Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 0




Review of the Hornsby Shire Library


Home Library Service


January 2009










Hornsby Shire Library & Information Service

                                    Linking Lives to Learning and Leisure

Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 1




Terms of Reference. 3

Executive Summary. 3

Background. 4

History of Service. 4

Current Service. 4

Research Methods. 4

Customer Profile. 5

Age and Gender. 5

Customer Location. 5

Ethnic Backgrounds. 5

Demographic and Social Trends. 5

Collection Description and Usage. 8

Staffing Levels. 8

Staff Working Environment 8

Staff Duties. 8

Administration. 8

Assessing and Satisfying Customer Needs. 8

Delivering Items. 8

Customer Liaison and Support 8

Marketing and Promotion. 8

Staff Workload. 8

Staff Training and Professional Development 8

Occupational Health and Safety. 8

Provision of Information. 8

Customer Service. 8

Professional Development 8

Future Directions. 8

Advances in Technology. 8

Social Role of the Library. 8

Conclusion. 8

Recommendations. 8

Attachment 1 – Current Customer Survey. 8

Attachment 2 – Survey Distributed to Retirement Villages. 8

Attachment 3 – Survey Distributed to the Public. 8

Attachment 4 – Home Library Staff Survey. 8

Endnotes. 8


Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 2


Terms of Reference

This investigation of the Home Library Service is part of an ongoing review of the various services provided by the Hornsby Shire Library & Information Service.  The terms of reference are:


·    To undertake a critical analysis of the role of the Home Library Service in the Hornsby Shire Library network

·    To ascertain community knowledge of and satisfaction with the Home Library Service being provided

·    To review present and potential services with particular reference to emerging developments in the provision of a Home Library Service

·    To make recommendations, based on the information obtained during the review, which support effective and responsive Home Library Services within the Hornsby Shire Library & Information Service


Executive Summary

This report reviews the service currently provided by Hornsby Shire Library’s Home Library Service, based at Hornsby Central Library.  It examines the extent to which the identified needs of customers are being met, and recommends ways of ensuring that the service is maintained, developed and continuously improved.  Aspects of the Home Library Service examined in the review include current policies and procedures, the working environment, and knowledge of, usage of, and satisfaction with the service provided.  Issues relevant to the service in the future are also discussed.


Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to identify customer needs and to measure the effectiveness of services offered.  These include an analysis of census information, and membership and usage statistics.  Surveys were conducted amongst Home Library users, the general public and Home Library staff to elicit feedback on awareness about the service, as well as the quality of the collections and services provided, and to gather suggestions as to how the service could be improved.

Advances in technology will provide the service with new opportunities for the future. Rapid changes are taking place in information technology which will have considerable impact on the provision of services and information provision – both remote and in house – to library customers.  There will be a greater reliance on technology, which the Library will be expected to make available.  Consequently, staff and customer training in online resources and special collections will be of increasing importance.

In considering the future, the need to be responsive to social and demographic trends is paramount.  Libraries in general, and the Home Library Service in particular, have an important role to play in supporting social sustainability, by helping to reduce the growing trend towards social isolation amongst older  and disadvantaged people, who comprise a substantial portion of the Home Library customer base. 

The report concludes that although the service currently provided substantially meets customer needs and expectations, there are specific areas where improvements could be made.  Increased promotion of the service and further staff training are needed, along

Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 3


with a review of the staff working area.   This will provide future benefits to both Home Library customers and Home Library staff.



History of Service

The Hornsby Library Home Library Service is based at Hornsby Central Library.  The service began in November 1983 with the appointment of the first part-time Home Library staff member.  By March 1984, the service catered for 160 customers and 10 institutions.  Since then, the number of individual customers and institutions has grown and staff numbers have increased to three part time employees.  Initially only books were delivered to Home Library customers.  Now a variety of formats are available and the latest electronic formats are being trialled.


Current Service

In accordance with Library policy,[1]  and in keeping with the guidelines set out by the Australian Library and Information Association,[2]  the Home Library Service caters for all residents of Hornsby Shire, who, for some reason – for example because of illness or frailty – are unable to come to the Library to choose their own material, or who are unable to carry material home.  This includes carers of eligible customers.  The service is available to people of all ages, and may be provided on a temporary or long term basis.  Bulk deliveries are made to retirement hostels and nursing homes in the Shire.   


Currently, the Home Library Service caters for 223 individual customers and 14 institutions.  Home Library staff work a total of 50.5 hours per week.  Deliveries are made on a three-weekly cycle with more than 1100 items being delivered in each cycle.  In 2008, 22,511 items were issued to Home Library customers.  The service delivers books in both standard and large print, audio books on cassette and CD, music CDs, DVDs, CD-ROMs and magazines.  Home Library staff also provide information as required on a range of topics, such as community based services, legal information and local history.


