Cash boost for local libraries

By Southern Riverina News

NSW Government funding to local libraries should increase this year, with the government pledging an additional $60 million for public libraries.

Berrigan Shire Councillor John Bruce has welcomed the increase, saying it will relieve the pressure on councils to fund services, but said it does not quite cover the 18 per cent cut to libraries experienced in recent years.

Before the funding increase, Berrigan Shire’s allocation from the government was $38,000 a year to service all its libraries and Murrumbidgee Council was to receive $36,000 to fund Jerilderie’s library and mobile services in Coleambally and Darlington Point.

While the actual increase for the councils has not yet been revealed, it is anticipated Berrigan Shire will now receive at least $50,000 a year.

Cr Bruce said it may help council to reallocate some of the $600,000 it sets aside in the annual budget to cover the shortfall in government funding.

‘‘The money will help a little bit, but it’s still far short of what we wanted. There’s been a downward spiral on library funding for quite a while,’’ he said.

‘‘Library services are pretty important to the community. I don’t know why the government decided to cut funding from their budget originally.

‘‘I suppose it’s about getting balance sheets back in the black and once you do that, they can start to spend a little bit more again.

‘‘There needs to be some sort of common sense.’’