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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.

Ohio Library Legislative Day

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, April 09, 2017

 

Ohio Library Legislative Day is held in the spring each year to provide information to the legislators of the Ohio General Assembly regarding the 251 Public Library Districts in our state and their state funding.

 

The Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County receives two-thirds of its operating funds from the PLF (Public Library Fund).

 

That fund was established in 1986 to replace the former intangibles tax that had funded Ohio’s Public Libraries since 1933.

 

Currently, the PLF receives 1.7 percent of the state’s General Revenue Fund each month, which is divided among Ohio’s public libraries.

 

The remaining one-third of our operating budget comes from a 1 Mill Property Tax Levy within Jefferson County approved by voters in 2010 and renewed in 2015.

 

In 2010, the Ohio General Assembly cut the PLF by 34 percent causing 193 of Ohio’s public libraries to now have supplemental local levies.

 

The Governor’s proposed budget for the biennium of 2018-2019 has the PLF reduced to 1.66 percent or a loss of nearly $ 8 million statewide.

 

At the same time, legislative language proposes that Public Libraries should become “continuous learning centers” to serve as hubs for information about jobs and job training.
 

While we appreciate that Public Libraries are being viewed as a positive and dynamic part of local communities, it is unfortunate that we are expected to do this without the necessary funding.

 

On March 29, representatives of many Ohio Libraries descended on Columbus to provide information to our legislators about their local libraries and the role we play in local communities.

 

Librarians from Jefferson, Belmont, and Harrison counties met with State Senator Frank Hoagland and State Representative Jack Cera to show that Public Libraries today are essential parts of local communities, and share resources to bring information to the citizens of Ohio.

 

Ohio’s libraries have been a success story for decades, always leading the nation in the number of books and materials checked out by Ohio citizens.

 

Some 8.7 million Ohioans have active library cards at the 251 Public Library Systems and 850 local libraries across the state.

 

Ohioans make 77 million library visits during the year with 19 million using the public computers in their libraries.

 

As technology has advanced, Ohioans download 15.8 million digital items from their Public Library ranging from eBooks, to music, movies and magazines.

 

Some 1.6 million Ohioans took advantage of Summer Reading Clubs all around Ohio, both children and adults.

 

I enjoy Library Legislative Day in Columbus as I love to tell what’s happening in our library system; and probably ramble on too long for most legislators.

 

Ohio’s Public Libraries are one large family of information-providers, linked together, sharing resources to all of Ohio.

 

That was demonstrated in Columbus, as I greeted the Director of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and talked to the Director of Mansfield-Richland County Library and wished him well in his retirement.

 

At the luncheon held in the Capitol Atrium, the seating was arranged by Ohio Senate Districts, and I enjoyed sharing with librarians from Athens, Marietta, St. Clairsville, Cadiz, and Gallipolis.

 

It is always great to share information and ideas with other librarians, because it all comes back to providing better library service for all.