Repositioning a library network for diverse communities and a new age.

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With their long-trusted role of connecting people and providing open access to knowledge, libraries have immense potential to be platforms for progression,
trans­formation and expression. The regional NSW library chain, Lake Mac Libraries, came to us with this challenge: to adapt and thrive.


Ellis Jones set out to effectively understand the main challenges, opportunities, assets, social impact and identity of the Lake Mac Libraries network. This involved:

  •  Strategically reviewing and analysing existing internal and external research
  • Observing the presentation, composition and activity of multiple Lake Mac branches
  • Consulting with library staff through facilitated learning and co-design activities.
  • Utilising the Shared Value model to identify future opportunities and social problems that intersect with Lake Mac Libraries competencies and challenges.
  • Defining working user personas through the use of preliminary audience analysis and empathy mapping

The library now has a platform for engaging and co-designing programs with these new user groups such as the online student, the busy parent and the knowledge worker.

The defining concept that arose from this research, engagement and innovation work – ‘Expand Your World’ – is being applied to all library activities, from creative stakeholder engagement and co-design activities, library interior design, evolution of programming, updates to promotional collateral and the launch of The Rover: the new mobile library designed to engage a diverse range of community members. As a first activation task, Ellis Jones created the concept and design for The Rover.


The launch of The Rover achieved attention and applause from the Lake Macquarie community and media alike. The unique design was developed in collaboration between the Ellis Jones design studio and Australian illustrator, Tim Meakins, to express the core themes of the new library direction: transformation, connection, exploration, community ownership and a welcome surprise. The aesthetic and quirky characterisation sought to create memorable and personal experiences with community members, bringing a new level of dynamism to contact with their library.

“Ellis Jones ran a creative and focused process using social impact, brand and visioning techniques to define the purpose of Lake mac libraries and a plan to activate it. The library team found  the customer journey mapping and persona development  components engaging and inspirational.  EJ then supported the strategic work with beautiful, unique designs that we applied to our library spaces and mobile library. Staff loved the process, and everyone loves the design!”  

Anjana Barnett, Shared Services Coordinator