Jo Haylen MP has today welcomed Labor's announcement that it will increase overall funding to NSW public libraries by $50 million.
This will include a $25 million Public Library Infrastructure Fund and a doubling of the per capita funding subsidy from $1.85 to $3.70 – in the first term of government.
Currently, NSW has the lowest per capita investment by a State government in libraries in Australia. Tasmania and South Australia made the highest contributions.
In 2016-17, the total local government expenditure on public libraries was $335.1 million, and the total state government expenditure was $28.3 million.
NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley said the funding would help the State’s 368 public libraries to upgrade facilities, purchase equipment and “foster a love of books and learning” amongst the next generation of Australians.
Under the Liberal-National State Government, funding to libraries was only increased by $2.1 million over a two year period.
Mr Foley said Labor had different priorities to the Liberals and Nationals: Labor supports schools, hospitals and libraries before Sydney stadiums.
This is about providing children with the best opportunity to explore and develop a love of reading and learning.
The State Library of NSW administers funding to NSW Public Libraries on an annual basis. There were 34.8 million physical visits to NSW public libraries in 2015-16, and 11 million virtual visits to public library websites.
Quotes attributable to Jo Haylen, Member for Summer Hill:
“Libraries are the beating heart of our community, providing a place for residents to gather, read and learn.
"They effectively serve as community centres, and are a living room away from home for elderly residents, kids and new parents and new arrivals to Australia. For the homeless, they are often the only place to connect with the wider world and have access to services and information.
"We don't agree with this Government that libraries should be left to wither on the vine. We'll always put community infrastructure before stadiums."
Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley:
“The Berejiklian Government has the wrong priorities. Labor prefers to invest in schools, hospitals and libraries.
“Many of us started our lifelong journey of education at the local library.
“NSW has the dubious distinction of the lowest per capita investment in libraries. Local Government is doing more than its fair share and it is time the State Government contributed its fair share.”