The NSW Government has recently announced it will pour $60 million into its public libraries.
The funding will mean more than 370 public libraries across NSW benefiting from the proposed $60m investment.
However, the announcement has come under harsh criticism after the state government slashed library funding by 18% – over $5 million in cuts – in the 2018 budget.
At its Ordinary Meeting held Tuesday July 24 this year, Griffith City Council (GCC) resolved a motion addressing the ‘need for additional funding from the NSW State Government’ for public libraries.
Library Manager Karen Tagliapietra said since the GCC resolved this motion, Griffith City Library “has been encouraging the community to support the ‘Renew Our Libraries’ campaign and sign the petition”.
“Thanks to everyone's support, on Friday the NSW Government announced an increase in public library funding, reversing their recent decision to cut funding this financial year,” Ms Tagliapietra said.
Ms Tagliapietra said while she and Griffith City Library welcome this latest news, she is eager to see further details of the proposed funding, and to ensure “this pre-election commitment is converted to real funding”.
"Our library is more than just books, it is a vital part of our social infrastructure,” she said.
Wagga Wagga councillor and president of the NSW Public Libraries Association Dallas Tout said it was due to campaigns like ‘Renew Our Libraries’ which have led to such an outcome.
“The government has realised our libraries are well and truly supported across the board,” Cr Tout said.
And, while he said it was “really quite heartening to see the increase”, he has acknowledged the proposed funding as simply that: proposed.
“It is proposed funding, it is not money and not intended to start until July 1 next year.”
Cr Tout said it is important to discuss the finer details with the Minister for the Arts Don Harwin to “ensure he is hitting the target areas” with where the funding is being directed – whether that be physical and digital resources, staffing, or infrastructure.
And further, that each library is receiving their fair share of the funding.
“You have to have a mix between ensuring there is an equitable spread between growth areas and areas that are growing and areas who have a need,” he said.
Our library is more than just books, it is a vital part of our social infrastructure.Library Manager Karen Tagliapietra
Most importantly, Cr Tout stressed the importance of ‘Renew Our Libraries’ working cohesively with government.
“We want to work with whoever is in government, so there is a model for 10 or 15 years and it can’t be played with so we don’t reach this crisis point again ever.”
Ms Tagliapietra echoed Cr Tout’s words, stating a desire to see a “sustainable future funding model” from the state government.
“We need to ensure that libraries have the resources they need to provide the services our communities deserve,” she said.
“Griffith City Council is passionate about delivering a Library service that supports the values of inclusion and life long learning. Increased funding would enable the Library to expand on current services and programs such as Rhyme Time, Conversation Cafe and Job Readiness classes; to ensure our students have access to the same collections, programs and technologies as their metropolitan counterparts; and, to grow our outreach services to the aged and those with disabilities.”