|Several London Public Library staff members and a trustee watch with excitement and relief as the online election results come in for the library’s 1.2-mill operating levy. They are: (from left) staffer Karla Arnold, board of trustees member Dennis Park, and staffers Rebecca Stickel, Bryan Howard, Gary Branson and Mike Hensel.|
In the Nov. 6 election, two area libraries were on the ballot for the first time. Plain City Library’s levy passed. Mount Sterling Library’s levy failed. And, after multiple attempts and a change in its request, London Library saw its levy pass.
Mount Sterling Library
According to the Board of Elections, 711 votes were cast for the Mount Sterling Library levy and 1,196 votes were cast against the levy.
Despite the defeat, Mount Sterling Library Director Heidi Fletcher expressed gratitude to voters who supported the levy and to the new Friends of the Library group for their work on the campaign.
"This was our first experience doing this. We have one under our belt; we can try again," Fletcher said.
The library board was slated to discuss the election results, any possible cuts in expenses, and future levy plans at a meeting on Nov. 8.
"We’re getting ready to start a new year, which means a new budget. We’ll see how it all comes out. The book budget may be one of those areas that gets cut again," Fletcher said.
The library staff also will look at innovative ways to reach residents who live in the farther reaches of the district.
"We’re just going to go on and do the best we can to keep the library at the level of service our patrons expect," Fletcher said.
If passed, the 1-mill levy would have generated $180,746 per year for the next 10 years for the library’s operating expenses.
Plain City Library
"We’re looking forward to getting back on track with our programs and services and just being a healthy library again," said Chris Long, director of the Plain City Library following the election.
The library’s request for a 0.75-mill levy passed 661-376. The levy will generate $190,938 per year for the next five years for operating expenses.
"We had made significant cuts to our materials budget, so we’ll definitely be buying more materials. Patrons will see more books on the shelves by next year, and we’ll be able to keep up with technology upgrades," Long said.
The director said her first-time experience with a ballot issue was a "humbling" one.
"While we were out in the community getting our information across, what struck me most was the moral support," she said. "All of the library staff has just been wowed by the community’s response."
If the levy had not passed, Plain City Library would have faced a $45,000 deficit next year, even with budget cuts made over the past five years.
The London Library asked voters to replace a 1.2-mill levy for operating expenses. The levy passed 1,319-911.
In two previous elections, the library asked for millage to cover a building expansion and operating expenses. After those attempts failed, the governing board opted to ask only for continuation of funding for operating expenses.
"We’re very pleased and excited," said Director Gary Branson of the election results. "We’re just glad we’re going to be able to continue to provide the services we do and to the best of our abilities."
Branson described the local tax dollars as "the kind of millage that makes us one of the best libraries in Ohio."
He encourages the public to continue to share their ideas for ways to enhance the library’s services.
"The levy passed, but we still had 900 people who voted against it. So, we want to know if there’s something we’re not doing that they want us to do," Branson said.