By Paul Hemsley
South Australian libraries will receive funds for public libraries from a signed agreement between the State Government and the Local Government Association (LGA).
Councils will be expected to invest more than $570 million over the decade, with more than $185 million in state subsidies secured over the agreement.
About 40 per cent of the state subsidy will go to councils as operating grants and another 40 per cent will be provided as materials grants.
The remaining 20 per cent will fund Public Library Services staff and activities, including contract management for book purchasing, inter-library loan systems, and cost of internet access.
Minister Assisting the Premier in the Arts John Hill said South Australia will continue to have the highest per capita state funding to councils for libraries.
“A key element of the agreement is investment in technology, including the development of the One Library Management System (OLMS),” Mr Hill said.
According to Mr Hill, the state’s 134 libraries will be connected over the next three years through the OLMS.
Local Government Association President Mayor Kym McHugh said South Australia has been able to plan reforms because of its five year agreements, but this ten year agreement gives a long-term view for “innovations and customer benefits”.
The OLMS will replace each council’s own LMS, which are all currently different, with the same LMS.
The Libraries Board of SA commissioned a business case for managing a process to replace all council LMS with a common system, and said such a system would be viable if it received support from councils representing more than 70 per cent of the state’s population.
Level of support exceeded 70 per cent, so the LGA will be managing the tender process for the OLMS with support from Public Library Services, expected to be finalised in November.
A Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA) spokesperson said the OLMS is expected to mean savings on procurement as it is being managed centrally rather than being duplicated by every council.
Savings are expected on price because 68 councils are buying in bulk, and there will be improvements in staff flexibility and training costs.
“A librarian can work two days in one council and two days in another without requiring training in different systems,” the spokesperson said.
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