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04/22/2010

Ohio Libraries Ask for Help: Will You Respond?

©2007 Jenna Hatfield You may remember the outrage of Ohio library lovers last June when the Governor cut funding to libraries state wide. It was a hard blow for many of us, my family included as we visit our library at least once a week. Balancing the state budget is important to me but our libraries provide so much to so many people. As it stands, our own library has reduced the number of hours they are open. Other libraries have admitted a reduction in spending on book purchases, closed branches and the cessation of community-based classes like storytime and learning to use computers.

I tell you about this now because many libraries are putting levies on the May 4th ballot in hopes of getting some increased funding. As one of our bloggers already pointed out, it's important to know about the issues on the ballot before going in to vote and I couldn't agree more. As such, you need to take a look at this list (.pdf file, open in Adobe Acrobat Reader) and see if your county or city library is one of the ones asking concerned citizens for some help.

The Grafton-Midview Library is actually putting a levy on the ballot for a second time. In November, their levy was voted down by less than 200 votes. Heartbreaking, isn't it? Because of that loss, they made serious cuts in hours and in staffing. Their 1.25mil continuing levy would actually bring them back up to a 60 hour week and help restore other services. Sadly, their story isn't all that unique. The Akron-Summit County Public Libraries are asking for a 1.4mil replacement levy. If it doesn't pass over 200 people could be laid off. That's scary. The Columbus Dispatch wrote a great article about the funding crisis and how many libraries have faced significant cutbacks. With the nation facing such a difficult economic time, I'm sure many libraries are worried that they're going to be voted down.

I can tell you that those employed by and rooting for the library systems will be nervous heading into these May elections. As a family who relies on the occasional passing of levies to keep the fire department working properly, election night is one of hand-wringing and nervous browser refreshing. I encourage those of you living and utilizing library services in areas facing votes on these levies to support your local librarians in the days leading up to the election itself. Have your kids make a card that tells the librarians that they have your family's support. Write a letter to the Editor of your local newspaper. Blog about it. Ask your library if you can help in any way, either by passing out flyers or volunteering some time at the library. Even if your library isn't facing a levy vote this May, volunteering to help or just simply saying thank you will most likely be met with a grateful face. 

And, more importantly, if your library is asking for a levy, be sure to get out and vote on May 4th and encourage your friends and family members to do the same.

For more information, stay up to date with Save Ohio Libraries.

This is an original Ohio Moms Blog post.

Jenna Hatfield, aka @FireMom, is a freelance writer and newspaper photographer. She blogs at Stop, Drop & Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is a Contributing Editor at AdoptionBlogs.com and Mom Central Technology. And she really loves the library in Guernsey County!

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