Proposed library cuts criticised

June 8, 2024 BY

Return value: Proposed library cuts in Golden Plains Shire’s upcoming budget would likely see a reduction to delivering services like the Golden Plains Mobile Library, which visits nine towns in the region each week. Photo: FILE

GOLDEN Plains Shire’s proposal to cut fifteen thousand dollars in funding for the region’s library services has drawn criticism.

Slated in the municipality’s draft 2024/25 budget, the item would see library funding reduced from $500,000 to $485,000 compared to the 2023/2024 budget.

The cost cut would lead to decreased capacity for Bannockburn Library as well as the municipality’s mobile library facilities, which Maude resident Geoff Adsett said would be detrimental to a key service.

“It’s going to result in the reduction of services in quite a successful community facility

that appeals to a wide range of people,” he said.

“The cuts in the budget, although small, would mean a reduction in hours or a reduction in the delivery of the mobile library service in the shire. “It just seems such a small cut in such a large budget for no apparent reason as it’s a successful community organisation.”

Mr Adsett voiced his concerns via email to councillors as well as by submitting feedback on the matter while the draft budget was open for public exhibition.

A former employee with Geelong Regional Libraries, which is responsible for library facilities in the shire, he said the service expanded every year he was involved. “Every year they increase the range of services they offer and what’s offered to the community,” he said.

“I went to an event there recently that had 60, 70 people so they’re definitely attuned to what’s happening in the shire.

“Any cut means anything advanced is put on hold. It would mean any improvements would be negated while they digest that cut. I reckon they would close to make up the difference.”

It’s estimated nearly 42,000 people utilised the Bannockburn Library during the 2022/23 financial year and borrowed more than 67,000 items.

The draft 2024/25 budget notes an estimated operating surplus of $7.3 million, with an overall underlying surplus of $32,000.

Golden Plains Shire mayor Cr Brett Cunningham said the decision is down to current economic conditions.

“As part of Golden Plains Shire Council’s draft budget process, a comprehensive review has been undertaken across all service areas to identify cost savings, service level reductions and program deferrals,” he said.

“The investment and support to the Geelong Regional Library Corporation in the draft budget is $426,000 of the total library services cost allocation of $485,000, approximately 88 per cent.

“This is consistent with the 2023/24 budget allocation to total library services which was approximately 87 per cent.

“Council and the Geelong Regional Library Corporation are currently working through options for how library services will be delivered. Council will consider all submissions…before putting forward a final budget.”

The proposed library cuts saw resident 28 submissions during public exhibition. The municipality held a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the matter and other budget items.

The final document is to be considered for adoption at the June council meeting.