Large cuts proposed for Ohio libraries 6.24.09

Written by David Green.

Ohio librarians received the bad news Monday that proposed cuts in state funding threatens libraries throughout the state.

Governor Ted Strickland announced Friday that cuts to the state library fund that outpace relative reductions in other state programs.

Fayette’s Normal Memorial Library director Susan Stuckey urges patrons to contact their state representatives and the governor to express their opinion on the issue. E-mail message can be sent by looking for a link at the library’s website at http://library.norweld.lib.oh.us/fayette.

“We are going to be doing everything we can so this does not pass,” Stuckey said.

The governor is attempting to close a $3.2 billion cash shortfall by the end of the fiscal year next week by what he calls resizing state government in line with the shrinking economy.

According to an analysis by the Ohio Library Council, the cuts would reduce library funding by at least 47 percent in fiscal year 2010 and 45 percent in year 2011, compared to 2008 disbursement.

By contrast, state revenue will fall 18 percent and 16 percent in those two years.

The proposed reductions are expected to force the closure of many libraries in the state and bring severe cuts in services to many others. Libraries have already been forced to make cuts due to dwindling state funds.

The cuts are coming when libraries are facing unprecedented increases in the demand for services, according to Ohio Library Council (OLC).

“In every community throughout the state, Ohioans are turning to their public libraries for free high-speed internet to access information on employment opportunities,” said Mackenzie Betts of the OLC. “Children and teens are beginning summer reading programs and people of all ages are turning to the library for information and education.”

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