Call for more library funding

o Library lovers: Glen Innes Library staff members Navanka Fletcher, Kate Cooper, Alex Sanderson, Kerry Byrne and Phil Hine are keen to see the balance of local and state government funding return to regional libraries to develop thriving community social spaces.Following a successful application for a portion of the Library Council of NSW’s $2 million Revitalising Regional Libraries grant allocation, the Glen Innes Library is moving toward the establishment of more social spaces, according to Library and Learning Centre manager Kerry Byrne.
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After securing $16,000 in Library Council of NSW grant funding, Ms Byrne said the local library is focused on developing a multi-purpose social facility, incorporating services aimed at reaching a broad cross-section of the community.

As funds are directed toward the purchase of new chairs and signage for the community facility, Ms Byrne said grant funding combined with regional libraries’ movement towards pooling resources and cooperative programs, have advanced the services on offer at community libraries across the region.

In a long term focus, Ms Byrnes said last week that the Glen Innes Library, in coordination with libraries across the state, will be moving heavily into the new state government lobbying initiative Library Lovers Vote Too.

With an eye to addressing underfunding from the state government, Ms Byrne and local library staff are joining with libraries across the state, urging residents and library lovers to sign the in-house petition to be presented to state government.

Specifically focusing on the inequity of funding between local and state governments, Ms Byrne said that from the state government Library Act 1939, the balance of state and local government library funding has moved from an equal 50:50 balance to local governments now funding 93 per cent of library advancements.

With the state government currently providing seven cents in every dollar of library funding, Ms Byrne said regional libraries are considerably underfunded with significant advancements in services becoming increasingly scarce.

In response to the campaign release, state government member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said that increased funding in the form of a number of public library infrastructure funds and allocations towards the development of new regional library services are currently under consideration for the 2014/15 state government budget.

Mr Marshall said that, while all levels of government are currently under budgetary pressure, he is hopeful of seeing funding relief for regional libraries and local governments in the new financial year.

While Mr Marshall said regional libraries offer an highly valuable service to their respective communities, the skew of state and local government funding has occured over the past 30 to 40 years, with the current state government bugetary consideration hopeful of addressing the funding inequity.

Mr Marshall said that while the regular funding allocation for public libraries has been carried forward to the new 2014/15 budget, there have been significant funds allocated to the development of regional libraries with $4 million to be allocated over the next four years to

regional library revitalisation and further $2 million to be rolled out for the development of regional library Wi-Fi hotspots.

As the 2014/15 state government budget is considered, Mr Marshall said that from his years in local government he is very aware of the pressure on the state’s public libraries and is hopeful of seeing relief in coming budgets.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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