While business is booming at Maitland Library, funding support from the state government is dwindling and it has Mayor Loretta Baker up in arms.
In a mayoral minute at Tuesday night’s council meeting, Cr Baker will ask councillors to support the NSW Public Libraries Association and Local Government NSW in a campaign to lobby the State Government for more money.
“Library loans have increased by 33.14% over the past 10 years, almost 10% higher than the increase in Maitland’s population which has grown by 24.7% over the same period,” Cr Baker said.
Council has invested significantly in library services over the past decade spending about $3.4 million. It also invested around $1.8 million annually, supporting 250,000 library visits and around 500,000 loans annually. “This investment has also contributed to the provision of online digital collections and a diverse range of programs attracting over 11,000 participants each year,” Cr Baker said. “Participation in library programs has increased by almost 125% over the same period, with almost 20,000 people participating during the last 12 months.
“Funds from State Government have gradually declined. In 2015/16, State funding for Public libraries covered only 7.5% of the total costs of operating the 368 libraries in NSW,” Cr Baker said. “The level of State Government funding for libraries has reached crisis point. This is an historic issue ignored by successive governments.”
Cr Baker said this is not a party-political issue with every government since 1980 sharing responsibility. “Nevertheless the Opposition released its Library Funding Policy in March, undertaking to increase funding to all suburban and regional public libraries by $50 million in the first term of government.”