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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.

Cuts at the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our library system will have experienced many changes this month, in response to the 31 percent cut in funding from the Public Library Fund.


Today is the final Sunday of operations of the Schiappa Branch Library.


I was there, Feb. 8, 1987, the first day that a public library in our county provided library services on a Sunday.


It became common practice for libraries to offer Sunday hours around the State of Ohio, but now even the Columbus Metropolitan Library system has closed all 20 of its branches on Sunday.


Next Wednesday will be the last time that the Toronto Branch Library will provide hours that day.


Earlier this month, hours were shortened at the Main Library, Adena Branch, and Brilliant Branch.


The Bookmobile service to county schools will end in September.


The saddest part of this budget adjustment was the layoff of 13 library staff, and retirement of 2 library staff.


The 31 percent cut is certainly better than the 50 percent cut that was proposed in the Conference Committee; but it remains a major reduction for our library system.


Now we need to proceed and continue to provide the best library service within the new budget that is available.


Since the library funding changes have been announced, we are pleased at the support we have received from so many people.


The donation of new books and DVDs has been appreciated, as well as donations from the public to simply help the library.


Whenever an agency adapts to a reduced budget, schedules and times of operation that were common and comfortable disappear.


Familiar faces that greeted you at the library are either gone or rearranged.


Many changes in addition to staff reductions are needed to meet the new budget.


The cost of an out-of-state library card will increase from $ 5 to $ 10 annually.


All of the library’s funds come from the Public Library Fund, which is part of the State of Ohio’s budget.


A cost of $ 3 is being placed on requests for library materials to be borrowed from outside our automation system.


Our system has 5.8 million items, but titles borrowed beyond those items require a transportation cost beyond the state contract, and we will no longer cover that cost from the library budget.


Overdue fines will be standardized to 10 cents per day per item, removing the “no fines” provision for children’s materials.


The library system’s budget will not gain large sums of money from these actions, but we will reimburse the budget for these costs.


In reading other library’s budgetary cuts from across the state, we are fortunate to be able to make the adjustments we have and continue to operate in this manner.


I was particularly sad to see Chillicothe/Ross County’s Northside Branch Library close completely due to the cuts.


They came and visited our Schiappa Branch in the 1990s and used it as a pattern for their Northside Branch.


In this time of economic strife, it is sad to see any library close completely.