Show some love for libraries: Greens support Library Day of Action

Greens MP and spokesperson for the Arts, Jan Barham, is calling on the community to stand up and speak out for local libraries by supporting the NSW Public Libraries Association’s Day of Action on Friday 5 December.

“It’s a disgraceful fact that NSW has the lowest level of funding for public libraries in Australia. Communities feel the impact of poor funding from the state government, as the cost-shifting leaves many councils forced to consider a reduction of services or even closures.

“Public libraries are one of our most valuable resources, providing more than just access to books. They have evolved to become a place of lifelong learning and for community connections. The membership and use of libraries is increasing with over 3.2 million memberships in NSW, equal to 44% of the population,” Ms Barham said.

The NSW Public Libraries Association is holding a day of action on Friday, 5 December, continuing their campaign for funding reform which has already seen 70,000 signatures collected on a petition to the Parliament.

“Government funding for public libraries has been in decline for decades. In 1980 the NSW Government funded almost a quarter of the total expenditure on library services, but by 2013 their contribution dropped to 7.1%.

“The Coalition has been presented with expert recommendations to make funding fairer, and before the 2011 election they committed to engage with stakeholders and address the underfunding and neglect. But they’ve failed to deliver the much-needed reform to funding for library services,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham noted that the Greens have committed to improve funding for libraries and ensure they remain accessible and free across the state.

“I’m a passionate supporter of libraries and appreciate the value they have for our communities. I have raised the issue in Parliament and received support for a motion for the Government to review the funding and recognise the community benefit of libraries.

“I’ll be joining my community on the steps of Byron Bay Library this Friday to show support for libraries. The Greens will be involved in other activities across the state and we are making available booklets, bookmarks and stickers so that library lovers can get the facts and press all political parties to make a commitment to the future of these vital community services,” Ms Barham said.

Fund Our Libraries – the Greens’ website on libraries and library funding

NSW Public Libraries Association

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

Background:

In 2013, NSW public libraries had:

  • over 35 million visits (up 30% since 2000)
  • over 46 million loans
  • over 5.4 million internet sessions via computer terminals and WiFi
  • almost 3.2 million members (44% of the NSW population)
  • more than 56,000 public programs and events
  • more than 1.2 million attendees at public programs
  • more than 9 million website visits

Source: State Library of NSW, Public Library Statistics 2012/13

Research published in 2013 by SGS Economics analysed the benefits of libraries, which include not only services and programs but:

  • the social interaction they facilitate
  • the sense of place and enhanced local amenity
  • the environmental savings generated through re-use of library collections
  • contributions to language and computer literacy
  • the contribution of libraries to improved education, career development and health outcomes.

It was estimated that the annual expenditure of $335 million by NSW public libraries returned benefits to the community worth more than $1 billion – which means that every dollar spent on public libraries delivers a community benefit of around $3.20.

Source: National Welfare and Economic Contributions of Public Libraries

Fund Our Libraries: An Investment in Communities

Cover of booklet - "Funding Public Libraries"

I’ve been campaigning for improvements to NSW Government funding of public libraries, which has declined over decades and resulted in cost-shifting to local councils. At the NSW Public Libraries Association pre-election forum on 28th October 2014 I spoke and unveiled our new booklet about library services and funding. You can download a PDF of the booklet and we’ll soon be launching a website that has all the information, news about how you can support the campaign, and access to request free copies of our booklets, stickers and bookmarks.

Visit this page to find out more.

Aboriginal Art Prize open for entries

Jan Barham MLC, Greens spokesperson for Arts, Aboriginal Affairs and the North Coast, is encouraging artists to enter the Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize (PNSWAAP).

“The Parliament’s Aboriginal Art Prize is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Aboriginal art in the Parliament and in a travelling show and delivers a substantial prize for the successful artist,” said Ms Barham.

Ms Barham said that the Aboriginal Art Prize is an annual acquisitive art award, with prize money totalling $40,000. It is presented to an Aboriginal visual artist over the age of 18, born in or living in New South Wales.

“Last year’s winner was Byron Shire artist Karla Dickens with a work entitled ‘January 26, Day of Mourning’. The work is an Australian flag hand embroidered with crosses and as Karla describes in her artist statement, it represents the grief and loss that is felt by Aboriginal people on that day. This is the power of art, to present an emotional message that speaks of the pain, grief and the need for healing” said Ms Barham.

PNSWAAP is organised by the Parliament of New South Wales in partnership with Campbelltown City Council, the New South Wales Government, through Arts NSW, the College of Fine Arts, UNSW and Coal & Allied.

One finalist in the Aboriginal Arts Prize will be awarded the College of Fine Arts (COFA) Aboriginal Arts Residency Prize that presents the opportunity to work with COFA staff in a medium or mediums of the recipient’s choice; weekly attendance at COFA during the academic year; a travel allowance of $1,200; up to $1,500 towards the cost of art supplies and a solo exhibition at COFA during the 2015 Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art Prize if the recipient desires.

Closing date for entries is Friday 1 August and the Awards Announcement will be Wednesday 15 October. An Exhibition of selected works will be held at Parliament of New South Wales – Tuesday 30 September 2014 to Thursday 30 October 2014.

Entry forms can be obtained by emailing info@c-a-a.com.au or by calling 4645 4100 for a hard copy form to be mailed to you. Further information about the exhibition & past winners.

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

January 26, Day of Mourning – Artist’s Statement
The majority of Australia celebrates 26 January by wrapping themselves in the red, white and blue flag, having barbecues and feeling proud to be young and free. I cringe, stay close to dear friends, do all I can not to leave the house and respectfully hold my grief – the grief for the old, grief for the continuous denial, grief for the disrespect, grief for the lack of acknowledgment and the poor choice of the day to celebrate. After finding the flag at the tip, I went about handsewing my grief, with one cross after another. Unfortunately, it’s only a small gesture to reflect the true loss.

PHOTO – Rhoda Roberts and Jan Barham in front of ‘January 26, Day of Mourning’ at the exhibition opening and announcement of winner. (Karla Dickens was unable to attend the event)

Rhoda Roberts and Jan Barham in front of ‘January 26, Day of Mourning’

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

Notice of Motion – Biennale of Sydney

Notice of Motion given 5 March 2014:

1. That this House notes that:
(a) The Biennale of Sydney is a popular cultural event that adds value to the lives of the people of NSW,
(b) The Biennale of Sydney was established in 1973 by Franco Belgiorno-Nettis and Transfield,
(c) The 19th Biennale, from 21 March – 9 June 2014, with free entry, will take place at a variety of venues around Sydney with more than 85 artists, including many from overseas and many up and coming Australian artists as well as more established ones,
(d) The 19th Biennale of Sydney, with a budget of some $10 million, has received financial support from many sources including $1.4 million from the NSW government, and substantial funding from the Australia Council as well as benefactors and supporters including some $600,000 from Transfield interests,
(e) Deloitte Access Economics reported that the 18th Biennale of Sydney in 2012 added $56 million to the NSW economy, and that
(f) The 18th Biennale was a free event and attracted some 665,000 visitors making it one of the premier cultural events in NSW.

2. That this House notes that:
(a) Art presents an opportunity for a range of diverse opinions to be expressed publicly
(b) Many artists participating in this year’s Biennale of Sydney, on 19 February 2014, wrote an open letter to the Board of the Biennale expressing concern that Transfield; including Transfield Services which has secured contracts with the Australian Government to provide services to detention centres in Manus and Nauru Islands; will receive value adding from their support of the Biennale and want the Board to cut ties with Transfield due to the mandatory detention of refugees on those two islands,
(c) These artists wanted “to extend this discussion to a range of people and organisations” and requested an urgent response from the Board and invited them “into this process of engagement”,
(d) Following a meeting on the 21 February, The Board of the Biennale of Sydney on 22 February 2014, responded to this open letter from the artists expressing empathy for their concerns but maintained that “The only certainty is that without our Founding Partner, the Biennale will no longer exist” and then encouraged the artists to express their concerns through their art,
(e) The five artists who withdrew from the Biennale on 26 February 2014, Libia Castro, Ólafur Ólafsson, Charlie Sofo, Gabrielle de Vietri and Ahmet Öğüt, have done so with financial loss to themselves .

3. That this House encourages artists to freely express their concerns through their art to bring matters of importance to the attention of audiences;

4. That this house congratulates the artists who withdrew from the 19th Biennale of Sydney for taking a stand on Australia’s position on the treatment of refugees.

NSW Public Libraries Funding – GIPA Treasure Trove

Recently we received our Government Information (Public Access) request on the 2012 funding review of NSW public libraries. To access the full suite of released documents click here.

We have analysed the documents provided under the GIPA request and developed a short presentation which you can check out by clicking “Start Prezi” below (or by clicking here).

The NSW Legislative Council recently passed my motion on Public Library funding. Watch the video of the debate here.

