State funding for public libraries has reached an unacceptably low level and should be boosted to reflect the growing demands of Sydney’s Inner West population, Greens MP, Jamie Parker, has said.
“Library costs are increasing every year, while Inner West communities are growing. Despite this, public library funding has remained static for years and is now unacceptably low,” said Mr Parker.
The State Government subsidy to local libraries has remained at $1.85 per capita for over a decade. In 1979/80, the NSW Government contributed 24 per cent of the funding for public libraries. By 2010/11, this share had dropped to less than 10 per cent.
“We know there is growing pressure on resources in Sydney’s Inner West. More than ever, libraries need to be equipped to educate and support the needs of children, as well as adults,” said Mr Parker.
The State Government’s contribution to local libraries is the lowest of all the states in Australia; it puts in just 7 cents out of every dollar into libraries, with the burden of funding falling on local councils, according to the NSW Public Library Associations.
Mr Parker said the Liberal government could remedy the situation in the upcoming state budget.
“The NSW Budget should reflect the importance that libraries have in our community. At the very least, the state subsidy to libraries should be indexed to the consumer price index,” he said.
“Public libraries are vital to the life of communities, and are crucial to encouraging an early love of books and reading – one of life’s pleasures,” he said.
Mr Parker urged community members to sign a petition for more public library funding which has been launched by the NSW Public Library Associations. The petition is available at public libraries.
NSW Public Library Associations – Community Funding Campaign:http://nswpla.org.au/nswpla-communityfunding.html