Library funding from the NSW state government to councils has declined from 23.6 per cent in 1980/1 to just 7.5 per cent in 2010/11.
Despite this news, Byron Shire Council agreed to retain the mobile library at its meeting last Thursday, despite staff recommendations to axe the service as part of cost-saving measures of $65,500.
Instead, measures include reducing the shire’s resource purchasing allocation by $20,000 and opening hours will be decreased by one hour, Monday to Friday, in all three library branches.
The council will also write to the NSW government outlining concerns of cuts and request that the state increase its base funding for library services, ‘to meet community needs for library services’.
‘If there was ever proof of cost shifting to councils, this is it,’ said mayor Simon Richardson at Thursday’s meeting.
When asked if the decrease in funding was a concern, Ballina MP Don Page told The Echo, ‘I am a keen supporter of our libraries, especially in the regions’.
‘Since the 1980s state funding for libraries has declined as local council contributions have increased. However, the current state government recognises the historical situation and in our latest budget allocated $26.5 million for public libraries across the state – a $2 million increase on the previous year.’
He added that an additional $4 million over four years from 2011/12 will revitalise regional libraries and that a review’s recommendations, undertaken by the Library Council of NSW, is being considered.