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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.

Library Audit

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, September 12, 2010

Our library system, as a governmental unit of the State of Ohio, is subject to a financial audit performed by the State Auditor of Ohio, performed every two years.


On Aug 24, our audit for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 was released, and I am pleased to report that everything was found to be “in order” and “balanced.”


Much of the credit for our excellent audits goes to our Fiscal Officer, Nikki Magary.


She has served in that position for 27 years, even back to the days that she was called the “Clerk/Treasurer,” a term recently retired by the State of Ohio.


The Library Board understands its responsibility to the public as a government agency, to provide solid fiscal management for the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.


Recommendations from the State Auditor are enacted quickly.  This audit suggested added procedures for employee timesheets, and the change in procedures for accounting for our Digital Shoebox project.


Several checks and balances exist within the library system; including having different people audit and deposit daily receipts, different people alternate with payroll, and balancing daily receipts against computer entries.


In 2008, the library system began accepting “plastic payments” which are credited and transferred directly into the library’s banking account.


The library system has started the process of converting our financial system to UAN, the state system that will bring us into compliance with the GAAP, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which are being adopted by Ohio’s 251 public library districts.


Audits over the past decade have monitored the continuing decline of the Public Library Fund, and our library’s practices to adjust the budget to that decline.


This audit recorded the $ 600,000 drop in revenue during the last half of 2009, due in part to the cut in the Public Library Fund, a cut that doubled with the full receipts of 2010.


The final note of the audit is the fact that the library system has a 1 mill, 5 year levy on the Nov. 2010 ballot to address some of those losses.


To save costs, much of the library system’s accounting has been automated for many years, and all payrolls are direct deposit.


This is quite a comparison to the early days of the Carnegie Library, where huge ledgers and quill pens were the method of bookkeeping.


The bookkeeper in 1903 recorded that a truck had to be hired to bring the semi-annual barrels of new books from the Pennsylvania Railroad Station at 6th and Market Streets to the library at a charge of $ 2.00


A barrel of books would cost between $ 40 and $ 200 and were shipped directly from the publishers in New York City to Steubenville on the train.


Utility bills for the library were paid to the local Traction (streetcar) company in the early days, as they were the producers of electricity.


The bookkeeper spilled some of the bottle of ink on an early ledger sheet, and tried in vain to clean it with something.  The blob remained a part of history.


Even in those days, the library was audited, and every couple of years, the auditor would write, “Audited to here” on a ledger page.  No details, just the notation of where auditing ended.