Supporting local libraries

COUNCILLOR Sue Whelan has been a passionate advocate of local libraries for over 20 years, and on Wednesday night her fellow councillors supported her notice of motion calling upon the State Government to raise the bar on library funding.

Cr Whelan is a life member of Public Libraries New South Wales, and also sits on the executive committee as chair of the south-eastern zone. She said local government is increasingly "carrying the can" on library funding as the State has progressively cut funding over the last decade.

"I get very passionate about it, because it is one of the very important things that council provides, and we provide it to everybody regardless of their socio-economic status," Mrs Whelan told The Queanbeyan Age.

"I think of libraries as the old village green areas, where it's a really safe place for anyone to go, and you can go there for education or entertainment, or for social interaction.

"It's one of the few places where you can go in with a million dollars in your pocket or nothing in your pocket and you can still walk out with something. You just need to be a resident of the city and you can be a member of the library," she said.

Public Libraries NSW is a lobby group made up of members from local councils across the state. Ms Whelan said many councils would be passing similar notices of motion over the coming weeks to get the issue back on the NSW Government's agenda.

"Years ago, libraries were [funded] 50-50 between the state and local governments, but of course it's nothing like that [funding mix] now.

"I know it will never get back to 50-50 again, but we'd like to see it get up to at least 25-75," Cr Whelan said.

As a result of Wednesday night's motion, Queanbeyan City Council will write to local state member John Barilaro calling upon the Government to implement a new funding submission from the Library Council of NSW.

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