Research Methods

Research for the review was undertaken by way of personal visits and discussion, investigation of a large number of Australian and overseas library websites and by an extensive literature review.  Reference was also made to material produced by the NSW Home Library Service Working Group.



Different surveys were distributed to current users, the general public and Home Library staff.  These were designed to gauge the level of customer satisfaction, to raise awareness of the service in the community, and to elicit feedback from the staff and the public.  The response was encouraging, with 120 customers, representatives of 8 retirement villages, and 125 members of the public completing the survey.  The results were analysed and will be used to inform decisions on the future direction of the Home Library Service

Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 4


Customer Profile

Age and Gender

The Home Library Service currently provides library material and information to 223 customers, 83.4% of whom are female and 16.6% of whom are male.  The age breakdown is shown in the following table.




% April 2008











< 70



Although many Home Library customers are over 55 years of age, it is important not to make assumptions about the level or type of library service they require.  As the Canadian Library Association points out:


Older adults are not a homogenous population that can be easily categorized.  Like any identifiable group within our society, such as people with disabilities or members of ethnic communities, the information needs and interests of older people range widely and mirror the adult community as a whole.  Also, within the broad category of ‘older adults’ lie several generations with different life experiences and different sets of expectations.  The first principle, then, of serving an older population is to recognize this great diversity and to be ever conscious of

the dangers of stereotyping in planning collections, programs and services.[3]


Customer Location

Customers live in all parts of the Shire, as far afield as Brooklyn,  Arcadia, Round Corner and Wahroonga.  The majority of customers are centred in Epping, Thornleigh, Normanhurst, Hornsby and Hornsby Heights, while customer numbers are fewer in outlying areas such as Berowra, Brooklyn, Galston, Castle Hill, and Cherrybrook.


Ethnic Backgrounds

The majority of material borrowed is in English.  However, there have been requests for material in Hindi, Polish, Spanish, Italian and French.  These are supplied through the Community Language scheme provided by the State Library of New South Wales.  This service is especially valuable to the elderly members of the community who want to receive material in their native language.


Demographic and Social Trends

Australia’s population is ageing.  In Active Engaged Valued : Older People and NSW Public Libraries, Mylee Joseph highlights the findings of  a 2005 Productivity Commission research report.  The authors of the report conclude:


Australia faces a pronounced ageing of its population over the next forty years.  One-quarter of Australians will be aged 65 years or more by 2044/45, roughly double the present proportion.  The proportion of the ‘oldest old’ will increase even more.[4]

Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 5


In 2008, The Senior [5] estimated the size of the various generations in Australia today:







% of






Baby Boomers




Generation X




Generation Y




Generation Z


Under 8



This illustrates that the generations yet to have a need for Home Library visits represent a far greater percentage of the population than those currently receiving the service.  While Home Library customers are not necessarily older adults, it is true that in the history of Home Library services in Hornsby, older customers have predominated.  Currently over 82% of Home Library customers are over eighty years of age.  This suggests that not only will Hornsby Home Library staff be visiting more customers in the future, but that they will also need to spend more time doing so.


As with the general population the percentage of those aged over 55 years in the Hornsby Shire is rising, with 1890 aged care residents in Hornsby Shire in June 2006. [6]  Statistics for Hornsby from the last three Australian Bureau of Statistics Census reports [7] are shown in the table below:






Total Population




No. of Persons 55+




% of Population Aged 55+





The NSW Local Government Population Ageing Project [8]  includes the following table which indicates that the elderly population of Hornsby will increase substantially. 




Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 6


Other forecasts indicate that the percentage of Hornsby Shire residents aged 70 years or older, which was 9.3% in 2006, will rise to 9.9% in 2011 and to 11.8% in 2021.[9]


The number of older Australians living alone is also rising, with the percentage increasing as people age.  In 2006, approximately 29% of older people in Australia were living alone in private dwellings.  The figure rose to 39% for those aged 85 and over.  These percentages are expected to increase over the next twenty years. [10]  Statistics for Hornsby Shire, gathered over the last ten years, show that older people continue to make up the bulk of those living alone.  In 1996, 2001 and 2006, over 62% of Hornsby residents living alone were aged over 55 years.[11]


According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as the number of older Australians living alone increases, so too do feelings of loneliness and social isolation, resulting in an increased need for outside assistance in the case of illness.[12]


The Home Library Service fulfils a central role in mitigating the effects of isolation felt by people who because of illness or incapacity cannot leave their homes to enjoy social contact with others.  As Carolyn Jones points out:


… it should be acknowledged that the home library service is more than the efficient delivery of appropriate materials.  Its role and value may lie in how adequately it generates social capital and feelings of social inclusiveness.  In times of increasing social isolation and increasing numbers of the elderly, [Home Library] services… contribute to both social capital and human happiness.[13]


The increase in the number of older people is also expected to result in  an increase in the incidence of disability.  The report Life Expectancy and Disability in Australia 1988 to 2003 explores the ‘health expectancy’ of Australians during the years of increased life expectancy.  The report concludes that as life expectancy increases so does the amount of time that people are living with a disability. 


