COLUMBUS — Bossard Memorial Library Director Debbie Saunders recently testified before the Ohio House of Representatives Finance Committee in order to emphasize the importance of libraries as community learning centers in a bid to keep state library funding at existing levels.
”I’ve attended legislative day in previous years because every year one day is set aside as library legislative day for the state of Ohio,” said Saunders. “So, library directors and trustees and library staff go to the (Ohio) Statehouse and set up meetings with their legislators in their respective districts. I’ve gone one and done that before.”
Saunders said this year while the House of Representatives was discussing Gov. John Kasich’s two-year proposed budget, she was invited to speak before the committee by the Ohio Library Council. The organization represents and works on the behalf of local libraries on issues that are of concern to them.
“Because of the programs we are offering here in Gallia, (the organization) asked me to testify before the House committee,” said Saunders. “I was able to speak about the success of the Bodies Revealed exhibition and attendance for that particular exhibition. Of particular interest also to Michelle Francis (Ohio Library Council) and the legislators was our recent Wi-Fi-to-Go program.”
Saunders said she also spoke at length about the library’s bicycle lending program in helping people get around town and its online Gale Courses program.
“I spoke about how these are instructor-led online courses focus on professional development, technology skills and personal enrichment to transform lives and foster this positive change in our community,” said Saunders. “One thing I know that is important to those in government are a library’s role in aiding workforce development. So, I used Gale Course for the public library as one such of example of how we’re doing that.”
Gale Courses allow for those with a library card to take online classes in a variety of subjects at no cost, be that financial planning, preparing for academic testing or learning the basics of photography.
Saunders discussed partnerships developed with area schools in assisting children with academic projects as well as providing resources students might not otherwise be financially able to afford. Last year, 19,555 visitors came to Bossard Memorial Library’s hosting of the Bodies Revealed exhibit, a nationally-recognized exhibit which displays actual human forms for anatomical education. Visitors came from 34 different states and 59 of Ohio’s 88 counties to the exhibit in Gallia. Saunders said “at least” 6,500 of those visitors were also students. Saunders in the past has emphasized this meant economic growth for the area as visitors would shop and eat at local establishments.
Saunders said the state may be looking at cuts to local library funding and the Ohio Library Council wanted to display why they hoped the budget would continue to fund libraries at the same level it had in the past.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.