The text of the motion is below. To read the full debate, click here.

The Hon. JAN BARHAM [10.48 a.m.]: I move:

        (1) That this House notes that:
          (a) libraries are a fundamental part of the educational and cultural vibrancy of community;
          (b) libraries provide life learning and opportunities for social interaction;
          (c) under the terms of the Library Act 1939 the State Library of New South Wales administers the Government’s Public Library Grants and Subsidies program, which provides funding on an annual basis to local authorities to assist in the provision of public library services throughout New South Wales;
          (d) Arts NSW via State cultural institutions manages significant cultural heritage collections and provides services and programs throughout the State, and together these institutions provide a unique and irreplaceable archive of the State’s history and contemporary culture; and
          (e) the Library Act 1939 and the library regulation state that:
            (i) “State and Local Government authorities work collaboratively together to enable public libraries in New South Wales to meet the evolving needs and demands of the community”;
            (ii) the age of a collection is a key consideration when determining the adequacy of a public library;
            (iii) the Library Council of NSW “Age of Collections” standards state that at least 49 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last five years and 90 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last 10 years; and
            (iv) the size of a public library’s collection should respond to the changing and growing size of a community.
      (2) That this House notes that:
          (a) in 1939 New South Wales councils were eligible for a subsidy from the Government for the provision of library services, and under section 13 (2) (b) of the original Library Act 1939 the subsidy was set at one shilling per resident within the council area;
          (b) in 1952 the subsidy rate under the Library Act was set at one shilling and sixpence per resident within a council area;
          (c) in 1979-80, $8,478,905 was spent by the Government on public library services while total local government expenditure in 1980 was $27,517,031;
          (d) in 2010-11 expenditure by local government on public library services was $314,284,780, whereas expenditure by the Government was $25,538,000, which includes $2 million for the Country Library Fund; and
          (e) from 1979-80 to 2010-11 the percentage of funding provided by local government to public libraries increased from 74.6 per cent of the total funding on an annual basis to 92.5 per cent, while Government funding decreased from 23.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent on an annual basis.
        (3) That this House calls on the Government to:
          (a) review the subsidy rate of $1.85 prescribed in the Library Regulation 2010 and index the subsidy rate to the consumer price index [CPI]; and
          (b) review restoring Government funding for public libraries from the current 7.5 per cent to 20 per cent.

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Address: SWITCH 2013 NSW Public Libraries Conference

Jan Barham’s Opening Address delivered at SWITCH 2013: Creating Libraries for our Communities, Monday 25th November 2013, Australian Technology Park, Redfern.

Good morning. Thank you Uncle Chicka for your Welcome to Country; I acknowledge that we are meeting on the land of the Gadigal people and pay respect to elders past and present. I’m from Arakwal country of the Bundjalung nation and I will tell you of the important connection the Arakwal people have with my local library shortly.

Thank you for inviting me to speak at your “Creating Libraries for our Communities “conference, I am very pleased to do so as I am a library lover and a long term member of my local Friends of the Library.

I am, however, disappointed that I am unable to be here for the conference as this week is the last week of the Legislative Council sitting. I have looked at the agenda and there are some very exciting presentations and discussions about the fantastic work happening in libraries and the ways they can meet community needs in the future.

Since coming into the NSW Parliament in 2011, as the Greens spokesperson for the Arts I’ve taken up the cause of advocating for the State Government to increase its support for public libraries.

There is no doubt about the importance of libraries , with 376 public libraries in NSW, 142 in metropolitan NSW and 234 in country areas and they are essential community hubs.

Key indicators of public library use show that the public are highly valued by their communities. 2012 figures show:

  • almost 35 million visits to NSW public libraries (up 30% since 2000);
  • almost 48 million loans;
  • over 3 million internet hours used by the public;
  • almost 3.2 million library members (44% of the NSW population);
  • more than 52,000 public programs and events; and
  • more than 1.2 million people attended public programs (up 38% since 2008).

There’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein about the importance of libraries: “The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”

But the unfortunate reality for libraries is perhaps the fact that they are sometimes taken for granted. It’s often not until a library may be lost or services are proposed to be cut that communities take a stand to protect and preserve these wonderful resources in our communities and on this they are united.

Like many people I have fond memories of my childhood spent in my local library. In my home there were few books, no TV and little discussion and my introduction to my library and the wonderful world of books was powerful. I loved the coolness and the quietness and the opportunity to discover the world.

