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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The New Year and Libraries

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, January 7, 2007

The New Year has arrived, and with 2007 comes another state budget cycle.


This promises to bring changes to Ohio's public libraries, as well as local governments because of a Task Force formed after the last state budget cycle.


In 2005, the State Budget included a provision for the appointment of the "Local Government and Library Revenue Distribution Task Force."


The Task Force would include State Representatives, State Senators, and appointees from organizations representing counties, cities, villages, townships, and public libraries.


Those local governments all receive funds from the three Local Government Funds within the state budget.


The Task Force reviewed the funding of the Local Government Funds, and made recommendations for change, given the major changes in state revenues that have negatively impacted the Funds.


Relating to the Library Fund, from 1933-1985 Ohio's public libraries was funded by the situs intangibles tax.


That tax was repealed, and items formerly taxed as intangibles were added to the state income tax in 1986.


The third Local Government Fund was established in 1986 to fund libraries, based on collections of the state income tax.


With the changes in the state income tax, and the freeze on the Fund since 2001, a new method for providing revenue to the Fund needed to be found.


The recommendations of the Task Force were recently provided to the Legislature, and we hope they will be used as the 2008-2009 State Budget is formulated.


Libraries and Local Governments have been adjusting to the reduced funding since 2001, and we hope that a solution can be found in the New Year.


Libraries are busier than ever before, in this new era of the Internet.


More things are checked out of our libraries than ever before.


20 million more items were checked out of Ohio's libraries last year, than in 2001.


With all of the online information, that would seem like an "odd" statistic, but online information promotes the use of traditional printed sources.


Of more significance is the fact that Ohio's libraries offer library patrons the ability to access numerous online resources with their library card, in addition to the library catalog.


OPLIN, the Ohio Public Library Information Network, offers countless online resources, and serves as the gateway to other resources purchased by local libraries.


Internet access is provided by all public libraries.


I had assumed that public Internet computers in libraries would decline as people gained access at home.


The reality is that our computers are used more than ever, and people come to the library to link to a wireless network with their own laptops.


Internet connections can be expensive, and computer upgrades to support home Internet service are beyond the reach of more and more people.


The library also offers "people," yes, real human beings who can help with your information searches.


The library has also become the last information desk in our society, as other federal, state, and local offices have closed and gone away.


The library is the place to obtain forms, get documents, and enter information online.


We look forward to 2007 and the solutions that the year will hopefully bring.