Guidelines to Section 12a

These guidelines have been developed by the Library Council of New South Wales to assist local authorities in interpreting the provisions of the Library Act 1939 in relation to Section 12a regional library arrangements

Library Act 1939 – Section 12A

The NSW Government has created additional flexibility in the operation of regional library services through the introduction of a new Section 12A into the Library Act 1939.

Section 12 of the Act enables councils to agree to provide library services regionally, that is across more than one council area. Such arrangements are termed "regional libraries". At present 70 councils (68 in country NSW) are party to s12 agreements for regional library services.

Prior to the amendment, councils entering into such arrangements needed to adopt an executive council model as detailed in Section 12(1) or (12)2 of the Act. This involved one council accepting the responsibility for the management and provision of the library (or an aspect of the library service) on behalf of the other council or councils. The other council or councils also needed to delegate their library management to the executive council.

Section 12 had generally operated well, but it was considered more restrictive than the Local Government Act 1993, given that councils are able to operate other types of services under alternative arrangements in a more cooperative way under that Act.

The new s12A enables councils that wish to operate regional library services using alternative arrangements to propose the arrangements that suit their situation.

Such proposals need to be approved by the Minister for the Arts with the agreement of the Minister for Local Government. This will ensure that alternative arrangements for regional libraries meet the Library Act and the Local Government Act requirements and Government policies.

Note: The existing executive models are still available under s12 (1) and (2), and do not require Ministerial approval.

A proposal for alternative arrangements under Section 12A is triggered by two or more councils. No council is required to enter into arrangements under section 12A.

Participating councils will need to propose the new arrangements that work best for them. Arrangements will need to be consistent with the Library Act and with the State’s policies for local government. The approval processes will ensure this.

Arrangements under section 12A may relate to libraries, library services, information services OR an aspect of libraries, library services or information services.

It is intended that the Library Council of NSW will advise on proposed alternative arrangements prior to consideration by the Minister for the Arts.

The key issues for the Library Council in advising the Minister will be ensuring any proposed alternative arrangements meet the requirements for public libraries under the Library Act and will result in a sustainable library service that meets the needs of library users.

For further information contact Cameron Morley, State Library of NSW, 9273 1483.