When I moved to my home area of Byron Bay, I spent a lot of time in the library, I wanted to know the history of the area and find out who and what was going on in my new community. At that stage the library adjoined the council chambers in the middle of Byron Bay but the council decided to sell the building. It is now a backpacker hostel and shops. But what happened was that all the money went into building a new chamber in Mullumbimby and a replacement library site was not allocated. A temporary location was provided, a very small building of only 130sqm. That temporary location remained for 16 years. But I was one of many who was committed to a new library for the Bay.

In 1999 I was elected to council and joined the library committee. By then the council was broke and there were some who believed that with the new technology age that books and therefore libraries were not needed.

As this attitude was gaining momentum with the elected body and staff I attended a conference at Qld Uni Ipswich library, with the Director of Community Services. It was fantastic; it provided a new insight into the role of libraries and the Director became an advocate and planning for the new library proceeded. We just needed a site, and this is where the Arakwal people came into it. My community had been supporting the native title claimants for many years in their negotiations with the State regarding their ILUA and it was the Elder, Aunty Lorna who, being aware of the importance of libraries, asked me if we discuss how we could provide a site through their claim. So it began and now the Byron Bay community has a prominent location in the town, for the new library.

I was honoured to open it in February of this year, a few months after I finished my term of council. So my commitment to libraries comes from many years of struggling to ensure that my legacy was the delivery of that most important public facility. I am very proud of that.

It took many years but is now flourishing as it not only features a large, 1200sqm library space but also features an exhibition space, 2 meeting rooms and a dedicated Arakwal Aboriginal room for their archives and meetings. It is also a 5 star green building.

The meeting rooms are for general community use and learning opportunities, as partnerships with local educational institutions were part of the planning to enhance the library activities. The way the new Byron Library is configured, and the opportunities it offers to the community, is a prime example of the changing nature of libraries. I love the fact that these days, there are also quiet rooms as the general spaces are vibrant and active.

People’s perceptions about libraries are changing because libraries as we know them are changing. Libraries are a fundamental part of the educational and cultural vibrancy of community, providing lifelong learning and opportunities for social interaction. People used to go to libraries for the quiet environment and for studying, but their function and structure have now changed. The old-fashioned idea of a library as a place for quiet reflection and study has turned into one of community vibrancy with access to technology, discussion, interaction, exhibitions and sometimes performance.

Libraries are safe places in our communities. They bring together and celebrate the diversity of our communities and provide opportunities for the sharing of ideas and cultural difference. They provide resources to those who have special needs and have expanded their role with the benefit of technology, the provision of e services are especially important for those who cannot physically attend a library, the aged and disabled, also my portfolio areas. I am also very interested in the session from Waverley about the needs of the homeless; this is also a portfolio area of mine and I applaud you for this consideration.

I expect that the high value of library services to our communities is apparent to everyone in this room, but research evidence to help make the case to government and policy-makers is always helpful. Fortunately the benefits that come from libraries were quantified in March of this year, in a report commissioned by the Australian Library and Information Association and conducted by SGS Economics and Planning.

That report, titled “National Welfare & Economic Contributions of Public Libraries,” estimated the net contribution public libraries make to community welfare, as well as the economic activity induced by public library operations.

The benefits of public libraries that they identified include not only the services and programs made available by libraries, but:

  • the social interaction they facilitate,
  • the sense of place and enhanced local amenity,
  • the environmental savings generated through re-use of library collections,
  • contributions to language and computer literacy, and
  • the contribution of libraries to improved education, career development and health outcomes.

The cost benefit analysis in that report estimated that here in NSW, the annual cost of public libraries is just over $335 million, but the benefits they contribute are more than $1 billion. In other words, the report concluded that every dollar spent on public libraries delivers a community benefit of around $3.20. And the authors noted that the estimate might be conservative, because their estimates didn’t fully capture the community benefit from libraries’ increasing online presence. The report’s analysis of economic activity estimated that NSW libraries support almost 12,000 jobs across the state and add nearly one and a half billion dollars in economic activity.

Despite these economic benefits, the burden of supporting public libraries has increasingly fallen on local government. In 1979-80 State Government funding through the Ministry of Arts was 23.6 per cent of overall funding for maintenance of library services, but that has been reduced to 7.5 per cent. The base subsidy rate prescribed in the regulations has remained at $1.85 per capita since 1997 – that’s 16 years without any change to reflect increases in the consumer price index. We know that wages, superannuation and the demand for new resources have led to service cost increases. But we all know its money well spent.

As well as these state-wide figures, this year I have begun communicating with all councils across the state to find out more about their experience of the costs and challenges associated with fostering their communities through library services.

