A NSW Government website

Great public spaces

Public facilities

Public facilities

Free and publicly accessible libraries, galleries, community centres, showgrounds and museums are key to our community’s vitality, and are of increasing importance as our cities grow. Through telling our diverse stories and being places for everyone, they contribute to our heritage, identity, and local character.

Within their buildings, grounds and virtual spaces, public facilities provide places for everybody to gather, share ideas, engage in cultural experiences and learn. They are constantly evolving, including through growing online spaces for culture, learning and connection.

While planning your visit, be sure to contact the venue or check their website to confirm if they are open and what (if any) restrictions are in place. Some venues may have sections which remain closed, or capacity limits meaning you might be required to book online before arriving, or wait before being able to enter.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment manages a number of leading public facilities for the community to enjoy. These spaces allow us to explore and celebrate our customs, traditions and stories:

More information on ideas and opportunities to help create great public facilities can be found in our Great Public Spaces Guide.

Innovative partnerships

We have partnered with the State Library of NSW, the NSW Department of Customer Service’s Behavioural Insights Unit, the Australian Library Information Association and the NSW Public Libraries Association.

The partner group is working with 4 councils on a 12-month project aiming to increase access to their local libraries’ services in response to COVID-19.

The 4 participant councils include Bega Valley Shire Council, City of Sydney, Northern Beaches Council, and Wagga Wagga City Council who are all applying a behavioural approach specific to their local circumstances. There are 15 public libraries across the 4 participating councils that provide library services to over 230,000 members.

To initiate the project, surveys were conducted with over 5,500 library members in February and July 2021, where we found:

  • The top items that would encourage people to visit their library more include the availability of books and events, flexibility of opening times, awareness of services, and increasing access to library spaces;
  • The main reason selected by members to visit their local library (80%) is to browse and borrow collection items. Public libraries are also used as spaces for individual activities; and
  • More than 70% of library members visited their library – either in person or online – in the last 6 months. Most members visit their library at least once or twice per month.

The project team hosted a series of workshops to develop the libraries’ understanding of behavioural insights. By the end of the workshop series, each library had developed a behaviourally informed intervention to increase the use of their libraries’ services.

Some of the key outcomes from the capability building workshops included:

  • How to identify barriers and enablers to accessing their libraries’ services
  • How to design and implement an intervention using behavioural frameworks
  • How to measure the effectiveness of their intervention

The project and its partners are now responding to the current constraints of recent COVID-19 public health orders and focussing on how to support the community into future recovery.

Northern Beaches Council

Northern Beaches Council

Wagga Wagga City Council

Wagga Wagga City Council

Green Square interior

City of Sydney

City of Sydney

Bega Valley Shire Council

Digital activities

The stronger our online communities grow, the more resilient these important public spaces will be in the future.

In response to COVID-19, many public facilities have created online content, offering exciting and engaging activities for all ages. Find out more at: