Behavioural insights in practice: a lesson from libraries
Putting behavioural insights into practice can be daunting. We helped public libraries from across NSW to incorporate behavioural insights into their work to increase visits and engagement.
If government agencies integrated the latest evidence and experience from behavioural insights into their ways of working, they would be able to bring a fresh perspective to their customers’ challenges and the solutions they build. However, knowing where to start and what to focus on can be challenging.
What we did
The NSW Behavioural Insights Unit partnered with the Public Spaces Division at the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE), the State Library of NSW, the Australian Library Information Association, and the NSW Public Libraries Association to increase community engagement at local libraries following the public health orders of 2020.
Local libraries are an essential part of the network of public spaces across NSW, providing a place for people to gather, share ideas, engage in cultural experiences, and learn. We supported four local libraries to learn how to use behavioural insights to increase awareness of and access to their libraries’ services.
What we learned
We ran a series of workshops to help partners and local libraries develop and test behaviourally informed interventions to raise awareness and increase access to local library services.
Understand your customers through surveys
Staff from the local libraries invited their members and visitors to complete a survey to learn more about barriers their customers faced and how to address these to encourage uptake of their services. Check out our guide on increasing survey completion.
Use behavioural frameworks to build solutions
The libraries used the COM-B model to identify and explore the barriers and enablers to using their services. The COM-B model can be used like a checklist of different behavioural factors that could potentially influence your customers ability to use your service. Check out the COM-B model.
The libraries also used the Easy, Attractive, Social, Timely (EAST) framework to develop solutions to encourage their target behaviour. The EAST framework can be used to generate ideas to influence your customers and promote the use of your services. Check out the EAST framework.
Test whether your intervention worked
The libraries captured data on their customers’ behaviour to see whether the changes they implemented were effective. Some of the libraries compared this behaviour before and after the intervention, while others used A/B tests (a feature available in most online communication platforms, like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor). Check out our guide to testing to learn more.
What were the results?
City of Sydney library saw a 124 per cent increase in unique eBook pageviews from their newsletter.
Northern Beaches library visitation increased by 21% after promoting their new refurbishment in their newsletter.
Wagga Wagga city council library junior membership increased 15% relative to comparable periods.
Check out the results and more about the project in DPE's project report.
Drew Pinazza from Transport NSW commented that they continue to use BIU techniques in the design of their initiatives, programs, and projects.
Cameron Morely from the State Library of NSW reflected that the process and methodology helped library staff learn how to scope and run successful behavioural consultations with their customers.
Our partners and local councils showed us that you don’t need to be an expert in behavioural insights to build behaviour change and improve outcomes for your customers. There are plenty of free and ready-to-use resources, so you can get started applying behavioural insights today!