PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
The New Year is the time to look forward, and evaluate the past.
2008 changes the funding for Ohio's public libraries. Since 1986, we have been funded by a percentage of the Ohio personal income tax.
Beginning this year, Ohio's public libraries will be funded by 2.2 percent of all state tax revenues.
With all the changes made to the state income tax, that was no longer a stable income to fund public libraries.
The Ohio Legislature reworked all three Local Government Funds last year, with the Governor signing the legislation into law.
Funding for Ohio's public libraries has been frozen and decreased since 2001 causing a hardship in times when costs are rising.
While we appreciate this change, its impact remains unknown, as estimates are difficult to make at this time.
Ohio appears to be headed for tough times with the "economic downtown" that has started in our economy, so a percentage of state revenues may not be an improvement for library funding.
So, that being the peek at the future; let's look at the past year.
Our library system has again passed 800,000 items checked out to the public of Jefferson County.
The number of checkouts no longer indicates the complete usage statistics for a library.
Today, people use the library from home. Some access online databases through the library, others checkout e-books onto their iPods.
It takes longer to assemble the statistics for library usage than in past years.
In 2007, the library system also expanded public parking at our Toronto, Adena, and Main Libraries by purchasing and clearing neighboring properties.
Available parking is essential for the public to use a facility, with a library being no exception.
Libraries still buy new books in this day of technology, and people still come to the library to checkout books.
In the 21st century, we also purchase online databases, DVDs, books on CD, and e-books.
The new era also funds libraries spending more and more resources on computers and the Internet.
Computers need constant upgrading, new equipment, and improved resources.
So, the Internet is free? Well, it may be free but "getting to the Internet" costs money and libraries are the place that provides the access to all.
What great tools libraries has for the new age of technology, and what assistance we can provide the public in this age of information overload.
Millions of hits on the Internet are worthless to someone unable to isolate the information they need and want.
In today's age, your public library remains one of the few facilities with real people, and physical locations ready to assist you.
Make one of your 2008 Resolutions to become reacquainted with your public library, and give us a visit - even if only online!