Tales of intrigue and skulduggery, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure, or tales of woe are usually found on bookshelves in your local library. What they fail to tell you is that there is a real tale of woe, with intrigue and skulduggery happening within LibraryLand itself in the state of Victoria, a land far, far away from other evil happenings in England and the United States.*
The bogeyman called the GFC has laid waste upon the fertile lands of English and American libraries, cutting swathes of money from services, staffing and book budgets, with many library branches capitulating and closing.
In the Garden State of Victoria, public libraries had weathered the global financial risis, occasionally battered by the porn in libraries chestnut or the moan why do we need libraries when you have Google?
Until…the bogeyman arose this time in the form of the Previous Government’s Financial Mismanagement (aka PGFM), which was the reason that the current Coalition State Government justified its reduction in recurrent funding to public libraries.
This reduction will mean that the State Government will now fund 19.2% of the recurrent costs of public libraries, as opposed to 19.9% which it declared as miserable’ in the Liberal 2006 Position Statement on Victorian Public Libraries. The same Position Statement also promised to boost funding to public libraries.
With council budgets having already been approved before the cut was announced, it has left many councils and libraries forced to cut services, opening hours and book budgets in order to overcome the shortfall.
People are rallying to the libraries’ cause. The local press are awash with articles and editorial commentary on the value of public libraries. Online petitions are being circulated, people are being urged to write to their local member to protest the decision and the peak Australian library body ALIA and the Public Libraries Victoria Network (PLVN) have issued a joint media release calling for the restoration of funding. Perhaps what is needed is a celebrity to appear as a knight in shining armour…
*I did mention romance at the start. Well, I did marry a librarian…