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Library and information services

The Institute’s information services, centred around the JV Barry Library, are essential to our role as the national knowledge centre on crime and criminal justice. The library provides information to practitioners, policymakers, academics, students and the general public. The Information Services team also offers fundamental support to AIC researchers, particularly by anticipating their research requirements and proactively sourcing new and authoritative material. Table 8 summarises the key outputs associated with information services.

Table 8: Library services activity, 2017–18 to 2019–20

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

Inquiry responses <15 mins

597

631

619

Hours spent on complex queries

438

511

692

Records added to CINCH

939

821

889

Journal articles supplied by other libraries

381

258

466

Journal articles supplied to other libraries

276

229

268

Items loaned to other libraries

77

50

60

Items borrowed from other libraries

34

17

9

Services for stakeholders

The library maintains and promotes a significant specialist criminological information collection and provides a range of services to inform the sector. These services include:

  • maintaining and developing the CINCH database—the largest single source of Australian criminological resources in Australia;
  • alerting subscribers, by email and RSS feed, to new resources in their subject areas;
  • responding to enquiries from an array of stakeholders including law enforcement and justice personnel, researchers, students and members of the public; and
  • providing hard-copy and electronic materials through national and networked interlibrary loan schemes.

In addition to assisting AIC researchers with literature searches and the provision of resources, library staff also monitor the distribution, reach and influence of AIC publications.

Library collection

The library collection is made up of electronic and print material. The physical collection can be divided into three distinct categories: books, serials or journal articles, and the AIC archive. Although additions to the collection are predominantly in electronic format, hard-copy books are still popular. The print collection currently contains 11,772 books.

CINCH: Australian criminology database

The AIC has developed and maintained the CINCH database of Australasian literature on crime and criminal justice for over 45 years. In addition to providing free, open access to resources from the AIC library catalogue, CINCH is also part of the suite of Australian databases provided by Informit (RMIT). RMIT delivers this content to libraries in universities, government departments, non-government organisations and private companies, predominantly in Australia but with some overseas subscribers too. AIC librarians constantly scan available crime and justice resources to source literature and add it to the CINCH database. The database currently holds over 62,000 records.

Crime and justice email alerts

The monthly Crime and Justice Alerts provide subscribers with relevant and timely crime and justice resources from Australia and overseas. Some of the newly added CINCH items are used for the alerts, along with material from overseas. This free service provides information on 10 topics to 4,486 individual subscribers.

Stakeholder and public enquiries

The library is the AIC’s first point of contact for telephone and email enquiries from external stakeholders and the public. Every day a diverse range of information requests are received by the library team, and they are generally answered within 24 hours. Approximately 50 queries are received each month from clients such as government officers, law enforcement and criminal justice officials, academics, students and members of the public from Australia and overseas.

Networking across sectors

In 2019–20, over 800 items were exchanged through the interlibrary loans service. The JV Barry Library partners with other libraries from agencies in the law enforcement, university, government, health and community sectors to maintain strong reciprocal networks. The library is also a member of Libraries Australia Document Delivery service. This service minimises duplication of resources while maximising the effectiveness and specialisation of library collections across the nation.

The library gives notice of new AIC publications and events to its own Alert subscribers and also to other networks such as the CrimNet email discussion list for criminal justice researchers, practitioners and policymakers; to the Analysis and Policy Observatory for the general research community and policymakers; to library networks both local and international for inclusion in their own databases and to circulate to their users; and to other related professional networks and commercial databases such as EBSCO and ProQuest.

The library also contributes to most of the Institute’s conferences, forums, visiting delegations and seminars.

Distribution, reach and influence of AIC publications

The AIC has a significant influence on criminological research and policy development across multiple jurisdictions, nationally and internationally. Crime and justice researchers and practitioners, international organisations and parliaments continue to use AIC publications—both the most recent papers and those produced in the 1980s. In addition to the numerous journal articles which cite AIC publications, citation analysis shows AIC material being used by all levels of government. In 2019–20, AIC publications were cited by:

  • Parliament of Australia;
  • parliaments of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia;
  • Department of Home Affairs;
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare;
  • Australian Institute of Family Studies;
  • Australian National Audit Office;
  • Australian Law Reform Commission;
  • New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research;
  • New South Wales Corrective Services;
  • Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council;
  • Queensland Productivity Commission; and
  • Western Australian Commission for Children and Young People.

The various materials which cite our publications can be classified by type. As shown in Figure 5 for a sample of 525 publications, citations appeared in a variety of contexts, with over a third occurring in government and parliamentary documents.

 Where AIC material is used. 22% of citations occurred in Government publications, 14% in Parliamentary documents, 17 percent in books, 25% in peer-reviewed journals and 22% in other Australian publications.

Figure 6 shows the broad topic areas of the AIC publications cited.

 Topics of AIC publications cited. 22% of citations related to papers about criminal justice, 12% about domestic violence, another 12% about drugs, 10% about corrections, 9% on child-related topics, 8% on Indigenous matters, 7% on fraud, 6% on homicide and the remaining 14% on other topics.

Database providers

ProQuest, GALE and EBSCO are database providers that host a large range of information products for universities, schools and corporate and government agencies around the world. Their distribution of AIC material indicates its reach. EBSCO statistics show that Trends & issues papers were downloaded 13,715 times during 2019–20. Table 9 indicates the most popular publications in this series.

Table 9: Most popular Trends & issues papers downloaded from EBSCO, 2019–20

Title

Downloads

Predicting repeat domestic violence: Improving police risk assessment (no. 581)

495

The opioid epidemic in North America: Implications for Australia (no. 578)

458

Domestic violence offenders, prior offending and reoffending in Australia (no. 580)

421

Policing repeat domestic violence: Would focused deterrence work in Australia? (no. 593)

342

Benevolent harm: Orphanages, voluntourism and child sexual exploitation in South East Asia (no. 574)

271

What makes juvenile offenders different from adult offenders? (no. 409)

260