Today's libraries "poorly funded"

Evolving service: Kiersten Fishburn and library staff say state government funding of libraries is not keeping up with their increased needs and they have called on residents to sign a petition calling for a financial boost. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

Evolving service: Kiersten Fishburn and library staff say state government funding of libraries is not keeping up with their increased needs and they have called on residents to sign a petition calling for a financial boost. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

LIVERPOOL'S libraries have changed and are now more like "community living rooms", but the state government's funding of them isn't keeping up with the times.

Kiersten Fishburn, Liverpool Council's group manager for community and culture, who manages the library services across the local government area, said the level of funding does not reflect the contemporary library experience.

"Libraries aren't just about lending books anymore, we run exhibitions, provide community spaces and in Liverpool one of our most important roles is providing access to the internet," Ms Fishburn said.

"But state government funding has declined over time and local government can't afford to pay for these services on its own."

The council has joined a statewide petition campaign to call on the state government to increase funding rates.

"More than 30,000 people have already signed the petition across the state."

She said more than one million people visited the council's six libraries last year.

"We also ran more than 850 programs and lent more than three quarters of a million items to the community."

Data released by Liverpool Council shows that expenditure on state public libraries had decreased as a proportion of total public library expenditure from 23 per cent in the 1980s to 7 per cent in 2013.

Liverpool mayor Ned Mannoun said it was necessary that the petition received as many signatures as possible so that the library could send a message to the state government.

"Libraries bring people together, facilitate learning, connect us with information and ideas and provide a wonderful source of recreation," Cr Mannoun said. "They have evolved to become vibrant hubs."

The petition can be signed at council's libraries, child care centres and the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

NSW Arts Minister Troy Grant said the government will increase public library funding in the 2014-15 state budget with an injection of $14.96 million over four years.

"The Public Library Infrastructure Grants will commence at $2.99 million in 2014-15, increasing to $3.99 million from 2015-16 to 2017-18."

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