Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Save Ohio Libraries

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

from http://www.olc.org/news_story062009.asp

6/20/09 Governor’s Budget Proposal cuts the PLF 50%. Act Now!

Many of the Ohio’s 251 public libraries could close or face significant reductions in operations as a result of the Governor’s latest proposal to balance the state’s 2010-2011 biennium budget.

Public libraries in Ohio are funded primarily through the Public Library Fund (PLF), which receives 2.2% of the state’s tax revenue. Since 2001, public library funding has been on the decline. As a result of the current downturn in the economy and decreasing state tax revenues, public libraries are currently experiencing a drop in funding from the Public Library Fund (PLF) estimated at 20% or more as compared to 2008. At a news conference on Friday, June 19, the Governor proposed an additional cut in the PLF of $112.5 million in fiscal year 2010 and $114.8 million in 2011 as part of his “framework” to fill the $3.2 billion gap in the budget that must be balanced by Ohio General Assembly’s Conference Committee by June 30. This will mean a more than 50% cut in funding for many of Ohio ’s public libraries.

With some 70% of the state’s 251 public libraries relying solely on the PLF to fund their operations, the reduction in funding will mean that many will close completely, close branches, or drastically cut hours and services.

The Governor’s proposed funding cuts come at a time when Ohio’s public libraries are experiencing unprecedented increases in demands for services. In every community throughout the state, Ohioans are turning to their public library for free high speed Internet to access information on employment opportunities, children and teens are beginning summer reading programs, and people of all ages are turning to the library for information and entertainment.

Ohio ’s public libraries offer CRITICAL services to those looking for jobs and operating small businesses. Public libraries are an integral part of education, which Governor Strickland says is critical to the state’s economic recovery. But it is unlikely that many of Ohio ’s public library systems, especially those without local levies, can remain open with these proposed cuts.

About 30% of Ohio’s public libraries have local property tax levies that supplement the state’s funding. However, with the Governor’s proposed drastic cuts in the PLF, even those libraries will face decisions regarding substantial reductions in hours of operation, materials, and staffing.

During the next nine days, the Ohio General Assembly will decide whether or not to accept the Governor’s proposal. We cannot allow that to happen; we cannot wait. ALL public libraries throughout the state should immediately notify their patrons, by e-mail if possible, of the Governor’s proposed library funding cuts and the devastating effects that will result. Patrons should be urged to contact their state legislators and the Governor’s office by phone or e-mail to voice their strong opposition. We have no time for letters. Library boards of trustees should meet as soon as possible to evaluate the impact of the proposed funding reduction and formulate plans to reduce services or shut down their libraries. Make sure your patrons know immediately the actions you might have to take. This is a drastic measure proposed by the Governor and it will require a dramatic and immediate response from the libraries and our patrons.
The General Assembly Conference Committee will likely make their decision about this proposal this week. Here are the things that you should do IMMEDIATELY:
E-mail your patrons and ask them to e-mail or call your state representatives and the Governor (614-466-3555) Immediately!

Make signs and handouts for all of your buildings. In some cases, it is appropriate to say “This Branch May Close If The Governor’s 50% Cut Is Approved - Call the Governor at 614-466-3555 and State Representative(fill in yours) and State Senator (fill in yours).

Contact your editorial boards on Monday and ask for a meeting as soon as possible.
Hold an emergency meeting of your board to discuss this cut and make sure to invite your local press.

Put a message on your Web site and include links to your state legislators e-mail address and the Governor.

Do a press release on the impact this will have on your library. Remember this cut begins July 1!

Work together with other libraries in your area.

This must be accomplished THIS WEEK.

The OLC is working with the Ohio General Assembly to make sure they don’t accept this proposal. We are developing a press release for Monday morning (we will send that to all directors). We are working with Jon Iten on a memo that will review the legal steps necessary to close or merge libraries should that become necessary. We will keep you apprised of the situation.

For more information, contact:

Ohio Library Council - (614) 410-8092
Doug Evans, Executive Director - (614) 216-0678 (cell)
Lynda Murray, Director of Government and Legal Services - (614) 746-0895 (cell)
Mackenzie Betts, Director of Communications - (614) 203-2656

To find your Ohio Senator:

To find your Ohio Representative:

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