There has been incredible feedback. Councils have responded with information about their funding arrangements, their increasing need to pursue grant funding and the challenges as they continue to focus on delivering relevant services for their local communities. I made available a parliamentary petition and have been receiving bundles of signatures from all over the state, which I have tabled in the Legislative Council.

Last year I placed a motion on the notice paper in support of libraries and last month it was debated and received support from members of all political persuasions. If you want to hear your elected representatives, not only from the Greens but from the Liberal, National, Labor and Christian Democratic Parties discussing their own experience of libraries and their commitment to support them, I encourage you to read the Legislative Council Hansard from Thursday, 24th October of this year.

It’s welcome to have political recognition of the importance of libraries and I hope that will translate into improved funding – something I will continue to campaign for, and which I know the NSW Public Library Associations will continue to make the case for and I encourage all of you to continue to campaign for this much needed funding increase. I believe that libraries are an investment in the future, not just in learning and education but in social capital.

It’s important to take stock of the great work our libraries are already doing and the services they are delivering to our communities, which are often especially important to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people within those communities.

And we need to examine the evolving challenges facing the library sector. Rather than diminishing in importance as technological advances and the rise of the internet have allowed people to access information from their own homes, or even from their mobile phones, libraries have become a crucial hub for people to access that technology, to get additional benefits out of it, and to engage with knowledge, education and social participation.

The program for this conference is an exciting one that covers these current practices and future opportunities. I’m sure that you have an engaging and productive two days ahead of you, and that you will leave here even better equipped to support your communities through your libraries, now and into the future.

I thank you all for your dedication to libraries and your communities and for important work that you do in providing these vital facilities. There has been so much change in the last 20 years and there will be so much more because as the world changes, so do libraries.

Their relevance will not be diminished, they will adapt and in many cases provide new and changing services that serve the wellbeing of communities.

I will continue to advocate for additional library support and next year I hope to do a tour of libraries, so I will be making contact about when I might come and visit. Also, don’t hesitate to make contact if you have a library issue or an event.

I am delighted to declare the SWITCH 2013: Creating Libraries for our Communities conference open. Thank you.

NSW Upper House calls for a review of library funding

Greens MP and Arts spokesperson, Jan Barham, has welcomed the NSW Legislative Council’s support for libraries and a review of the level of state funding.

“Since 1980, the NSW Government’s contribution to library funding has dropped from around a quarter of the total costs to less than 10 per cent. This is another example of cost-shifting from state to local government. Councils have carried too much of the burden in supporting local libraries, and as a result they have sometimes had to reduce services and struggled to provide new services to the public,” Ms Barham said.

“The Legislative Council passed a motion calling on the Government to review their subsidy rate to libraries, which has been fixed at $1.85 per capita since 1997 instead of keeping pace with rising costs.”

“My Parliamentary colleagues recognised the valuable contribution libraries make to the resilience and vibrancy of our 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,” Ms Barham said.

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.

“With this support from the Parliament, now is the time for communities to lobby the Government to review its funding ahead of next year’s Budget. I encourage the Government to take long-overdue action and deliver more funding to libraries across the state.”

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

Hansard 24 October 2013 – debate on Jan Barham’s library funding motion

Contribution of Australian Public Libraries report

Text of the motion as passed:

1. That this House notes that:
(a) libraries are a fundamental part of the educational and cultural vibrancy of community,
(b) providing life learning and opportunities for social interaction,
(c) under the terms of the Library Act 1939, the State Library of New South Wales administers the Government’s Public Library Grants and Subsidies program, which provides funding on an annual basis to local authorities to assist in the provision of public library services throughout New South Wales,
(d) Arts NSW, via the New South Wales state cultural institutions, manage significant cultural heritage collections and provide services and programs throughout the state, and together, these institutions provide a unique and irreplaceable archive of the state’s history and contemporary culture, and
(e) the Library Act 1939 and the Library Regulation state that:
(i) “State and Local Government authorities work collaboratively together to enable public libraries in New South Wales to meet the evolving needs and demands of the community”,
(ii) the age of a collection is a key consideration when determining the adequacy of a public library,
(iii) the Library Council of NSW “Age of Collections” standards states that at least 49 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last five years and 90 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last 10 years,
(iv) the size of a public library’s collection should respond to the changing and growing size of a community.

