‘Sign on to save your library’

LEARNED FRIENDS: Kyrah Hush and Emily Hayes believe libraries are special places that need to be kept up to a high standard.

LEARNED FRIENDS: Kyrah Hush and Emily Hayes believe libraries are special places that need to be kept up to a high standard.

NOWRA Library has called on the community to join a state-wide campaign to curb a reduction in NSW government funding for public libraries.

So far more than 36,000 people have signed the petition, organised by the NSW Public Library Associations.

The group said expenditure on public libraries from the state decreased as a proportion of total public library expenditure from 23 per cent in 1980 to only seven per cent in 2013.

Emily Hayes from North Nowra and Kyrah Hush from Worrigee support Nowra Library.

They are both University of Wollongong students who use the library to study.

“I come here to study because there are fewer distractions than at home,” Ms Hayes said.

“It’s a good environment to study and it’s a great place to read and relax.”

Ms Hush sees libraries as a place to learn. 

“They are also cultural places, places where you can find your own things to learn about.” 

Kiama MP Gareth Ward said he had already presented the petition to NSW Parliament, which will trigger a debate on the issue.

Mr Ward said as a supporter of public libraries this was “a cause worth fighting for” but added lobbying had already been successful with the week’s state budget handing down an increase to public library funding of $15 million over the next four years.

He said in 2014-15 the Public Library Grants Scheme will total a record $27.5 million.

Representatives of the NSW Public Library Association welcomed this week’s announcement as recognition of the backlog of work identified in recent reviews.

Public Libraries NSW chairman Graham Smith said most libraries in NSW have had no significant renovation in the last 15 years.

“In a time of rapid technological change, it is essential that information centres such as libraries have the facilities to meet community needs,” Mr Smith said.

However, the association said it remained concerned the budget did not recognise the continuing impact on recurrent funding for public libraries, and the significant burden being carried by local government as the contribution from the state declines.

“Unless something is done about the recurrent funding formula within the next few months, there will be cuts to disability and geographic funding, which supports libraries in many suburbs, regional centres and rural areas,” Mr Smith said.

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