Successive NSW Governments have let library funding slip. Library costs have been shifted to councils. New South Wales has the lowest level of state government contributions as a proportion of total library expenditure in Australia.
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Key indicators of public library use show that they are highly valued by their communities. Research has estimated that every dollar spent on public libraries in NSW delivers a community benefit of around $3.20.
Jan’s commitment to libraries comes from many years of being involved with a community struggling to ensure the delivery of that most important public facility for their home town.
The foundations of modern libraries draw on the community-building role of Schools of Arts and Mechanics’, Literary and other Institutes.
This grassroots movement envisioned freely accessible public libraries in local communities across NSW, and recognised the importance not only of access to books, but of a quality library building and services for the local community.
How much does the NSW Government contribute to libraries? And what have recent NSW Governments done about library funding?
In 2013, documents obtained under the Government Information (Public Access) or GIPA Act revealed lobbying and activity on funding reform options, which hasn’t resulted in action from the NSW Government.
The NSW Library Council presented funding recommendations to the Government in 2012. The Greens NSW Arts Policy includes a commitment to work towards increased funding and ensuring access to libraries and other public institutions – for all, and for free.
A commitment to the future of libraries will pay dividends. The Greens are working to ensure that local libraries are centres of community interaction, as well as information dissemination. The level of state funding for libraries must reflect the importance of this investment in our communities.