The recent sate budget announcement that the NSW government will cut library funding by 18 per cent has caused an outcry not only from the NSW public libraries association but also Greens candidate for the seat of Lismore, Sue Higginson.
‘Our libraries are such an important community asset and resource. Everyone has a library story. When I had my first child and I lived quite remote I used to take my child to the Lismore Library to read stories, borrow books and really importantly, meet other parents. Now 26 years later my daughter takes my 9 month old grandson to story reading sessions,’ said Ms Higginson
‘She meets other parents, he interacts with other infants and only last week the fire brigade came to show the children what a fire truck and fire fighter looks like up close.
‘Research indicates that every dollar spent on public libraries delivers a community benefit of around $3.20 and that use of libraries is on the increase, particularly for less advantaged members of our community. It’s unfair and bad business when the Lib/Nat coalition is announcing a $4 billion surplus that our public libraries are being run into the ground.’
Dallas Tout, President of NSW Public Libraries Association (NSW PLA), representing a network of 368 public libraries across the State said that these new cuts constituted a major blow to library services that were highly valued by local communities.
‘NSW public libraries receive over 35 million visits every year and these appalling funding cuts will result in shorter opening hours and cuts to programs that the community love, like the popular children’s story times.’
‘We’ll see reductions in staffing, smaller collections and cuts to important outreach services like mobile libraries.’
‘Unfortunately, many of our libraries will be forced to wind back services used by community members who are already marginalised, including young families, older people, refugees and migrant communities, and people without access to technology.’
Ms Higginson highlighted her concern that the reduced resources would have on the community, particularly the disadvantaged.
‘The state government’s contribution to libraries has declined over decades, cost-shifting the responsibility onto financially struggling local government,’ she said.
‘When Lismore council tried to cut library funding in 2017 the community came out strongly in support of their libraries. In March this year Lismore City Council resolved to write to the state government in support of LGNSW’s campaign for increased library funding.’
‘Libraries are free, safe public places open to all. People rely on them for study, access to computers and internet, and helpful places linking them to social services.
‘Ask any grandparent: Google is no substitute for libraries staffed by friendly, caring and most of all, knowledgeable people who live in our community.’