Councils currently provide around 80 per cent of the operational funding required to cover the daily running costs of libraries – from paying staff to opening the doors, purchasing new books and other resources, and providing internet access and computers for community use.
Historically, library funding was shared 50:50 between the State and local government.
However, funding by successive Victorian governments has failed to keep pace with the growth and expansion of services. Victorian ratepayers cannot continue to sustain this financial burden.
About Victorians libraries
- 2.2 million Victorians are members of public libraries
- We borrow 46 million items each year
- We visit libraries 30 million times a year
- We make 3.6 million bookings to use library computers and utilise 4.7 million Wi-Fi sessions
- 275 libraries and 35 mobile libraries operate across Victoria
- 8.2 million items are maintained in collections plus a further 700,000 digital resources
- 325 people out of every thousand attended a library program
- Councils fund approximately 80 per cent of library costs
- The Victorian Government contributes approximately 20 per cent of costs.
Libraries are a vital community asset. They provide free and equal access to services and programs that contribute to lifelong literacy and learning. Libraries help both children and adults with study, education, workforce participation, social connections and community wellbeing.
They offer formal meeting spaces and informal opportunities to connect with other people – whether it’s a warm place to read, attending a bilingual program, joining the chess club or using the computer. Libraries also provide mobile services to remote communities, the housebound and elderly people.
As cost of living pressures continue to rise, Victoria’s public libraries are offering an ever-expanding range of free activities, events and programs for communities to enjoy. There has been a steady increase in attendance at cultural, literacy and skill development programs run by Victoria’s public libraries.
Technology is also changing how people access and benefit from modern libraries, with Victorians increasingly using their library remotely, including nearly 15 million visits to library websites to renew or reserve loan items and to search online databases.
Local government is committed to the ongoing provision of high quality public library services that meet the growing and diverse needs of local communities.
Public libraries – a valuable community asset
Technology is accessible to everyone: wireless hotspots, free public access computers, e-readers, talking books, iPads and more.
Community hubs host a regular schedule of visiting authors, exhibitions, festivals, meetings, dance, training, consultation sessions and discussion groups.
Learning and literacy
Libraries offer a range of learning and literacy resources including: books and resources; regular activity programs such as book and homework clubs, reading groups, rhyme time, story time and bilingual story time; training sessions and courses for adults looking for work, retraining or returning to the workforce, and seniors who want to understand technology.
Connecting people within their community
Libraries are a warm, inviting place to go and meet others, participate in a special interest group, access multicultural materials and resources for people with print and other disabilities, and home delivery services for those who are housebound
Expert staff offer a wealth of free advice, support and information to help people find items, use computers, undertake research, access e-databases; as well as history experts and specialists who work with children and youth.
The MAV and councils want increased State Government funding that recognises the shared service responsibility of providing public libraries to Victorian communities, and to ensure services meet the needs of our growing population and the transition to a knowledge economy.
We seek specific commitments from the Victorian Government to:
- Index recurrent annual public library funding to Cost Price Index (CPI) for all councils, plus an additional allocation made for population growth
- Commit $20 million over four years to extend the Living Libraries capital program
- Support investment in collaborative approaches to library operations, such as the Library Management System, and
- A formal partnership agreement between State and local government to facilitate joint strategic planning for public libraries.
- Annual Australian public library statistics
- Creative Communities: The cultural benefits of Victoria's public libraries (PDF - 3.2MB)
- Dollars, sense and public libraries report 2012 (PDF - 3.23MB)
- Directory of Public Library Services in Victoria (PDF - 8.2MB)
- Public Libraries Victoria
- Victorians Love Libraries: Facebook page