The Greens are calling for fairer state government funding of public libraries to take the pressure off local councils.
Greens candidate for Richmond, Dawn Walker and Greens spokesperson for the Arts, Jan Barham MLC, say library costs have historically been shifted to cash-strapped councils, and some have been forced to make cuts to services.
Ms Barham says libraries are vital community assets and she was ‘pleased to hear that Richmond Tweed regional libraries are getting the recognition they deserve with some recent funding grants’.
‘Technology kiosks are great, but library funding should be ongoing and not just one-off grants in the lead up to a federal election,’ she said.
.’Library costs have historically been shifted to cash-strapped councils, and some have been forced to make cuts to services.’
Ms Barham said NSW has the lowest level of state government contributions to library funding in the country, and local councils struggle to cover the gap.
‘The state contribution to library funding has reduced from about 24 per cent in 1980 down to around 7 per cent in 2013, leaving councils to fund 93 per cent of library costs,’ she said.
Ms Walker said the Liberal National government ‘promised before the 2011 state election that it would review library funding and end what it said was “Labor’s under funding and neglect”’.
‘But five years on the Liberals and Nationals have not delivered on their promise. There has been no comprehensive review and the state government has continued to underfund our public libraries,’ she said.
‘Libraries are much more than places to read books. They are a safe and friendly community hub for information, technology, social and educational programs and are highly valued by our community.
‘In 2013 when Lismore Council announced the closure of Goonellabah Library as a budget measure, the huge public outcry from the community forced the council to reconsider.
‘That demonstrated the financial pressures on councils to maintain libraries, and the great value placed on libraries by the community.
‘For every dollar spent on public libraries, they deliver a community benefit of around $3.20.
‘The level of state funding for libraries must reflect the importance of this investment in our communities,’ Ms Walker said.