Ballina Area Librarian Kerrie Fairlie watches as a library user signs a petition calling for more State Government funding of p
Ballina Area Librarian Kerrie Fairlie watches as a library user signs a petition calling for more State Government funding of p

Local libraries send out SOS call

By MARY MANN mary.mann@northernstar.com.au WHAT is the use of a library if all the books in it are out-dated and there are no staff members to help you find what you're looking for?

Local library representatives, like Martin Field, fear this is what will happen on the Northern Rivers if the NSW Government doesn't 'get its act together' and increase funding levels.

Mr Field, director of Richmond-Tweed Regional Library, is urging locals to sign a petition calling for the Government to increase funding for the region's 12 branches and one mobile library.

The Lennox Head Residents' Association, as well as local councillors, have jumped on board in a bid to draw community attention to the 'dreadful' situation.

"Local councils are already looking at next year's budget, and indications are they can't make up the shortfall," Mr Field said. He says the Government used to contribute 24 per cent of library costs, but that contribution has dropped to 7.8 per cent after four consecutive years of funding cuts, including the latest cut of more than $1 million.

This left local councils to make up the other 93 per cent, he said. Other States cover at least 20 per cent of library operating costs.

Ballina Councillor Sharon Cadwallader, who along with Cr Alan Rich represents Ballina council on the Richmond-Tweed Regional Library committee, said it was a cost-shifting issue which was too much for local councils to bear.

"This is a huge issue, seven per cent is just outrageous. Why should NSW be victimised like this?" she said.

Protest letters can be sent to the Minister for the Arts, Frank Sartor, PO Box A226, Sydney South, NSW, 1235, or online at www.directory.nsw.gov.au/ministers.asp You can also sign a petition at local library branches.



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