Maitland’s four public libraries are the lifeblood of this city.
They offer books, fiction and non-fiction, audio books, CDs, DVDs, magazines and newspapers – all for free. They offer sanctuary for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and they offer desks and quiet areas for people to do all types of research.
Our libraries also offer modern technology through computers with access to the internet and you can download any of the books with your phone or electronic reader. And they bring top authors to our city through the Look Who’s Talking events. The list goes on. Our libraries welcome people of all ages and services and entertainment for our younger generations are outstanding, all assisted by our staff who are among the most friendly and competent.
So why is it that Maitland City has not thrown its weight behind a state-wide campaign to help increase funding for our libraries?
This Renew Our Libraries campaign is non-political. It is led by the NSW Public Libraries Association and Local Government NSW, calling on the state government to reverse funding cuts. To see this campaign not supported by own our council appears to downplay the role that our libraries have as a community hub.
It is noted than as the next state election approaches, both the major parties have pledged $60 million towards more funding for libraries. At present, the state provides 7.8 per cent of library funding (used to be 50 per cent) with councils supplying the remainder. Even if these election promises are fulfilled, the state government share of funding only rises to about 12 per cent, which, while welcome, is not commensurate with the value of libraries to the community.
We are members of the Friends of Maitland Library. But we do not speak on behalf of the Friends, we speak as individuals who have worked tirelessly over a joint total of more than 30 years to support our libraries in Maitland. That’s why we are bitterly disappointed over the negative stance over funding by some Maitland councillors. This appeal for an increase in public libraries funding was deliberately non-political, yet both Maitland council’s Liberal team and the Penfold team voted down a Mayoral Minute to support the campaign.
We ask that those Maitland residents who believe in supporting and seeing our libraries grow, to write to your local councillor, send an email, or phone them to show your anger at not supporting a non-political campaign to help boost funding.
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