Levy would keep library doors open
The Southwest Public Libraries face an uncertain future according to Amy Shaw, public information officer.
The Grove City Library or the Westland Library may close if voters turn down Issue 8 on Nov. 2. The 1-mill tax levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $2.55 per month or $30.63 a year.
Southwest Public Libraries receive 95 percent of its funding from the state of Ohio. Shaw explained the state faces a deficit of $8 billion and more cuts are likely to fill that hole.
“There is no way we can get through that without more sweeping cuts,” said Shaw.
Shaw added the library system is funded at the same level as in the 1980s.
Southwest Public Libraries has eliminated 65 positions in the past 10 years. Staff recently took a 10 percent pay cut and they have not received a pay increase in 10 years.
Library hours have been cut by a third and the materials budget has been slashed by 75 percent. The Central Crossing branch has been shut down.
Shaw said she has been with Southwest Public Libraries for 22 years and has never seen a more difficult financial time.
The library is also busier than ever.
“We have seen a huge jump in use,” said Shaw.
Just over a year ago, Southwest Public Libraries had 40,000 registered users. It now has 60,000 users. Shaw said an average of 10,000 people come in each week.
Shaw said people turn to the library in difficult economic times. It offers free computer use and Internet access. The library system also offers free resume assistance and career workshops.
If voters approve the tax levy, the library would restore many of the cuts made over the past decade. It would protect the library from more cuts to programs and services.
Southwest Public Libraries is the only library system in Franklin County without local tax support. The library has attempted a tax levy seven times in the past 20 years, without success.
Shaw said if the levy fails, the board of trustees would decide whether to close a branch and which one of the two would close.
“If the library is important to you, get out there and vote,” said Shaw. “There might not be another chance.”