NSW Budget is an overdue opportunity to make library funding fairer

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. This cost-shifting needs to end,” Ms Barham said.

In October 2013, Ms Barham presented a motion in the NSW Legislative Council on state funding to public libraries. “Six months ago, the Upper House supported my motion calling on the Government to review the subsidy and to make sure it keeps pace with future rises in the Consumer Price Index. The Government must increase funding to support councils across the state and their communities.

“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%.”

“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 is calling on people to show their support for public libraries, and has welcomed the NSW Public Library Associations’ community funding campaign.

“Local libraries and councils are voicing their concerns about the need for fairer funding to support these vital services. Everyone can support the campaign by visiting their local libraries to sign a petition and contacting their local member to explain what libraries deliver to the community,” Ms Barham concluded.

Library funding motion and debate, Hansard 24 October 2013

NSW Public Library Associations – Community Funding Campaign

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891