Holroyd librarians fight funding cuts

Holroyd's librarians are urging library lovers to sign a petition to stop state government funding cuts — they say funding levels have already reached crisis point.

A Holroyd Council report states the proportion of public library funding from the state government has dropped from 23 per cent in 1980 to 7 per cent last year, with 93 per cent of all library funding now paid by local councils.

"Funding has been cut, and cut, and cut," said Merrylands librarian Charina Kofod.

"We're actually at a point where libraries are a bit worried about being able to fund special programs."

Ms Kofod said the pool of library development grants for which NSW libraries compete for each year had shrunk from about $3 million in 2005 to about $500,000.

"Libraries are such an integral part of the community, they need to grow."

Each year, Holroyd Council submits a library development grant application to compete for the limited funds and in the past 15 years has received about $550,000, including for Merrylands central library building, the library management system, several digitisation and oral history projects and new collections, including graphic novels and Persian resources.

"It's highly competitive to get a grant," Ms Kofod said. "Most of our collections — the community language collections like Hindi, Tamil, Persian and Gujarati — we established from State Library development grants.

"We always get calls for more English and computer classes so having the capacity to offer those would be helpful."

Ms Kofod and colleagues are calling on residents to sign the petition and become "library champions".

Merrylands librarian Charina Kofod and her colleagues at all Holroyd's library branches are calling on residents to become "library champions" by supporting a campaign to stop library funding cuts. Picture: Natalie Roberts.

Merrylands librarian Charina Kofod and her colleagues at all Holroyd's library branches are calling on residents to become "library champions" by supporting a campaign to stop library funding cuts. Picture: Natalie Roberts.

"Libraries are a very vital part of the community. Our attendance rates haven't gone down, even though we're now in the digital age. So really, why is our funding being cut? It should be at a level where we can support the community to the best of our abilities."

In April, Holroyd council voted to support the NSW Public Library Association campaign for increased state funding for public libraries and to place petitions in Holroyd’s three library branches and on the council website.

The council will also write to Arts Minister George Souris to call on the government to implement a 2012 Library Council of NSW submission for the reform of the state’s library funding model.

Local government support for the campaign has also come from Blacktown, Hawkesbury, Sutherland and Canterbury councils.

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