In 2003, males could expect, on average, to experience 18.6 years of life with a disability….  Females could expect, on average, to experience 20.7 years of life lived with disability… [14]


While disability does not necessarily equate to poor health or illness,[15] it has been defined very broadly by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which identifies 17 limitations as constituting a level of disability.  These include loss of sight, not corrected by glasses or contact lenses; chronic or recurring pain or discomfort that restricts everyday activities; incomplete use of arms or fingers; difficulty gripping or holding things; incomplete use of feet or legs; and restriction in physical activities or in doing physical work. [16]


As outlined in the Strategic Plan for Older People (55 years and over) 2005-2010 [17] and The Strategic Plan for People with a dis-ability [18], Hornsby Shire Council is committed to serving the needs of residents aged 55 and over and those with a disability.  Given the current trends in population, it could be assumed that there will be an increased necessity for Hornsby Shire Library to provide services to older residents and those with a disability, including an expanded Home Library Service.

Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 7


Collection Description and Usage

Home Library customers compete with other users for access to material from the general collection.  At any one time, over 2,200 items are either on loan to Home Library customers, or have been put aside for delivery.  Demand is particularly high for audio books on CD.  Rather than creating a separate collection for Home Library customers, the Library will use recently distributed additional government grant funding to expand the collection of audio books on CD over the next few months.


Material in other formats can usually be sourced from the Hornsby Library network.  Staff use library databases and genre lists to find additional titles by authors who have a similar writing style to writers individual customers have identified as favourites.  Requests for new titles are regularly followed up by Home Library staff.


This approach, combined with the implementation of the library’s Collection Development Policy meets the needs of the majority of customers, with 71.67% of those surveyed indicating they are very satisfied with the selection of material,  and 28.4% indicating they are reasonably satisfied.  All comments from survey respondents were positive.  Customers described staff as helpful, friendly, reliable and respectful, and commented on how much they appreciated the service.  However, there is always a need to maintain effective communication with library customers to ensure that the collection remains relevant to their needs and expectations.


In 2008, 22,511 loans were made to Home Library customers in the following formats:



% of Total Loans





Audio visual materials



Since 2007, there has been an increase in the use of audiovisual items, and a slight drop in the use of books and magazines.  Customers using audiovisual materials have largely embraced more recent formats, such as CDs and DVDs as opposed to older formats, such as videos and cassettes.  However, staff cannot assume that all customers are aware of the availability of newer formats.  As part of the survey, customers were asked if they would like to make changes to the formats of the material delivered to them.  Although only 13%, asked for changes, the question arises as to how many customers would have requested a change had they known what alternative formats are available.  A well defined procedure needs to be established to ensure that customers are aware of the wide range of titles and formats held in the library collection.


Current Home Library customers were asked to comment on the condition of the resources they received.  More than 50% commented on this aspect of the collection.  It is significant that audiovisual material, which makes up approximately 27% of Home Library loans, accounted for 80% of the unfavourable comments.  Cassettes and CDs were most often cited as having been found to be faulty.  This problem could in part be attributed to incompatibility between the material supplied and the equipment customers are using.  Alternative delivery methods such as audio streaming and the use of pre-recorded material could help alleviate this problem.

Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 8


Staffing Levels

Three permanent part-time Home Library staff work a total of 50.5 hours per week, with none of them working more than three days a week.  These hours are in line with the guidelines produced by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) which recommends that ‘Home Library staff should not be involved in visits for more than four days a week.’ [19] 


Staff Working Environment

Usually the choosing and issuing of materials for Home Library customers takes place at Hornsby Central Library.  However, on occasion, such as during staff leave or sickness, choosing is done at the branch libraries and the material is sent to Hornsby for packing and delivery.  The work area at Hornsby is located within the general library work area, so that the Home Library staff interact closely with other team members.


In the staff survey, most respondents reported that the space in the Home Library area is not adequate.  Staff were also of the opinion that the layout of the area could be improved.  More shelving space would also be greatly appreciated.  In view of the fact that the population is ageing, putting more pressure on the Home Library Service, these issues need to be addressed.


A considerable amount of time is also spent in the Home Library van.  Usually, a single staff member makes the deliveries.  This is increased to two staff members for long runs and to cover double deliveries and pick-ups at holiday times.  Given that Hornsby Shire covers one of the largest areas in the NSW, the van covers long distances on busy roads in peak morning time traffic.  When responding to the staff survey, some employees indicated that they would like more training in driving the van which at times needs to be manoeuvred and parked in very constrained areas.


