Purpose: The purpose of this research was to investigate how Australian public libraries responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of management, planning and communication. The study also investigated operational approaches to the development and implementation of new and adapted models of service and resource delivery. 
Design/methodology/approach: Utilising a multiple qualitative case study approach, interviews were conducted with 15 Australian public library staff members at three library services – one inner-city, one regional and one remote. Inductive thematic analysis was employed to generate insights into the operations and management strategies employed during the COVID-19 crisis. 
Findings: Findings suggest that public library managers performed admirably in the face of significant logistical, budgetary and regulatory challenges. Five key themes emerged to represent the ways in which public library leaders responded effectively to the crisis: resourcefulness, flexibility, presence, sensitivity and communication. Results also demonstrate the importance placed on library users’ welfare. 
Originality/value: This research represents the first study to focus on the response of Australian public library managers to the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to identify the strategies employed by library leaders to respond effectively. In doing so this research provides valuable insights into how public library managers can prepare for future crises.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-465
Number of pages18
JournalLibrary Management
Issue number6-7
Early online dateAug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 08 Nov 2023


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