Libraries across NSW are calling for a doubling in State Government funding to ensure their long-term viability.

The NSW Public Libraries Association (NSWPLA) and Local Government NSW (LGNSW) have launched a major grassroots push to deliver a sustainable funding model after the NSW Government reduced funding in its recent Budget.

LGNSW President Cr Linda Scott said that library use was growing while funding had been declining.

“Public libraries have a valued role in our communities.’’

“They foster social inclusion, help bridge the digital divide, are important meeting places and focal points for people to access information and ideas.

“However, NSW Government funding has not kept up with demand and we need to ensure public libraries can stay viable.”

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).”

“In the 2018 Budget the NSW Government cut recurrent funding for regional and metropolitan libraries by five per cent, and locked metropolitan libraries out of much-needed infrastructure funding,” Cr Scott said.

“The NSW Government now contributes just $23.5 million a year to support more than 360 libraries across the state. This compares with a local government contribution of over $314 million a year.

“This is an unsustainable burden to place on local government, whose budgets are already stretched.”

NSWPLA President Cr Dallas Tout said that NSW public libraries were critical in supporting the Government’s own childhood literacy and education objectives and provided a major economic boost to the state.

“Each year NSW public libraries receive over 35 million visits. They support over 3,000 full time equivalent jobs and make a $330 million contribution to the NSW economy,” he said.

“That’s why the next NSW Government must urgently double its contribution to public libraries and create a sustainable funding model, so we can continue to provide the services the community needs and build the libraries of the future.

“We’re asking everyone who cares about their public library to sign the petition and get involved. We’ll be holding events across NSW, talking to supporters and contacting Members of Parliament.”