Wollondilly Council has teamed up with other councils and public libraries to urge the state government to double funding to ensure public libraries remained viable long term.
The government reduced funding in its recent budget.
Wollondilly Mayor Judith Hannan said our public libraries were the heart of our communities and valued places where people met, accessed knowledge and shared ideas.
“Providing high quality library services is a job we take very seriously, that’s why we’re proud to support Renew Our Libraries,” she said.
The council joined the NSW Public Libraries Association and Local Government NSW in launching a major grassroots push to deliver a sustainable funding model for public libraries.
Cr Hannan said the demand for local library services had increased, but state government funding had failed to keep up with demand.
“Every year local councils, like ours, contribute more than $314 million to support more than 360 libraries while the state government provide just $23.5 million in recurrent funding,” she said.
“This is an unfair burden for us to bear, particularly when local council budgets are already stretched.
“At around 7.8 per cent of total funding, the NSW contribution to libraries is the lowest in Australia, far behind Victoria (18 per cent) and Queensland (12 per cent).
“It’s time the state government paid its fair share.
“If the state government fails to increase funding, local library services could be affected - we may see shorter opening hours, fewer programs and services and reduced book and digital collections.
“We don’t want to have to shut the door on students, parents with children and older 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.”
Renew Our Libraries arose from the 2017 LGNSW Conference, where NSW councils unanimously resolved to advocate for improved 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.
Members of the community are being asked to get involved by signing a petition. For more information visit: www.renewourlibraries.com.au