory and the Australian Capital territory. For the remaining states, a sample of organisations was used. Consequently, the estimates for local government libraries in this publication were subject to sampling variability, that is, they may have differed from the figures that would have been obtained if all units had been included in the survey. One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE), which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample of units was included.


13 There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if all public libraries in Australia had been surveyed, and approximately 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two SEs.


14 Sampling variability can also be measured by the relative standard error (RSE), which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. The RSE is a useful measure in that it provides an immediate indication of the percentage errors likely to have occurred due to the effects of random sampling, and this avoids the need to refer also to the size of the estimate. The following table contains estimates of RSEs for a selection of the statistics presented in this publication.

RELATIVE STANDARD ERRORS FOR TABLE 1.1 SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS

Local government libraries
National and state libraries
National and state archives
Total
%
%
%
%

Organisations at end June
-
-
-
-
Locations at end June
2.9
-
-
2.9
Employees at end June
1.3
-
-
1.0
Volunteers during June
5.1
-
-
4.7
Volunteer hours during June
9.0
-
-
8.3
Income
Government funding
1.6
-
-
0.9
Services to clients
2.9
-
-
1.3
Other
4.7
-
-
0.8
Total
1.6
-
-
0.9
Expenses
Labour costs
1.4
-
-
1.0
Other
2.2
-
-
1.0
Total
1.6
-
-
0.9
Visits to library locations
1.6
-
. .
1.5
Library holdings at end June
Lending stock
1.2
. .
. .
1.2
Non-lending stock
3.5
-
. .
3.5
Total
1.2
-
. .
0.9

. . not applicable
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)


15 As an example of the above, the estimate of total income for local government public libraries in 2003-04 was $545.2m and the RSE was estimated to be 1.6%, giving a SE of approximately $8.7m. Therefore, there would be two chances in three that, if all units had been included in the survey, a figure in the range of $536.5m to $553.9m would have been obtained, and 19 chances in 20 (i.e. a confidence interval of 95%) that the figure would have been within the range of $527.8m to $562.6m.


16 The sampling variability for local government library estimates at the state/territory level was generally higher than the Australian level aggregates. In particular, estimates for New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia should be viewed with more caution than those for other states. RSEs for New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland were typically 1 to 2 times greater than the corresponding national figure for employees and financial estimates. RSEs for the Northern Territory were typically up to 3 times greater; RSEs for Western Australia were typically up to 5 times greater; and South Australia up to 6 times greater than the corresponding national figure for employees and financial estimates.


17 Estimates that have an estimated relative standard error between 10% and 25% are annotated with the symbol '^' . These estimates should be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for some purposes. Estimates with an RSE between 25% and 50% are annotated with the symbol '*', indicating that the estimate should be used with caution as it is subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes. Estimates with an RSE greater than 50% are annotated with the symbol '**' indicating that the sampling variability causes the estimates to be considered too unreliable for general use.


18 Errors other than those due to sampling may occur in any type of collection and are referred to as non-sampling error. For this survey, non-sampling error may result from such things as deficiencies in the lists of local government public libraries from which the sample was drawn, non-response, imperfections in reporting and/or errors made in compiling results. The extent to which non-sampling error affects the results of the survey is not precisely quantifiable. Every effort was made to minimise non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the questionnaire, efficient operating procedures and systems and the use of appropriate methodology. Survey estimates subject to a high level of non-sampling error have been suppressed or provided with relevant cautions.



ROUNDING

19 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between the sum of the components and the total. Similar discrepancies may occur between a proportion or ratio, and the ratio of the separate components.



REFERENCE PERIOD

20 Data contained in the tables in this publication related to public library services in Australia during the year ended June 2004. Financial estimates included the activity of any public library that ceased or commenced operations during the year. Counts of locations included only those that were operating at 30 June 2004. Employment included only those persons working for a public library during the last pay period ending in June 2004.



ACKNOWLEDGMENT

21 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.



DATA AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

22 Inquiries about these statistics and more detailed statistics than those presented in this publication should be made by telephoning the contact shown on the front page.


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