Council calls for sustainable library funding
Hawkesbury City Council has joined other local governments and public libraries in a united effort across NSW to call for a doubling in State Government funding to resolve a shortfall that threatens the long-term viability of local public libraries.
The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett knows that public libraries are the heart of our communities.
“Our public libraries are valued places where people meet, access knowledge and share ideas,” the Mayor said.
“Providing high quality library services is a job we take very seriously, that why we’re proud to support the Renew Our Libraries funding campaign.”
In 2017-2018 Hawkesbury Library Service saw 186,924 people walk through its doors. Hawkesbury City Council operates Hawkesbury Central Library in Windsor and Richmond Branch Library in Richmond. Additionally, Council operates six book depots and delivers to nursing homes and retirement villages throughout the Local Government Area.
Staff loaned 242,565 library items, while a total of 835 programs and events were run, with 9,769 children, young people, adults and seniors attending.
Hawkesbury’s Library Coordinator, Joanne Russo said libraries are about “more than just books”.
“Libraries are valuable centres of information for the entire community and a vital part of our social infrastructure,” Ms Russo said.
“Libraries provide literacy support for young children and they bridge the digital divide.
”Libraries also serve as a meeting place which brings people together from all walks of life.”
Following the NSW Government’s 2018 State Budget announcement of reduced funding for libraries,
Hawkesbury City Council joined the NSW Public Libraries Association (NSWPLA) and Local Government NSW in launching a major grassroots push to deliver a sustainable funding model.
Councillor Lyons-Buckett said that while the demand for local library services had increased, State Government funding had failed to keep up with demand.
“In NSW, every year local councils like ours contribute over $314 million to support over 360 libraries, while the NSW Government provides just $23.5 million in recurrent funding,” the Mayor said.
“This is an unfair burden for the community to bear, particularly when local council budgets are already stretched.
“At around 7.8% of total funding, the NSW contribution to libraries is the lowest in Australia, far behind Victoria with 18% and Queensland with 12%,” she said.
“It’s time the State Government paid its fair share.”
The Mayor added that if the NSW Government funding failed to increase, local library services could be affected.
“If we don’t address this funding shortfall, we may see shorter opening hours, fewer programs and services and reduced book and digital collections,” Councillor Lyons-Buckett said.
“We don’t want to have to shut the door on students, parents with children and senior library users because we don’t have the money to keep the lights on.”
“That’s why we are calling on all political parties to urgently address this funding crisis in NSW public libraries by doubling recurrent funding and creating a sustainable funding model.”
“If you care about your local library, we’re asking every member of the community to get involved by signing the online petition.”
The petition is available at www.renewourlibraries.com.au
NSW councils unanimously resolved at the 2017 Local Government NSW Conference to advocate for improved NSW Government funding to enable public libraries to meet the growing needs of local communities and to raise public awareness of the multiple roles public libraries play in supporting the educational, social, cultural and economic outcomes in local communities.
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