The Premier, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian, and the Minister for the Arts, the Hon Don Harwin announced a significant new public library funding package on 24 August 2018, totalling $60M over the forward estimates to 2022/23.
This is the largest single commitment to increasing public library funding by the NSW Government since the Library Act was introduced in 1939, and the State Library is excited at the prospect of working with NSW councils to ensure that these funds significantly improve public libraries statewide.
The State Library is able to share some high level detail on the funding commitment, however please note that the finer details, including individual council payments, will be confirmed once the allocation model has been approved.
The Library is following the usual process to model the payments, which includes the preparation of funding options for consultation through the Library Council of NSW’s Public Libraries Consultative Committee, and the recommendation of a preferred model for the consideration of the Minister for the Arts.
The staging of the increase over the 4 years will be as follows:
Figures to be confirmed in the 2019/20 budget
Per capita subsidy
The per capita amount for subsidy will increase annually from the current $1.85 per head, and reach $2.85 per head by 2022/23.
|Year||New per capita amount|
This is a 54% increase in per capita subsidy payments by 2022/23 for all councils.
Subsidy Adjustment - additional funds
The Subsidy Adjustment funding pool will increase by over $2M by 2022/23. The Subsidy Adjustment will be used to ensure that smaller and needier communities receive meaningful increases to their annual payments.
This is important because per capita increases alone are not of great benefit to councils with small or falling populations, while growing, medium and large councils will benefit significantly from the per capita increases.
The existing model of subsidy adjustments will be modified to ensure that small councils receive a fair share of the new funding. The State Library consulted with stakeholders on model options at the Public Libraries Consultative Committee meetings of 4 December 2018 and 25 March 2019. The Library Council of NSW will note this consultation and recommend a model to the Minister for the Arts for 2019/20 to 2022/23 allocations.
Public Library Infrastructure Grants
A new grant program totalling $6M per annum will commence in 2019/20. This fund is considerably larger than the previous Public Library Infrastructure Fund, which provided $15M over 4 years. This additional funding will likely enable larger grants in comparison with former programs. Grant guideline options have been discussed with the Public Libraries Consultative Committee and a recommendation will be made to the Minister prior to 2019/20.
Service NSW Kiosks
$250,000 per annum is available over 4 years to fund the roll-out of Service NSW Kiosks to interested public libraries. This is an opt-in program and Service NSW is in consultation with public libraries and local councils.
Outback Letterbox Library
The Library Council of NSW provides funding to Broken Hill City Council to enable the Broken Hill City Library to operate the Outback Letterbox Library for residents of Central Darling Shire and Unincorporated Western NSW. The annual funding will be doubled to $200,000 to improve collections, delivery and promotion. The State Library will work with Broken Hill and Central Darling to review this service.
The State Library will share further details on the package as they become available.