Customers’ homes are an important part of the work environment for Home Library staff.  Occasionally items are dropped off and picked up at the door, but at other times customers invite staff in for a talk or to share some refreshment.  Sometimes staff need to go inside to pick up and deliver material if the customer is unable to carry the items to the door.  Visits to retirement villages might involve the deposit of a bulk collection and/or deliveries to home owners within the complex.  Several retirement villages cover a large area, so staff have to be prepared to walk long distances when required. 


Staff Duties


The Home Library team is managed by the Community Liaison Coordinator, while the day to day workflow is coordinated by the Team Leader.  The Team Leader is responsible for tasks such as  the rostering and training of staff, the scheduling of Home Library visits, the maintenance of customer records and profiles, the collection and analysis of statistics, and the administration of customer accounts.


Assessing and Satisfying Customer Needs

Once eligible customers have signed the membership form and an agreement allowing staff to enter their property, a customer profile is prepared.  The customer profile identifies the type and number of resources to be delivered, and includes customer

Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 9


contact details and an emergency contact.  The profile includes the customer’s reading preferences and favourite authors, their likes and dislikes, as well as details of the subjects which interest them most.  Other records kept for each customer include driving directions to reach their home, and details of available parking facilities.  These records are constantly updated to ensure that each customer receives fast and effective service at all times.


Choosing resources to match customers’ requirements is a complex and time consuming activity.  Since Home Library customers cannot visit the library to select material, and deliveries are made only once every three weeks, making the right choice the first time is very important.  The task requires well trained, patient, committed staff who are highly professional and have an ability to empathise with the customers they serve.  They must have a thorough knowledge of the various genres and authors as well as the ability to use print and online resources to help them find the best match for each client. 


This is because customer requests can vary from wide ranging to very specific.  Some customers are prolific readers, and enjoy being exposed to a variety of subjects and literary genres.  Others limit their reading, requesting for example, only romances by English authors, or only novels with happy endings and no upsetting dramatic events.  Staff also need to consider the weight and size of items for those customers who have difficulty lifting, holding or carrying heavy material.


Home Library staff also provide a research service to locate information for their clients.  The service has the potential to reduce social isolation by putting customers in contact with people and services they need to lead more independent and satisfying lives.  Two of the three Home Library staff spend time serving on the library’s circulation and/or information desk.  This gives them added experience, and enables them to develop the skills and knowledge they need to provide a quality information service to all customers.


Home Library staff have provided information on a wide range of topics, such as how to donate a body for research, how to access home help services, and how to arrange transport between home and hospital.  Staff can find much of this type of information on the Internet and in the library’s online subscription databases, including the online Community Directory.  As the population ages and the Home Library’s customer base grows, such requests are expected to increase.


Delivering Items

The following table shows the approximate number of items delivered over a three week period.


Item Description



Large Print



Standard print



Spoken word cassettes/CDs






CDs (music)






Community Language material






Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 10


Delivering so many items on time and according to a strict schedule is a physically demanding task.  The job typically involves bending, lifting and reaching to select materials, bagging items for each customer, loading the bags onto trolleys and packing them into the Home Library van, before removing them to deliver to individual homes.  Finding parking can be a problem, adding to the difficulty of meeting set schedules.  The delivery procedure is reversed on the return trip, with items being packed into the van, then unpacked at the library, before being wanded into the library system.  If time allows, returned items are shelved after each delivery run.  This workload is shared by three members of staff.  While some staff surveyed reported that they were able to complete tasks in the allocated time, others indicated that that they were regularly unable to do so.


Customer Liaison and Support

Home Library work can be emotionally taxing, since considerable time is spent working with customers who are often socially isolated and in need of varying levels of assistance and support.  All the staff relate well to those they visit.  They are aware of the effects of the ageing process and the issues affecting people with disabilities, and take extra care to keep in regular contact in person and by phone, to ensure that individual customer needs are satisfied.


Feedback from the customer survey shows that most respondents feel comfortable contacting Home Library staff by phone.  However the responses of those who are not comfortable contacting the staff by phone emphasise the importance of seeing each customer as an individual rather than stereotyping – for example, by assuming that anyone who is uncomfortable phoning Home Library staff has a hearing difficulty.




Physically unable to use a phone


Unable to use a phone because of impaired vision


Unable to use the phone because of a hearing difficulty


No reason given


No need to phone


Not aware of the number to use



Occasionally, as they grow older, customers can become upset or confused, in which case staff need to spend time to reassure them and explain Library policies and procedures.  Home Library staff have indicated that they would like to spend more time with individual customers.  Although ALIA guidelines state that the average duration of visits to individual users should be fifteen minutes,[20] often it is not possible to spend this amount of time visiting clients without disrupting the busy schedule.


