The cost of operating Warrnambool's library is edging closer to $1 million a year, rising 70 per cent since 2013.
Increasing costs and a drop in popularity among users has prompted one city councillor to question the proposed new library.
The city council's annual report shows it spent $967,000 to run the library last financial year - $7000 more than it had budgeted for - and a massive increase on the $562,000 it cost six years ago.
Statistics in the annual report also show that the percentage of people using the library has fallen from 15.83 per cent in 2016 to 13.77 per cent this year, while the cost to the council of each visit has increased from $6.77 to $8.13 over four years.
The library is set to be replaced in mid-2022 by a new $20.3 million facility on the nearby South West TAFE site.
The Department of Education and Training contributed $16.3 million, TAFE $830,000 and the council will tip in $3.12 million.
A ratepayer raised concerns in August the running costs could balloon to as much as $1.5 million when the new facility was built.
Cr Kylie Gaston said that setting a budget for the library was challenging, particularly with rate capping.
"Even though we've had our Essential Services Commission ruling, the other municipalities in the (library) corporation haven't, so we're all trying to keep our costs down as much as possible," she said.
"They are expensive things to run, particularly as they are a free service, but we also understand how valued they are. Libraries are there for everyone.
"Every year salaries go up and we're trying to replenish the book collection, IT demands, e-book demands, It's certainly a very challenging budgetary environment."
Cr Gaston said the design of the new library would not only make it a wonderful place, but important in decreasing operational costs.
Cr Peter Hulin questioned the usefulness of spending so much money on the library. "They don't even call it a library. What is it? A joint learning centre or something? God help me. It's a bloody utopia is what it is," he said. "Once again, the world is moving past us with technology and we seem to have a problem accepting that fact. The world has moved on from only having one option of reading a book.
"Now a lot of the stuff is done out of tablets. I don't know how much of that we've taken into account."
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