Port Macquarie-Hastings councillor questions impact of state budget's library funding cut

Community hub: Port Macquarie Library offers a wide range of services.
Community hub: Port Macquarie Library offers a wide range of services.

A councillor’s question will lead to information about library funding as a result of the state budget.

Cr Geoff Hawkins, in a question posed at the June council meeting, asked the general manager to indicate what the financial impact of the library funding cuts announced in the state budget would be to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council for 2018-2019.

The NSW Public Libraries Association was critical of an 18 per cent funding cut in the state budget to NSW libraries.

The association’s president, Cr Dallas Tout, said we needed an urgent increase in funding and a commitment to a sustainable funding model.

The launch of a statewide library funding campaign is imminent.

A spokesperson for Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said the NSW government remained committed to supporting public libraries across the state. 

There are no cuts in infrastructure funding for regional libraries. 

Infrastructure funding for regional libraries across NSW will be administered through the Regional Cultural Fund and will see an increase from $4 million in 2017-18 to $5 million in 2018-19.

Public libraries in regional NSW can apply for capital grants to build new infrastructure or improve existing infrastructure.

Some $23.5 million in public library subsidies, provided through the State Library of NSW, remain unchanged.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has libraries at Port Macquarie, Wauchope and Laurieton.

The much-loved libraries are community hubs.

Steph Elsum and her 16-month-old son have made the most of the library services.

“He [my son] gets excited when we walk in the door,” Ms Elsum said.

The library had a good range of services, she said, and the staff members were fabulous.

“It’s an introduction to reading and an introduction to books for kids which I think is really important,” Ms Elsum said.

The library attracts people of all ages.

Another library user said libraries were a vital part of a knowledgeable society and our library did an excellent job in that respect.

The regular library user said the library had a good holding overall, good computer facilities to access databases beyond the library’s holdings and very helpful staff.

Services at Port Macquarie Library stretch beyond books to include children’s activities, events, an Imaginarium with recording equipment and software, as well as a technology room.

The library embraced new technology early on and was one of the first services in the state to provide Wifi, eBooks and downloadable resources.