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NSW govt cuts public library funding by 18% in 2018-19 state budget

The NSW state budget has cut funding to public libraries by 18%, according to peak body Local Government NSW (LGNSW).

The 2018-19 NSW state budget allocated $23.5 million to libraries, down from $28.8m in 2017-18—a reduction of $5.3 million or 18%.

LGNSW said the 2018-19 budget had swapped critical infrastructure funding ‘for a grab-bag of short-term sweeteners’, with LGNSW president Linda Scott warning that the NSW state budget sees library funding ‘plummeting to record low levels’.

NSW Public Libraries Association (NSW PLA) president Dallas Tout told the Land that local governments already foot 95.2% of the cost of public library services, a figure that would likely have to increase after the government announced the cutback.

‘The annual grants program (previously known as Library Development Grants and over the past four years, Public Library Infrastructure Grants) administered by the State Library of NSW, has been completely wiped out, accounting for $4 million of the funding reduction,’ Tout told the Echo.

However, Nationals member Ben Franklin said that $5 million has been committed to fund public library infrastructure through the Regional Cultural Fund.

In response, Tout said the infrastructure grants will only be open to regional applicants under the proposed budget, adding, ‘There’s no confirmation that the $5m is new funding’.

‘We are still waiting for clarification that this is a correct assumption. Other public organisations, for example museums, appear to have to now bid out of the same fund,’ said Tout.

According to a report commissioned by Local Government Victoria in 2017, the NSW government spends $3.76 per capita on public libraries, compared to $7.94 in Victoria and $6.07 in Queensland.

 

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Category: Library news