Home Library customers were asked whether they were satisfied with the length of the visit they receive.  Although most stated that they are happy with the current length of each visit, a significant number (33.3%) expressed a desire to have longer visits.


Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 11


Their responses are summarised in the table below:




Happy with current length of time


Would like 5-10 minutes more


Would like more than 10 minutes more


Would like as long as possible/all day/3 hrs. etc


Would like as much time as staff can spend



Those customers who expressed a preference for a longer visit were asked if they would be happy for a trained volunteer to deliver their material and visit with them.  Most customers indicated that they would be happy with visits from volunteers.  Amongst those who indicated  they would not be happy with such an arrangement, the main reason given was that they were very happy with the service provided by the particular staff member currently delivering to them.  Many of these customers mentioned the particular staff member by name, reinforcing the idea that the relationship of trust built up with individual members of staff is greatly valued by customers.  The results also reflect the desire of many customers for more social interaction with Home Library staff.  This suggests that if volunteers were to be used to make deliveries in the future, a phased introduction should be considered, perhaps beginning with new customers.


Marketing and Promotion

A range of activities are undertaken to market and promote the Home Library Service.  The Team Leader gives presentations to community groups to promote the Home Library Service, while the Community Liaison Coordinator works with community groups, Council committees and the Community Services Branch to plan and deliver outreach programs promoting the Home Library Service.  Activities include attendance at Council sponsored events, the presentation of information sessions during the year, and the preparation of articles for inclusion in local newspapers and newsletters such as The Hornsby Advocate and Mature Matters.


Despite these efforts, nearly 40% of people surveyed in the wider community did not know about the Home Library Service.  This indicates that promotion needs to be undertaken in a wider variety of areas.  Although seniors groups and seniors newsletters have received publicity about the service, the more mobile groups in the community need to be made more aware of the service so that they can inform those who neither attend seniors groups nor receive seniors newsletters.


Staff Workload

Although the feedback indicates that customer demands are being met, Home Library staff surveyed reported that they would like more time to complete administrative tasks, to gather more complete customer profiles, to choose the most appropriate items, and to visit and liaise with individual customers – especially those who are socially isolated.  There was some concern about how staff would manage the expected increase in the number of Home Library customers as the population ages.  All staff would be happy to see trained volunteers introduced to help with the non professional aspects of Home Library work.  It was agreed that the selection of material should continue to be carried out by professional library staff.  Staff suggestions will be further investigated.


Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 12


Staff Training and Professional Development

It is very encouraging to note the high level of satisfaction with the service expressed by the majority of survey participants.  However, ongoing training is essential to ensure that staff can continue to meet customer expectations, and to deal effectively with the complexities involved with providing a high quality Home Library service. 


Occupational Health and Safety

All Home Library staff are required to undergo manual handling training and to read and sign relevant documents, such as Safe Work Methods Statements and an internal report entitled Physical Demands Job Analysis Report for Access & Egress of the Home Library Van – Hornsby Shire Council .


When asked if they were able to comply with best practice in the area of OH&S, the majority of staff surveyed answered always.  However, some staff – predominantly those working on a casual basis – answered sometimes, indicating that further investigation and training is needed in this area.


Staff who drive the Home Library van come with a range of driving experience.  If necessary, an external driving instructor is employed to help build skills and confidence.  In other cases a new driver accompanies an experienced staff member to gain the confidence to drive alone.  Most staff feel that they received enough driver training before being asked to drive the Home Library van.  Further investigations will be undertaken  to ensure that those who need more training receive assistance in this area.   


According to the ALIA guidelines, ‘two people should visit home library service users, for reasons of occupational health and safety and security.’ [21]  Time and staffing constraints at Hornsby do not allow for two people to make each visit.  However, for added security, staff delivering material carry a mobile phone at all times.  Staff have suggested that double runs undertaken at holiday time should always be delivered and collected by two people.  This suggestion will be considered.


Provision of Information

As well as undertaking the tasks specific to Home Library duties, Home Library staff also need to be aware of the sources of information available within the library and externally.  Internal resources include material held in the general collection, in the local studies collection and in online databases.  External sources may include organisations which provide services for older adults, the providers of other Home Library Services, and publishers of resources for those who cannot use standard print material.  Greater familiarisation with the tools available to help with the selection of material was one of the training and professional development activities most frequently requested by current Home Library staff.  As the needs and expectations of Home Library customers grow and change, more training in the provision of information will be needed to enable Home Library staff to continue to enhance their customer service skills.


