Record State funding to benefit local libraries

Bungendore library

Queanbeyan-Palerang Libraries are set to benefit from a record boost in funding, with the State Government delivering $36.5 million in funding to NSW public libraries in 2019/20.

NSW State Librarian John Vallance welcomed the significant increase announced as part of the 2019 NSW State Budget which will see a total of $60 million in additional Government funding going to public libraries over four years.

“Public libraries offer so much to the people of NSW including quality collections, comfortable and safe public spaces, high speed internet, as well as a variety of events and programs. All this together helps create a literate and informed society,” said Dr Vallance.

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) Library Coordinator, Elizabeth Bott said the funding increases will make a huge difference in helping our libraries better meet the growing demands of our readers and communities.

“Our libraries continue to be as popular as ever and we are continually looking at ways to enhance our services to better serve the community,” Ms Bott said.

QPRC Mayor Tim Overall thanked the NSW Government for the support while reminding the Queanbeyan community in particular that the local library was about to undergo a refurbishment using funding provided in 2017 that will deliver a modern library environment.

“From 2 to 14 September the Queanbeyan Library will close temporarily while we work to create a more welcoming and flexible space.

“We will be replacing library shelving, some of which is over 40 years old, with modern movable shelving; updating signage; reorganising collections in a genre-based system; replacing display boards with monitors for electronic displays; and replacing some of the furnishings.

“During the temporary closure, library services will be provided from the QPRC mobile library which will be located nearby and will allow library users to borrow and return items, use printing and photocopying facilities and access Wi-Fi,” Mayor Overall said.

The Minister for the Arts the Hon Don Harwin MLC said the new funding will provide increases to public library per capita subsidies.

“All councils will receive increases to their annual payments, enabling improvements to public library collections, opening hours and services based on local need,” said Minister Harwin.

QPRC Libraries have received an annual increase of around $30,000, making the annual subsidy over $200,000.

QPRC will also be eligible to apply for projects under the new funding package which includes a capital grants program of $24 million over four years enabling improvements to library buildings and IT systems.

The State Library will work closely with councils on library improvement projects as the funding is allocated.

“We are also very pleased that the Government has amended the Library Regulation to lock in the per capita increases, giving certainty for councils about per capita funding in future years,” said Dr Vallance.

In addition to the public library funding increase, the Budget allocates $500,000 per annum ($2 million over four years) to the State Library for Vision Australia to enable the provision of expanded services and a greater selection of audio and braille books to the 126,000 people who are blind or have low vision in NSW.

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