Council calls on NSW Govt to Renew Our Libraries
With State Government financial support at an all-time low following yet another Budget cut, Inner West Council is calling for additional funding for public libraries.
Councillors unanimously agreed to endorse the Renew Our Libraries campaign, as the funding crisis facing NSW public libraries worsens.
NSW public libraries receive more than 35 million visits a year, but State funding has not increased to match the increase in demand and, in fact, was slashed by 5% in the 2018-19 State Budget.
“Libraries in the Inner West play a very important part in our community life, serving over one million customers on an annual basis,” said Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne.
“They are truly democratic places where everyone has the same access to the same collections, programs and spaces.
“They are a haven for marginalised groups, including older people, refugee and multicultural communities, and people who are digitally disadvantaged.
“Inner West Council is calling on the State Government to increase the subsidies for all public libraries in NSW so that the funding is comparable to, or better than, our neighbouring states.
“At just 7.8% of total funding, the NSW contribution to libraries is the lowest in Australia, far behind Victoria [18%] and Queensland [12%],” he said.
“The intent of the NSW Library Act in 1939 was for State and Local Governments to provide equal funding for public library services. Since that time, Local Government has carried more and more of the funding burden and the situation has deteriorated significantly over the past few decades.
“We have also asked the Government to create a $25 million public infrastructure plan so our libraries will have the same priority in our community as sporting stadiums and new motorways.”
Citizens can support the campaign and sign the petition. Go to http://renewourlibraries.com.au/
2018-2019: State Budget delivers a 5% cut to current funding and cuts access to all infrastructure funding for metropolitan areas. NSW councils paying 92.5% of the costs to operate public libraries
2016: Then Minister for the Arts, the Hon. Troy Grant, undertakes to review library funding as part of the State Government’s Fit for the Future program. Nothing eventuates
2012: Reforming Public Library Funding, recommending a fairer, simpler and more transparent method for the distribution of funds is presented to the State Government. Nothing eventuates
2011: NSW State Government makes a pre-election commitment to comprehensively review the level and allocation of funding for NSW public libraries. Nothing eventuates
1980: NSW councils paying 77% of the costs to operate public libraries
1939: The Library Act is introduced to ensure the ongoing sustainability of libraries through State Government and Local Government collaboration, and providing up to 50% of funding required to establish and operate libraries