Customer Service

Training in the area of working with and understanding the elderly and people with a disability was also frequently requested by staff.  Various training sessions have been organised in these areas.  However, given the emotionally draining effect on staff of working with a number of customers with special needs, regular training is needed in this

Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 13


area.  Staff also need to remain aware of advances in technology, as they are sometimes called upon to assist customers with equipment such as DVDs and cassette machines.


Professional Development

Home Library staff attend the meetings of the NSW Home Library Service Group.  The Team Leader attends these meetings and where possible, other Home Library staff also participate.  All three permanent Home Library staff attended the all-day seminar Seniors in Focus @ Your Library at the State Library of NSW.  Feedback from staff confirms that they feel they have learned a great deal from taking part in specialist training of this nature, which is offered in addition to any relevant training given to all Hornsby Library staff.


Future Directions

Advances in Technology

With the rapid technological advances taking place today, and as the population ages, the usage of audiovisual and online material is likely to increase.  Many current Home Library customers already prefer to receive information on DVD or as an audio book  As computer literate Baby Boomers and members of Generation X  become Home Library customers, they will expect the Library to provide material in newer formats as they are introduced.    The library is one of the main avenues by which many socially isolated or economically disadvantaged people are able to access this material.  As technological advances are embraced by the wider community, there are likely to be changes in the makeup of the Library collection, with an increased emphasis on audio streaming and downloading material to complement the print collection.


As the Baby Boomers age, Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and social networking sites will increasingly be used by staff and Home Library Service customers, both as a promotional tool and as a way of socialising and sharing information and ideas.  Home Library customers will expect the library to provide easy access to such services.


Although future Home Library customers are likely to have more technological skills and greater expectations of technology, the gap between their skills and what they can achieve due to loss of sight and motor skills may increase, leading to a greater dependence on the Home Library staff and the services they offer.   Home Library staff will need additional skills and knowledge to assist customers to use emerging technologies, while still maintaining the highly personal service and support so much valued and needed by socially isolated people.


Marion Wilson, from the University of Newcastle, emphasises the need for well trained and empathetic staff to help customers make the best use of new technologies.


Many administrations have demanded staff cuts in order to introduce new technology, when experience shows that this is the point that our clients have an absolute need for the personal touch of expert staff assistance.  New ways of operating, and the technology that often accompanies can be a daunting prospect.  We need to ensure that our clients are comfortable in dealing with technology, and are able to gain the maximum benefits from any services we provide … We cannot introduce new services without the promotion and publicity to properly advise people of what is available, and how they can use it. [22]


Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 14


Hornsby Library staff are aware of the need to plan for the future to meet this challenge.  We are currently investigating three new technologies which are not dependent on the use of a CD or cassette, using grant funding from the State Library of NSW.  The products being trialled are Audio-Read, DAISY and Playaway.


Audio-Read is an Australian designed and produced system for recording and playing digital information.  The player is called a navigator and the navigator is capable of playing both Audio-Read material and standard MP3 and Windows Media material as well as podcasts.  It can also convert text files to audio.  A number of Home Library services in NSW public libraries are currently trialling this technology which has distinct advantages for some Home Library customers, but which is not suitable for others.


DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) has become the accepted standard amongst many organisations in the world which provide for the needs of people who are visually impaired and/or who cannot use standard print products.  This format is used by Vision Australia with whom Hornsby is partnering in the trial.


Playaway is a product of Findaway World in Ohio, USA.  It consists of a single pre-recorded book which is very small and compact and is accessed through earphones.  Titles can be lent to customers like a standard book.


It was decided to trial all three devices, to assess the level to which each product meets the needs and capabilities of a variety of users.  The features of one format and/or player may be more useful to some users than to others.  The results of the trial will inform future decisions on the type of material made available both to Home Library customers and other library members.


The need to investigate new technologies such as these is especially great since talking books on cassette are being phased out by producers.  The use of alternative technologies will also help to address the problem of damage to audiovisual material caused by use of conventional hardware by people with low vision or poor motor skills.


Social Role of the Library

With an ageing population, increased life expectancy, and a growing number of people living alone, the public library is taking on a greater social role within the community.  This is reflected in the objectives of the Hornsby Library Service, included in the Service Plan 2008-2009.  Under the Plan, the Library has undertaken to ‘create an environment and provide programs to support the role of the Library as a social and cultural facility.’[23]

The Home Library Service caters for a predominantly ageing population, some of whom are socially isolated and/or affected by the onset of disabilities.  Consequently, as time goes by, the Home Library Service can be expected to play an increasingly important role in achieving this ongoing aim. 


Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 15



Hornsby Shire Library’s Home Library Service currently meets customer needs and is much valued by the community.  However, improvements could be made in some areas.  The evidence suggests that greater emphasis needs to be given to staff training, while a  review of the staff working area would also assist in planning for the future.  To help alleviate staff workload, consideration should be given to employing volunteers to carry out some of the non professional duties currently undertaken by Home Library staff.  More promotion of the service is also needed to raise awareness in the wider community.