2. That this House notes that:
(a) in 1939, New South Wales councils were eligible for a subsidy from the Government for the provision of library services, and under section 13(2)(b) of the original Library Act 1939 the subsidy was set at one shilling per resident within the council area,
(b) in 1952, the subsidy rate under the Library Act was set at one shilling and sixpence per resident within a council area,
(c) in 1979-80, $8,478,905 was spent by the Government on public library services while total local government expenditure in 1980 was $ 27,517,031,
(d) in 2010-11, expenditure by local government on public library services was $314,284,780, whereas expenditure by the Government was $25, 538,000, which includes $2 million for the Country Library fund, and
(e) from 1979-80 to 2010-11, the percentage of funding provided by local government to public libraries increased from 74.6 per cent of the total funding on an annual basis to 92.5 per cent, while Government funding decreased from 23.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent on an annual basis.

3. That this House calls on the Government to:
(a) review the subsidy rate of $1.85 prescribed in the Library Regulation 2010 and index the subsidy rate to consumer price index (CPI), and
(b) review restoring Government funding for public libraries from the current 7.5 per cent to 20 per cent.

Increase state funding for public libraries: Sign the petition; Request the stickers

Public libraries are a vital community service. But the NSW Government’s contribution to library funding hasn’t kept pace with rising costs, which has seen the burden shift across to local government. Councils now contribute more than 90% of the funding for public libraries; thirty years ago, their contribution was around three-quarters.

Here’s how you can show your support for public libraries:

  1. Download this petition. Sign it yourself, collect as many signatures as you can, send send it to Jan Barham’s office. Your signatures will be tabled in Parliament.
  2. Request stickers from Jan Barham’s office – email jan.barham@parliament.nsw.gov.au or call (02) 9230 2603 and let us know how many you would like and where to send them.

Increase State Funding for Public Libraries

Creative Industries response fails to commit to the regions and training

The NSW Government’s response to the Creative Industries Action Plan falls short on tangible support for the regions and training for the sector’s future, according to Greens MPs Jan Barham and John Kaye.

Greens NSW Arts spokesperson Jan Barham said, “The Government’s response presents a lost opportunity. They have supported some important, big-ticket initiatives with a Sydney focus, including the Vivid festival and a Digital Innovation Precinct cluster in Ultimo and Pyrmont. But what is missing is support for regional communities, where economic and employment opportunities are desperately needed and where a lot of creative people are relocating.”

“As the creative success in the Northern Rivers demonstrates, there is a trend for creative people to move to rural and regional areas. This can revitalise regional areas and provide new opportunities for tourism growth through public art, vibrant music and handcrafted items such as fashion and jewellery. The increase in internet shopping and broadband availability is also providing major opportunities for regional growth in creative industries.

“As a creative hub, employment in the Northern Rivers’ arts and creative industries grew 25% faster than the rest of NSW’s regional economy, and more than doubled the Sydney growth rate between 2001 and 2006. This trend should be expanded on as a model throughout the regions, but the Government delivered no major financial support for this important industry sector.”

“The Northern Rivers has proven success stories in the creative industries. In recent years, the locally produced ABC series ‘East of Everything ‘ proved that the skills and talent exist in the region, and it delivered huge economic and employment opportunities. And this year the North Coast production company, Mememe Productions, were awarded an International Digital Emmy Award at Cannes in the category of Children and Young People for their Dirtgirlworld .. .dig it all project.

“New creative areas such as digital productions are at a crucial stage. The continuation of Government programs such as the Interactive Media Fund is vital to keeping NSW at the forefront of these emerging creative areas.

“The Government response has not identified any significant financial investment in this field and that could be a great loss for what is a vibrant and celebrated part of the cultural creative sector,” said Ms Barham.

Greens NSW Education spokesperson John Kaye said, “The government’s refusal to reinstate the $800 million it cut from TAFE makes their commitment to improve the creative industries in NSW a vacuous promise. Ending subsidies for Fine Arts TAFE courses and the resulting astronomical increases in course fees have made it increasingly difficult for those with a passion for the creative industries to follow this path.

“The government’s response also completely ignores the informal, cultural and social benefits of a thriving creative industry. Creative opportunities can provide stress relief, improve confidence, develop new skills, offer alternative income and enhance community vibrancy.

“The government is keen to exploit the financial potential of the creative industries yet the Minister is not prepared to invest to secure a pool of new talent.

“For many it takes a long time to make creative operations financially viable. The prospect of huge TAFE fees will undoubtedly discourage many budding artists.

“The O’Farrell government must reverse its cuts to TAFE and increase investment in the creative industries across the state,” Dr Kaye said.

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