PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
With the state budget crisis and its potential impact on library funding still under discussion, area librarians decided to meet and share information.
The libraries of Belmont, Jefferson, and Harrison Counties have always shared a spirit of cooperation.
For many years, we were all part of the SOLO Regional Library System, a cooperative of libraries spanning Marietta to Steubenville to Newark.
Unfortunately, that library cooperative closed and went away in 2006, also due to budget limitations.
Our recent meeting of area libraries went well; we shared information about the impact of a 50 percent cut in funding on each library.
We discussed all of the options that could be used to address the situation, and what everyone has done so far, with our budgets still not known for the next two year state budget cycle.
Since 2001, libraries have been experiencing cuts and freezes in the Public Library Fund, so many small budget reductions have already been done.
We are already experiencing a 20 percent cut for 2009 based entirely on reduced revenues coming into the Fund.
All of this when libraries are seeing a 10-25 percent increase in usage from the pressures of the economy on people needing to use their library.
Frustrations expressed at our meeting included what to do with building closings if they are needed, and the larger cuts that will need to extend to staff.
If and when we are forced to close any of our libraries, what do we do with the building?
Even a closed building will require a budget for basic maintenance.
This cut is proposed as a “temporary diversion” so the closed buildings could reopen when the “diversion” ends.
And if staffing needs to be reduced, we will have to pay unemployment compensation for the staff not working, as libraries are pay-as-you-go in the system; which increases the impact of the cut.
Our meeting turned to a positive result of all of the library funding cut news.
More people have discovered their public library with this media discussion of library funding.
Sort of odd, the library is being promoted as a result of talk of a library cut.
The libraries of Belmont, Jefferson, and Harrison Counties also discussed the fact that we are all connected online with our database catalog of collections.
We already share our collections with each other and our customers
We all have delivery service among our libraries to move requested items.
We share programming materials, posters, and whatever we can share with each other.
The librarians of all of the locations even talk in “library lingo” based on computer codes, STE (Main Library-Steubenville) talks to PPL (Puskarich Library – Cadiz).
And it’s all for you, the users of those public libraries of the three counties of Eastern Ohio.
I hope the state budget crisis is resolved soon, and we can return our energies to the service to the public.