Canberra, Thursday 9 March, 2017: The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has written to parties running in the WA election about their stance regarding investment in STEM and the State Library of WA.
Sue McKerracher, ALIA CEO, has asked political parties the following questions:
WA public libraries have an $8 million STEM proposal on the table to help people learn about new technologies and develop the skills they will need for jobs and study in the future. If the State Government were to match local council funding dollar-for-dollar WA’s 235 libraries could make everything from coding and robotic classes, 3D printers and music programs through to simple device charging available right across WA. At present, local government is supporting these programs wherever possible, but delivery is patchy in different areas of the state.
Public Libraries WA President Debra Summers has said, 'This is an opportunity for a partnership between State and local government to bring WA library technology programs up to the same standard enjoyed by communities in the Eastern states.'
We are also keen to make the case for investment in the State Library of WA: in the fabric of the building, in the services it offers and in increasing digital access to the information it holds – representing a major contribution to the state’s knowledge economy. The State Library has suffered successive cuts to its budget in recent years and these have resulted in the loss of 20% of staff since 2011. Can you advise us of your intentions for supporting an increase in funding for the State Library if you are returned to government in 2017?
WA Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren has written to ALIA and noted:
The Greens recognise the vital role libraries and other cultural institutions play in our society. We also value Public Participation and encourage groups and local organisations to be more involved in policy-making, project determination and funding allocation, so I am very pleased you have contacted me.
The Greens believe that access to artistic expression and cultural experience are fundamental aspects of our social well-being, and should be protected and promoted in Western Australia. State libraries and collecting institutions are essential to our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
As the world changes, and is changed by technology, libraries are well-placed to offer local communities access to the latest information and skills development.
The Greens advocate for a greater recognition of the role local government plays in the development of arts and culture, and the development of the WA public libraries STEM proposal supports this. We believe that all spheres of government are responsible for the provision of appropriate facilities and that the support from State Government is vital. This proposal also fits in with our Greens ambition to have an integrated approach to arts and cultural policies, and programs that encourage cross-portfolio awareness of their broad social and economic activity.
The State Library is the flagship repository of our written, social and recorded heritage, preserving these treasures for future generations, as well as being a centre for learning, enterprise and recreation. We support an increase to the funding and promotion of all public libraries as centres of community interactions across the state.
As the Greens spokesperson for the Arts I look forward to continuing to advocate and negotiate for a better deal for WA artists, arts organisations, and important institutions such as the SLWA.