PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
For the first time in the 110 year history of our library system, we are asking the voters of Jefferson County to consider an operating levy for the support of our libraries.
The Library Board has studied and reviewed the operations of our libraries before making this decision.
In June 2009, Ohio’s libraries were handed a budget that cut the Public Library Fund by 50 percent.
The compromise was a 31 percent cut, effective immediately in the middle of 2009.
That cut was on top of a seven year decline in the Public Library Fund, brought on by a freeze imposed by the State of Ohio, in addition to reductions.
Every item in the budget was reviewed to determine how the cut could be accommodated.
With a combination of reductions accomplished with staff layoffs, retirements, and reduced hours, the library began September 2009 with a revamped budget.
The decision was made to place a 1 mill – 5 year operating levy on the Nov 2010 ballot.
The levy will only return the library to its 2008 existence.
The 1 mill levy will cost the average taxpayer of Jefferson County, the price of a new book, or approximately $ 30.00 per year.
In Ohio, library levies are placed on the ballot by the agency responsible for the service area of the library, which in our case is the Jefferson County Commissioners.
We thank Commissioners for allowing the citizens of the county to decide the future of their public library system this November.
We also thank the many people who have actively donated new books and DVDs, as well as people who have donated their time and money to aid the library.
Despite the best efforts, filling a million dollar gap in the library budget can’t be accomplished with these efforts alone.
The number of library staff has dropped from 79 in 2001 to the 57 staff we have today.
Library usage has doubled in the past 25 years, by a third just in the past decade.
There are over 33,000 active library cards users in our library system.
Our library system is part of a 74 library network, allowing the borrowing of the 6 million items all across the state.
Today, the library is providing the public with an information center, from the traditional book to DVDs and CDs, and online databases and e-books.
From the library built with Andrew Carnegie’s funds, to the website to with digitized local history; to computer training classes, today’s public libraries are a combination of both traditional and e-resources.
In our society today, public libraries are becoming one of the few remaining agencies with real people helping the public.
Internet accessibility through computers and wireless provide the public with access to online
services to improve their lives.
Over the next five months, we will endeavor to inform you about the need for this levy, by letting you know three things:
---what is your public library system
---why your library system is asking for a levy
---what we will do with the funds from that levy.