Wollongong council backs library campaign

They are havens for learning, research and adventure but public libraries face an uncertain future if cash-strapped councils continue to bear the brunt of their operating costs.

Wollongong mayor Gordon Bradbery in the city library last year, reading with Jake and Toby Wachsmuth.

Wollongong mayor Gordon Bradbery in the city library last year, reading with Jake and Toby Wachsmuth.

At a council meeting on Monday night, councillors threw their support behind a NSW Public Library Associations (NSWPLA) campaign to increase state government funding for public libraries, in a bid to secure vital library services into the future.

The campaign could secure an additional $200,000 annually for Wollongong City libraries.

Regular patron and mother of four Sara Ryan said her family of avid readers would welcome any funding to secure the future of a much-loved resource.

"All of my kids just love to read - we go through books every week - so we usually visit the Helensburgh library regularly," Ms Ryan told the Mercury on a rare visit to Wollongong's central library.

"Oliver is book crazy - he'd read a novel a night if he had enough - so the library is a fantastic [resource] for us.

"We'd definitely support more funding for our libraries, we'd be lost without them if they weren't there."

More than 930,000 people visited Wollongong libraries in the 2012-13 financial year.

Aside from books and magazines, public libraries offer computer and internet access, literacy programs, family history research, seniors' and children's programs, and legal information.

The libraries are also known for their e-resources; they recorded 32,808 loans of music, e-books and e-audiobooks in 2012-13.

As of March, a total of 41,154 e-magazines had been loaned since December last year.

State government pitches in $500,000 of the $10 million funding Wollongong City libraries receive each year - less than half of the $1.2 million council expects to spend on library books in the coming financial year.

NSW councils are funding 93 per cent of the operational costs of public libraries, up from 77 per cent in 1980.

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