Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

The Tyranny of Distance: Providing Books to Isolated Public Libraries in Western Australia

Pearl Tan.

Western Australia is a state of one million square miles and a population of 1.8 million people. The State Library of Western Australia provides books and other material (eg, videos, talking-book cassettes, CD-Roms and DVDs) to 238 public libraries scattered throughout this vast area. 1.4 million people reside in metropolitan Perth, serviced by 65 libraries. 173 libraries are in rural Western Australia many of which are small and isolated with minimal staffing and resources. They may also serve a small population who often reside many miles from the library and who might have widely varying needs and reading preferences.

The State Library of Western Australia, through its public library system, is committed to equality of library access for all people in Western Australia. This involves, among other things, the investigation of new technology and its potential for providing an enhanced access to the Western Australian public in new and innovative ways. New technology is realising exciting ways of providing information to people and the challenge is to find means of bringing this technology to isolated readers. This is especially so in the case of Western Australia


Pearl Tan  (Australia)
Consultant: Public Library Services
Public Library Services
State Library of Western Australia

Born and educated in Singapore, Pearl migrated to Perth, Australia in 1987. Degree in English Literature and Philosophy (NUS), post-graduate library studies (Curtin University). Worked in public libraries and the State Library of WA in the areas of music, document delivery and public library services. Enjoys music, scuba-diving and fine food.

  • Public libraries
  • Isolated public libraries
  • Rural and regional Australia

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)