Many of Ohio’s public libraries are struggling to make ends meet due to cuts in state funding. As a result, many are going on the ballot seeking local tax support, some for the first time. Mount Sterling Public Library is among them.
“We’re trying to work on a budget that is equivalent to what we had six years ago,” said Director Heidi Fletcher.
To trim expenses, the library’s book budget has been decreased, some staffing positions have been left vacant, and, this year for the first time, private donations were solicited to sponsor entertainment for the summer reading program.
While state funding has fallen behind local expenses, Mount Sterling Library’s circulation numbers have continued to grow.
“Over the last two years, our circulation has been over 5,000 pieces of materials a month. We’ve never done that in our history. It tells us we’re doing something right as a service to the community,” Fletcher said.
To continue and to increase that level of service, Mount Sterling Library is asking voters to support a 1-mill, 10-year operat-ing levy that would generate $180,746 per year. The cost of the levy for a person who owns a home valued at $100,000 would be $30.63 per year. The tax would apply to property owners in the Madison Plains Local School District.
If the levy passes, the library could re-store its book budget and increase its pro-gramming to include such services as com-puter classes, more storytimes, more after-school activities, and outreach efforts to more of the library’s service area. The levy also would provide operating money for an expansion the library hopes to build with donated funds to alleviate space issues.
If the levy fails, Fletcher said the library would have to consider cuts in hours, staffing and materials.
“This all affects our patrons, and we really hate to see that happen,” she said.
A new “Friends of the Mount Sterling Library” group has been campaigning on behalf of the library, spreading the word about the levy and the services the facility provides. Fletcher said she is thankful for their support.
“I’m so happy to see there are so many people who are passionate about the library. They want to see us continue to grow,” she said.
For more information about Mount Sterling Public Library’s levy request, call the library at 740-869-2430 or stop in at 60 W. Columbus St.