PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
2011 marked the first year of the Library Levy which was approved by county voters in Nov. 2010 to support the library system.
The purpose of the 1 mill levy is to replace funds cut from the Public Library Fund in the state budget process.
Starting in 2001, the state began to reduce the Public Library Fund through small cuts and freezing the account; with the big cut made in 2009.
A total of 31 percent of the fund was lost for public library funding.
With the approval of the levy, we began the restoration of library hours in May as funds from the levy became available.
Staff was returned from layoff, allowing hours at the Toronto, Schiappa, Brilliant, and Adena Branches to be restored.
The Main Library, Tiltonsville and Dillonvale Branches had staff hours restored.
Today, we have 65 employees operating our 7 buildings around the county.
The library system began purchasing new books, DVDs, CDs, and eBooks shortly after the first of 2011, and by year’s end we had added almost 10,000 new items to the collections.
The campaign for the passage of the levy in 2010 was the largest single promotional effort that the library system has ever undertaken, and a result of that effort is that more people than ever are using our libraries.
In 2011, we had more than 750 people donate materials to the library system for use in the various collections around the county. That equals several thousand new books and audio-visuals in our collections that were donated by the public.
More new library cards were issued in 2011, so many that an emergency order for library cards had to be made during the summer.
The Bill and Melinda Gates grant and the library’s operating budget together replaced most of the public computers in the library system. In 2011, we replaced almost all of our printing, faxing, and scanning capabilities linking computer systems directly to these networks.
A grant from the J.C. Williams Trust will allow us to increase computer capacity and do more training for the public in the future.
Taking advantage of the AEP Gridsmart Program, we have upgraded lighting fixtures in all of our buildings to maintain electrical costs and receive new lighting equipment.
The library’s new Bookmobile will begin operations in a couple weeks, replacing the vehicle that suffered a mechanical breakdown in 2010.
The library system has more assets and resources with eBooks and databases that are provided for public use.
The popularity of eBooks reached a point by year’s end that the servers handling the eBook download were operating at 150 percent of their capacity during the daytime hours.
The only way for a library to provide services to the public today is through collaboration with other libraries.
Our library system is part of the SEO Library Center, which now has 77 library systems with over 6 million items in the database. Another dozen systems are waiting in the wings to join, and their collections will further enhance the whole system.
A major upgrade of the system is planned for June 2012.
I would like to again thank everyone for their continued support of our library system and its services.