(Posted Oct. 6, 2014)
By Linda Dillman, staff writer
Faced with an unprecedented financial crisis nearly five years ago, Hurt-Battelle Memorial Library in West Jefferson placed a levy on the ballot in 2009. The library is asking voters to renew that 1.5-mill, five-year tax levy, which put the library back on its feet, updated computers and software, and returned programming cuts.
The levy accounts for half of the library’s budget. It generates $278,949 per year and costs a property owner $45.63 per year per $100,000 of valuation. The remaining half of the library’s revenue is derived from the state’s Public Library Fund, which is down 4 percent from 2013 and expected to be set at 1996 levels.
“We’ve been very fortunate that our levy has brought in a little more as the state brings in a little less,” said library Director Cathy Allen. “It is critical for us and pays for half of our funding, which has, at the state level, eroded over the years.
“We’re not planning any expansion. The levy is not for additional money or anything new, unless it’s a book or a movie. It’s for basic operating costs. If you add up all of the services for what we do here, we provide $1.4 million in service to the community and that does not include the training, classes or programming we provide.”
In 2013, Hurt-Battelle circulated over 61,000 items in a community of a little more than 7,000 people, and 6,700 people participated in library programs. Public computers were used over 7,000 times last year, and more than 1,800 new books and 400 new movies were purchased.
“I think, for a community of this size, it says a lot,” Allen said. “We’ve been fortunate that the levy allowed us to bring back services cut in 2008. At that time, we were closed on Saturdays, we couldn’t buy new books or movies, and our computers were seven years old.
“Students had difficulty with the computers because of older programming. We were able to purchase new Microsoft programs so our students could work on comparable programming. And because of our connections with other libraries, we’re not limited to what’s in our building. We can get materials from across the state.”
The original West Jefferson Library was established in 1913 and located in the town hall on Main Street. The present library was dedicated in 1988 and officially renamed the Hurt-Battelle Memorial Library in 1994. It was expanded and renovated in 2001, is a school district library and a member of the Moving Ohio Resources Everywhere network.