It is recommended that:


1.   training for Home Library staff  be maintained, and increased where required

2.   a review of the staff working area be undertaken

3.   consideration be given to employing volunteers to undertake non professional tasks within the Home Library Service Team

4.   promotion of the Home Library Service be increased


Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 16



Attachment 1 – Current Customer Survey



Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 17


Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 18



Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 19



Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 20


Attachment 2 – Survey Distributed to Retirement Villages



Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 21


Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 22


Attachment 3 – Survey Distributed to the Public




The Home Library Service, provided by Hornsby Shire Library and Information Service, is offered free of charge to Hornsby Shire residents who are incapacitated or ill and unable to visit the Library. 


We would like to determine the community's knowledge of, and satisfaction with, the Home Library Service.  Please take the time to complete this questionnaire and either return it to your local branch of the library or use the attached reply paid envelope.


Please return the questionnaire even if you answer ‘No’ to question number 1.


1    Are you aware that Hornsby Library & Information Service offers a Home Library service?


        Yes                                                              No        (Go to question 4)



2    Do you know anyone who uses the Home Library Service from Hornsby Library?


        Yes                                                              No        (Go to question 4)



3    How satisfied are they with the service they receive?


Very satisfied

Reasonably satisfied








Not happy

Very dissatisfied

Not sure


4    Do you know of anyone who lives in the Hornsby Shire and who could be using the Home Library Service but who is unaware that it is available?


        Yes                                                              No


Please continue with Questions 5-7.


Thank you for taking part.  Please go to the end if you wish to enter the draw for a Borders voucher


5    Please mark the boxes to tell us more about this person.


Resident of Hornsby Shire



A person who is incapacitated or ill and unable to visit the library



The carer of an incapacitated or ill person



A person able to visit the library and choose material but unable to carry it home




Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 23


6    Please mark the formats which would benefit this person.








Regular print

Talking Books on CD or cassette





Large print












Non fiction

Music CDs






7    Please mark the relevant age group of this person


Less than 30  









50 -59

60- 69

70- 79







80 – 84

85 and over




Thank you for your assistance with this questionnaire.




If you would like us to contact any eligible persons who are not using the service please provide their contact details below:




Phone Number: __________________



Have you discussed the Home Library Service with them?   


        Yes                                                              No


If the person would rather contact the Library please ask them to ring

9847 6806 to speak to Home Library staff. 


If staff are visiting customers, or the call is made at weekends or after 5:00 pm, a message can be left on the answering machine.


If you would like to enter the draw to win a $50 Borders voucher for the return of questionnaires, please give your details below.  Details must be received by 30th May 2008 to be eligible for the draw.



Your Name                               _________________________________________


Your Phone Contact      _________________________________________


Your Email Address      _________________________________________

Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 24


Attachment 4 – Home Library Staff Survey




As part of the Home Library Review we would like to have feedback from those who work in the Home Library area – either as part of their regular duties or as relief or casual Home Library assistants.


In answering the following questions please provide us with any information that you think will help to improve the service.



Work Load


1.   Are you able to complete your Home Library work in the allocated time?







If no

·     What type of things stop you from completing your work in the allocated time?



One off




·     On average how much extra time do you work each week?


_________________________________________                N/A


2.   How well do you feel you work is done when you are on leave?


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­            ___________________________________________                              N/A




3.   Do you think there is sufficient back up from other library staff when Home Library staff take planned leave?







4.   Do you think there is sufficient back up from other library staff when Home library staff take unplanned/emergency leave?






5.   What level of stress do you feel when meeting the regular deadlines?


Too high

A bit much






Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 25


6.   How do you think increased publicity about the Home Library Service would affect your workload?


___________________________________________________                    N/A


7.   Would you be happy to see trained volunteers introduced to help with some aspects of Home Library work?







Do you have any other comments on your work load or suggestions for improvement?









Processes & Procedures


8.   Does your work load allow you to keep current with the necessary paperwork?







9.   Are there any parts of the paperwork that you think are no longer necessary or which could be better done on the computer?





If yes, which




10.  Do you feel that Home Library customers are disadvantaged because there is no separate Home Library collection






If Sometimes, in which areas?





11.  How often do you need to ask for branch requests?


___________________________________________________                    N/A



Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 26


12.  How often do you need to ask for Inter Library Loans?


___________________________________________________                    N/A



Do you have any other comments on the processes and procedures involved in your work or suggestions for improvement?









