Stop the cost-shifting: It’s time to increase state funding for libraries

The upcoming NSW Budget should support public libraries and reduce the burden on financially-stretched councils, says the Greens’ Arts spokesperson, Jan Barham.

“Successive state Governments have allowed the share of funding they provide for library services to decline, putting pressure on local government to make up the shortfall,” Ms Barham said.

“The state Government subsidy to local libraries has remained at $1.85 per capita for over a decade while costs have continued to rise and libraries have delivered new, 21st century services. In 1979/80, the NSW Government contributed 24% of the funding for public libraries, but by 2010/11 their share had dropped to less than 10%.”

A recent report on the National Welfare & Economic Contributions of Public Libraries, commissioned by the Australian Library and Information Association, estimated that every dollar spent by NSW public libraries brings $3.20 in benefits to communities.

“As well as their collections and services, public libraries promote social interaction, reduce environmental impacts through re-use and are a source of lifelong education and self-development. The contribution to our sense of community from libraries is something we can’t afford to lose.”

Ms Barham has launched a bumper sticker campaign and is calling on people to show their support for public libraries.

“Library funding is an investment in community and social capital. The Government’s contribution to libraries should reflect the valuable opportunities for learning and community connections they provide,” Ms Barham said.

Contribution of Australian Public Libraries report

Stickers available from Jan’s office

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061