PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
The Library is approaching the end of the 2nd year of our Library Levy, which was approved by the voters of Jefferson County in Nov. 2010.
The Levy is for a 5 year duration, and was requested to replace funds cut from the Public Library Fund by the State of Ohio over the past decade.
The cut in the Public Library Fund totaled 31 percent since 2001, with an additional 6 percent loss in 2012.
With the support of the voters of Jefferson County, and a careful review of the library’s budget, we have been able to restore services and staff, and operate an effective library system for the public.
Our library system is not alone in its financial issues. In 2009, only 34 percent of Ohio’s libraries had a supplemental levy to assist in funding. This year, 67 percent of Ohio’s libraries have levies.
Every library levy that appeared on the November ballot in Ohio was approved. Our neighbors at the Guernsey County District Library in Cambridge joined the list of libraries with levies.
We certainly aren’t proud of the need for a levy, but pleased at the support of the county voters in seeing the need for their library system.
In addition to the levy, we have examined every budget item to see what could be changed to allow the library to operate more efficiently.
In 2009, we joined the AEP Smart Grid program to convert all of our lighting to efficient tubes to reduce our costs.
We utilize the E-Rate program to receive reimbursements for phone and data services.
We examined all of our staffing levels, and adjusted hours to the times that the most people were using the services.
Our library system has been a member of an automation cooperative since 1988, sharing materials and computer services with 90 other Ohio libraries.
Our Bookmobile program was adjusted to use a smaller vehicle, and concentrate on senior housing projects, preschools, and shut-ins.
The good news is that the levy has allowed us to concentrate on public service issues within our library system.
As videocassettes and books on tape are being retired and replaced with DVDs and books on CD, we have been able to build our collections in those new media.
Our book collection has been improved with replacement of outdated titles, and additional titles to meet public demand.
Our new collection consists of eBooks, those online books that can be downloaded into your eReader and work just like their paper cousins, except there are no overdue fines.
We are in a cooperative of Ohio libraries that joined to provide eBooks within a shared system of nearly 40,000 titles.
As I have said before, the levy campaign was the largest public promotion of our library system, and an impact of that effort was more awareness of the library than ever before.
Since 2010, we have issued 3,000 new library cards, and renewed over 10,000 existing cards to the total of 34,000 active accounts, as people discover the resources of their public library.
As people become more aware of their libraries, we have received more donations of books and materials than ever before to share in our libraries.
Your public library continues to be that “last public service desk” as we field questions and information requests with real people at library buildings, phones, and computers.
I thank the voters of Jefferson County for their support and commitment to the library, and assure you that every effort is being made to expend your money wisely.