Friday, July 15, 2011

library funding cuts

report from the roundtable - 12 Jul

I raised the issue of state government cuts to recurrent public library funding as an urgent motion for council to consider.

I thought it was important that council was aware of the issue and considered our position as soon as possible rather than waiting for the next council meeting on the 26th July.

My motion read:
That council:
1) Write to local MPs and the Minister for Local Government requesting:
a) An explanation of why library funding for the Earstern Regional Libraries, both recurrent and indexed, has been reduced for the upcoming year.
b) Immediate reinstatement of indexed funding for libraries.

2) Develop an advocacy plan to lobby local MPs and the Minister to reinstate library funding.

The timing of this funding cut couldn't be worse, Yarra Ranges Council has already signed off on its budget and we only found out about the funding cuts when the CEO of Eastern Regional Libraries Corporation (of which I'm Deputy Chairperson of the board) received the funding agreeement.

For Yarra Ranges and our residents it means a cut of $27,466 in recurrent operational funding for our libraries. There is a real irony given that 2012 is the national year of reading, not a particularly good start. The state government is willing to provide funding to build libraries, supports the Premier's Reading Challenge but has no problem reducing library funding without even consulting with local government.

This funding reduction puts an even greater burden on ratepayers, at a time when we see the state government continually diminishing the amount it invests in library services, now down to a measly 19.2%.

What services will need to be cut, which book stocks can no longer be purchased, this is the reality of operational funding cuts to our libraries.

I have to ask is this state government truly committed to life long learning, literacy and community wellbeing. We have to ensure that at every opportunity we raise the issue with our state government MPs until this funding is reinstated.

I'm pleased to say the motion was supported by councillors unanimously.

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