According to the Children’s Book Council of Australia survey (2010) submitted, sectors and schools vary markedly in school library funding. The average library budget for an Anglican school was $44,762; for independent schools $37,220; for Catholic schools, $20,732 and for government schools: $10,606. (36% of these were $5,000 or less. 3% were $1,000 or less.) In NT schools, most of which are remote, over half have budgets under $500 according to the 2008 Australian School Library Research Project.
Yet the issue of funding is sidelined in the School Library Inquiry Report. ASLA had suggested “The Ministers of Education establish a formula for funding the resource collection of school libraries Australia-wide based on a minimum per-capita amount and negotiate with Governments to commit to meeting a national funding agreement for school libraries on an annual basis” (ASLA sub). This has not happened.
Since the 2008 Council of Australian Governments’ intergovernmental agreement, federal funding has been handed over to states and territories “providing them with increased flexibility” (Report p. 12). Although school libraries in Australia virtually came into existence through federal funding for resources and training, they do not see this as their role now.
Yet grants could be given to BER libraries, for DER programs in libraries, for literacy through libraries. There are many ways the federal government can fund school libraries, as they have in the past. At the least a much need increase in public school funding would directly affect library budgets.
While reducing the cost of online database subscriptions is recommended, the question of funding is left to
The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood and Youth Affairs, discuss ways to enhance partnerships with state and territory and local levels of government to support school libraries and teacher librarians.
So it remains for us, concerned parents, citizens, educators and school library supporters to continue to press the state and federal governments for funding standards and adequate, dedicated funding.