Friday, November 02, 2012

tomorrow's library coming?

Earlier this year I had the role of presenting to the Ministerial Advisory Council on Public Libraries as part of the Tomorrow's Library consultations. The MAC was set up as a response to the sudden news that the government was reducing funding for our libraries (which was later restored - see blog). The MAC undertook consultations across Victoria to learn what people wanted from their libraries, but the one proviso was that this part of the review was not about funding and it wasn't appropriate to mention it.

I started the presentation by setting the Yarra Ranges context. The dispersed nature of our population provides some unique challenges in providing library services across the municipality. I talked about the challenge of maintaining an adequate collection across 7 branch and 2 mobile libraries and the difficulty of funding this as current state government funding formulas do not recognise the additional pressures that are placed on interface councils like Yarra Ranges.

Current per capita funding for book stock in Yarra Ranges is $3.78 even though the baseline is $5.56 - of this 19.8% is from the state government, or .75cents per capita. It's pretty difficult to talk about library services without mentioning funding, it's such a critical part of the equation.

The state government is due to release the stage one report in November, let's hope there's proper recognition of the challenges we face so we can turn the discussion on how the state can adequately fund libraries into the future.

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