Training & Support


13.  Please list any in-house training that would assist you in Home Library work.







14.  Please list any external training that would assist you in Home Library work.







15.  Please list any professional development seminars/meetings that you would like to attend.


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­            ___________________________________________________________





16.  Do you think that the driver training you received was


Too little


Too much 





17.  What level of support do you feel that the Home Library Service receives from Library administration?


Need more






18.  What level of support do you feel that the Home Library Service receives from other library staff?


Need more




Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 27


Do you have any other comments on the level of training & support received or suggestions for improvement?









OH&S Issues


19.  Please rate the suitability of the Home Library work area in terms of



Too little


Too much 



Furniture/equipment set up

Needs some changes




Computer set up

Needs some changes





Some double handling

Works well



If double handling, in which areas?





20.  Please rate your ability to comply with best practice/safe work methods statements in terms of


Weight of bags and boxes




Lifting of boxes and bags





                      Bending and reaching





            Loading/unloading the Home Library van





            Entering/exiting the van





Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 28


Do you have any other comments in the area of health and safety or suggestions for improvement?









Do you have any further comments you would like to make on these or any other aspects of the Home Library Service?















Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey.



Hornsby Shire Council

Attachment to Report No. CC7/09 Page 29





[1] Hornsby Shire Library, Policy Guidelines for Hornsby Shire Library Home Library Service, November 2007,   p. 2.


[2] Australian Library and Information Association, Guidelines for Australian home library services, [Canberra], ALIA, 2000.  Available at http://www.alia.org.au/policies/home.library.service.html.  Accessed 30/4/07.


[3] Canadian Library Association Interest Group on Services for Older People, Canadian guidelines on library and information services for older adults. [Ottawa], Canadian Library Association, 2000, p 1.


[4] Mylee Joseph, Active engaged value: older people and NSW public libraries. [Sydney], State Library of New South Wales, 2006, p 6.


[5] ‘Gen labels’, The Senior, October, 2008, p. 57.


[6] Australian Bureau of Statistics,   New South Wales Regional Statistics 2007, Canberra, ABS, 2007.             


[7] Australian Bureaus of Statistics, 2006 Census of Population and Housing – Hornsby Local Government Area, Table 2068.0, ‘Age by Sex for Time Series’, Canberra, ABS, 2007.


[8] N O Jackson,  NSW Local Government Population Ageing Project. 2004. Available at http://www.lgsa.org.au/resources/documents/hornsby_shire_council _241105.pdf.


[9] Hornsby Shire Council, Population Forecast, forecast.id, 2008. 


[10] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW),   Older Australia at a Glance, 4th edition, Canberra, AIHW, 2007, p. 11.  http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/age/oag04/oag04.pdf


[11] Australian Bureau of Statistics,  Census of Population and Housing 1996, 2001 and 2006, Canberra, ABS, 1991-2006.


[12] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW),   Older Australia at a Glance, 4th edition, Canberra, AIHW, 2007, p. 11.  http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/age/oag04/oag04.pdf


[13] Carolyn Jones, ‘Home library services in Adelaide South Australia: Practices and Needs’,  Aplis 18(4), December 2005, p 152.


[14] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW),  Life Expectancy and Disability in Australia 1988 to 2003,  Disability Series, Cat. No. DIS47, Canberra, AIHW, 2006, p.3.


[15] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW),  Life Expectancy and Disability in Australia 1988 to 2003,  Disability Series. Cat. No. DIS47. Canberra, AIHW, 2006, p 8.


[16] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW),  Life Expectancy and Disability in Australia 1988 to 2003,  Disability Series, Cat. No. DIS47, Canberra, AIHW, 2006, p 12.


[17] Jayne Boardman, Strategic Plan for Older People (55 years and over) 2005-2010, [Hornsby], Hornsby Shire Council, n.d. http://www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/ourcommunity/index.cfm?NavigationID=1866


[18] Hornsby Shire Council, Strategic Plan for People With a dis-Ability 2005-2010, [Hornsby], Hornsby Shire Council, n.d.  http://www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/uploads/documents/PWD_endorsed1.pdf


[19] Australian Library and Information Association, Guidelines for Australian home library services, [Canberra], ALIA, 2000,  Available at http://www.alia.org.au/policies/home.library.service.html.  Accessed 30/4/07.


[20] Australian Library and Information Association, Guidelines for Australian home library services, [Canberra], ALIA, 2000,  Available at http://www.alia.org.au/policies/home.library.service.html.  Accessed 14/1/08.


[21] Australian Library and Information Association, Guidelines for Australian home library services, [Canberra], ALIA, 2000.  Available at http://www.alia.org.au/policies/home.library.service.html.  Accessed 14/1/08.


[22] Marion Wilson, ‘Understanding the needs of tomorrow’s library user: Rethinking library services for the new age’, Aplis 13(2), June 2000. p 3.


[23] Hornsby Shire Council.  Library & Information Services Group,  Service Plan 2008-2009, Unpublished internal document.