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Without Issue 4, libraries face big cuts
Without passage of Issue 4, the Columbus Metropolitan Library system will lose more than half its budget.
The result could be closing half of the library’s branches, reducing its programs and postponing any facility maintenance.
“Nothing is off the table,” said Kim Snell, media relations and communications coordinator. “There is no way to support 21 branches with less than half of the money we currently use to do so.”
The library’s current levy expires this year, and without passage of its replacement levy, the library’s budget would fall from about $44 million to about $20 million, she said.
“Some very serious cuts will have to take place, but the board of trustees will not make those specific decisions until after the election,” she said.
The 2.8-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 property an extra $5.24 per month in taxes. The continuing levy would take effect in January 2011.
Since 2008, the library system has made $11 million in cuts to offset a decrease in state funding. Some of the cuts have included:
• Closing an additional 236 service hours per week;
• Cutting hourly staff hours by 10 percent;
• Cutting salaried staff pay by 5 percent;
• Delaying and defering maintenance of facilities; and
• Reducing the books and materials budget to 1988 levels.
All of this has occurred at a time when the library has seen some of its highest numbers of patrons walk through its doors.
In 2008, 32,000 kids used the library system’s Homework Help Centers, which are open three hours per day Monday through Thursday to help students complete their homework. In 2009, that number grew to more than 50,000.
“We also circulated 16.5 million items last year, there were more than 8 million visits to our library, and folks signed up to use our public computers more than 2 million times,” Snell said.
In 2009, the library’s Job Help Centers served 40,000 residents seeking assistance in looking for jobs.
“All of the library’s energy is currently focused on making sure the levy passes,” Snell said.
For more information on Issue 4, go to www.columbuslibrary.org.
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