The Great Aussie Book Count 2021-22

By Michelle Harvey

A peek behind the curtain of the Educational Lending Right (ELR) School Library Survey

We would like to thank everyone who participated in last year’s ELR School Library Survey. We were thrilled to receive results from over 300 schools across the country: an outcome that is truly appreciated during another challenging year.

The ELR School Library Survey is conducted each year by Education Services Australia (ESA) on behalf of the Australian Government’s Office for the Arts. This up-to-date library book count data ensures Australian creators and publishers can receive compensation for the free use of their books in school libraries through the Australian Government’s ELR program. Five minutes is all it takes!

And don’t let the name fool you: ELR is not your typical ‘survey’. Really, it is a great Aussie book count – often automated by your library management system – of holdings available in school libraries. It’s a quick and simple process that makes such a big difference to Australian book creators.

We discovered that the most commonly available titles in school libraries – that were included in the 2021 book count survey – are:

  • Macbeth by Laura Deriu et al (SCIS no. 1291862)
  • Once by Morris Gleitzman (SCIS no. 1226878)
  • Water by Mark Stafford (SCIS no. 1283458)
  • Blueback by Tim Winton (SCIS no. 1397113)
  • Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (SCIS no. 1456443)
  • Away by Michael Gow (SCIS no. 438320)
  • The merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, edited by Penny Gay (SCIS no. 841551)
  • The burnt stick by Anthony Hill (SCIS no. 874598)
  • The simple gift by Steven Herrick (SCIS no. 1007038)
  • Mao’s last dancer by Li Cunxin (SCIS no. 1213592)

And the most popular authors included:

  • Lorraine Wilson
  • Peter Sloan
  • Jackie French
  • Lisa Thompson
  • Katy Pike
  • Sharon Parsons
  • Tim Winton
  • Harry O’Brien
  • Julie Haydon

Each year, a broad selection of primary, secondary and K–12 government, Catholic and Independent schools from across all states and territories are invited to participate in the ELR School Library Survey. In addition, government schools in the ACT, Tasmania and NSW are automatically surveyed by centrally extracting data through the SirsiDynix and Oliver 5 (Softlink) digital library vendors.

The ELR team always likes to receive feedback from participants who take part in the ELR Survey. Last year, 97% of respondents informed us that the ELR Survey was not time-consuming, and that most schools were able to complete the book count survey in less than five minutes! We also discovered that 28% of respondents had participated in ELR surveys in previous years.

From the feedback received, we learnt that 26% of those running the ELR Survey identified as library officers, 18% as teacher librarians and 16% as library technicians. Others included librarians, school administrative staff, heads of library services and IT staff: so really, anyone can take part!

Only 11% of participants told us that they required help to run the ELR survey, with most contacting ESA via email or phone, working with another staff member, or speaking to their library vendor to solve any troubles.

Overall, the feedback we received was very positive, with respondents telling us the ELR survey was quick and easy to complete, with the individual library management systems doing most of the work.

We’d like to offer big congratulations to Jane Salb at Rose Park Primary School in South Australia for completing our participant feedback survey and having her name drawn as the winner of a $150 voucher.

ESA is always keen to hear suggestions from library staff about how the ELR book count survey can be improved. If you would like to offer any advice, please get in touch with us at:  [email protected].

Further information about the ELR School Library Survey can be found on the ESA website. Details on how the survey supports book creators are available from the Australian Lending Right Schemes website. We also have a beautiful collection of Great Aussie Book Count printable items available for you to download and display, including a poster, flyer and colouring page.

If your school is selected to participate in the ELR School Library Survey in 2022, we do hope you’ll take part and help us support Australian book creators so they can continue to do what they do best: make great books!


Michelle Harvey

ELR Project Coordinator

Education Services Australia