Bossard Director Debbie Saunders is joining her compatriots around the state in asking the public to protest the reductions to Gov. Ted Strickland and legislators before it comes up for a vote.
The legislature must act on the budget for 2009-10 before June 30.
“This will result in devastating cuts to our services,” Saunders said.
Bossard, Gallia County’s district library, relies on the PLF for nearly 80 percent of its total operating budget.
“Should the General Assembly accept the governor’s proposal for this reduction in funding, our library services would be reduced significantly across the board,” she said. “ Our operating budget cannot sustain these types of losses in revenue without major cuts in all areas, including library materials, programming, staffing and hours of operation.”
The library’s administration and board of trustees had already planned for a 20 percent reduction in funding. Further reductions “would be devastating to our community and the patrons that we serve,” Saunders said.
State Rep. Clyde Evans of Rio Grande said PLF funding is critical to libraries such as Bossard.
“I am proud to say that I consider Ohio’s public library systems among the best in the country. I have worked hard to support Ohio libraries and the services they provide,” Evans said. “ The potential cut in library funding would severely affect the financial condition of Ohio libraries, particularly those in my district because many do not have a substantial local financial basis, but rather rely entirely or nearly entirely on the state’s Public Library Fund for their operations.
“I will continue to put forth my best efforts to support Ohio’s public libraries,” he added.
Library officials believe Strickland’s proposed drastic cuts to Ohio’s public library funding will force the closure of many public libraries and branches in neighborhoods and communities in every county in the state.
Opponents of the proposal said the plan would cut the PLF “far beyond” the relative reductions in state revenues. The proposal is more than double the reductions projected by the Ohio Department of Taxation.
Analysis shows that the Strickland budget cuts would reduce library funding by at least 47 percent in fiscal year 2010 and 45 percent in fiscal year 2011, as compared to the fiscal year 2008 distributions.
Libraries have been slashing their budgets for months to find ways to maintain library services with a 20 percent reduction in state dollars.
Since January 2009, public libraries have lost 20 percent of their state revenue. The proposed 30 percent reduction is in addition to that loss.
The proposed cuts come at a time when public libraries are experiencing unprecedented increases in demand for services. In every community, Ohioans are turning to their public libraries for free high speed Internet to access information on employment opportunities, children and teens are beginning summer reading programs, and people of all ages are turning to the library for information and education.