Library plans cost saving measures
The Southwest Public Libraries (SPL) will cut its expenditures by an additional $100,000.
At the March 10 meeting, the library board of trustees voted to make the cut on purchasing new materials (books, CDs and DVDs) for the Grove City and the Westland Area branches. Mark Shaw, director of SPL said each branch will see $50,000 in cuts.
The board also discussed SPL employee furloughs, if economic conditions continue to deteriorate. Shaw said the board should know by May if they would have to implement the furloughs.
“We are keeping a close eye on the state taxes,” said Shaw.
If the library goes ahead with the furloughs, Shaw explained that each employee would be required to take one day a month off without pay. SPL has approximately 84 employees; that is down 114 from seven years ago.
At the end of 2008, the Ohio Library Council told the trustees to expect a decline in state funding of about 7 percent in 2009. According to Shaw, the funding is down around 11 percent and there is no improvement for the near future.
“This is a difficult time for everyone,” Shaw remarked.
The library receives approximately 95 percent of its funding from the state of Ohio through its public library fund. Fines, fees and copier usage make up the additional funds. Shaw said the board does not want to increase fines to supplement income.
“We don’t want to punish our customers,” he said.
Residents in the SPL district do not pay property taxes to support the library. SPL has attempted seven levies over the past 20 years. All failed.
“We are zero for seven with the levies,” said Shaw of why the board is not considering another levy try. “We just do not think it would be a good use of our effort.”
Shaw also said he did not think voters would accept a property tax increase when the South-Western City School district is also asking for a tax levy.
For the past seven years, the library board has had to implement cuts to make up for the state economy. They have made a 30 percent reduction in personnel, 30 percent reduction in expenditures for materials and they are closing the Central Crossing Library branch.
That branch, which is part of Central Crossing High School, will close June 4. It will become the high school’s library. The materials there will be distributed among the Grove City and Westland Area branches.
Shaw said the decisions to cut additional expenditures and possible employee furloughs, is not one the board takes lightly. He said the board regrets the action, but they have to keep the library financially solvent. He also noted that SPL would do its best to provide residents in the district with the best services allowed by funding.
“We understand that the severe recession in the United States is hurting nearly everyone and that in these difficult times, library usage actually goes up as customers use their local library to help with job searches and to sign up for unemployment,” Shaw stated.