ALMOST 2,000 locals have signed a petition to highlight the funding crisis facing libraries across NSW.
Coffs Harbour City Library manager Enzo Accadia said the NSW Public Libraries Associations expect a total of 20,000 signatures will be collected state-wide by the end of May.
"Although this week is Library Week, it's hard to see what there is to celebrate when you consider that State Government expenditure on public libraries has decreased as a proportion of total public library expenditure from 23% in 1980 to 7% in 2013," Mr Accadia said.
"It's a statistic that is made more stark when you consider that more than 338,000 people visited Council's libraries in Coffs Harbour, Toormina and Woolgoolga in 2013 - an increase of 7.4% cent on 2012.
"If we actually had an increase in state funding for public libraries, it would enable Coffs Harbour City Library to build on things like our popular programs for children, such as Storytime, our special holiday activities and the Summer Reading Club.
"In addition we could further develop our digital literacy programs such as Internet for Beginners, the eLending/eReader sessions and the very successful Yourtutor online tutoring for school students. Plus it would help us improve the library's general collections for everyone."
Local communities and passionate supporters of public libraries have rallied to the cause in both metropolitan and country areas.
The majority of local councils throughout the state - including Coffs Harbour City Council - have also formally endorsed the campaign in an effort to address the overall decrease in state funding for public libraries.
"The petitions will be tabled in the NSW Parliament in coming weeks, but more signatures are required to demonstrate to the government how important public libraries are to local communities," Mr Accadia said.