PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
This past week has been the annual observance of National Library Week.
Celebrated in April for the past 50 years, National Library Week focuses attention on the contributions of our nation's libraries to support use and support.
Statistics show that the number of visits to the nation's public libraries has increased by 61 percent in the past decade.
U.S. libraries were visited 2 billion times in the past year, serving the public as information centers.
Nearly all libraries now offer Internet access, yet a study in March revealed that only 69 percent of American households have Internet access.
With online resources available, it is surprising that libraries are circulating 28 percent more items from library collections.
People still read books, and use books in their information quest.
This past week, Library Legislative Day was also held in Ohio.
Librarians from across the state descended on Columbus to meet with legislators and the Governor's Office about Ohio's libraries.
The Ohio Legislature is preparing the state budget for the next two years, and changes are in store for library funding.
In 2006, a Task Force studied Ohio's funding of local governments, including cities, counties, townships, villages, and public libraries.
Their recommendations are included in Governor Strickland's budget proposal to the legislature.
The existing Library and Local Government Support Fund, which has been in place since 1986, would be modified to become the Local Library Fund.
Instead of receiving proceeds from the State Income Tax, the new Local Library Fund would receive a percentage of all state tax receipts to assure a more stable funding source.
The freeze on library funding, which has been in effect for several years, would be removed in 2008 allowing for the fund to have minor growth.
The proposed state budget has been described as the "tightest since 1965" by analysts, and there is little money for growth.
Libraries appreciate the effort of the Governor and legislators in addressing the issues of library funding.
Our library system was one of 15 libraries in Ohio to display at Library Legislative Day.
We highlighted our efforts for the "Ready to Read" Initiative, to address the early literacy needs of Ohio's youngest citizens.
In 1998, we became a Family Place Library and began offering programs to assist our youngest library users and their parents and caregivers.
These efforts have included our "Books Help Babies Bloom" and "Early Literacy Workshops."
Programs for children include "Play and Learn, Tot Time, and Babygarten" to incorporate skills for parents as well.
Public Libraries are truly part of Ohio's educational process.