State Legislature

State’s libraries to seek restoration of funding formula

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News After a decade of asking state government to keep their funding stable, Ohio’s libraries would now like to see more revenue. The state’s Public Library Fund has received a percentage of the state’s general revenue fund. In the current budget that’s 1.68 percent, which generated $384.6 million this year. When that funding formula was put in place in 2007 the percentage was 2.2 percent, which generated $458 million in funding. The high point in state funding was in 2001, when libraries received $497.6 million, or $708.5 in today’s dollars. Then when the recession hit in late 2008 and library funding began to decline. Michael Penrod, director of the Wood County District Public Library, told the library’s board of trustees Monday that the Ohio Library Council will be looking to have the amount for the state’s public library’s returned to 2.2 percent of state revenues when the biennium budget is put together next year. As the economy struggled stable funding with the possibility of modest growth was acceptable. But now with  fat rainy day fund balance and the unemployment rate low,  it’s time to ask governor and legislature to restore the Ohio Library Fund. Ohio is unusual among states, he said, in funding libraries through the state budget. Others fund them through local or county taxes. That means they must vie for money from other government services such as parks and roads. Having that statewide structure, Penrod said, has allowed Ohio to build a network where local users can access material from across the state at no extra charge. A graphic presented by trustee Chet Marcin showed that in 2015, Ohio ranked as number 1 in the nation in library visits per capita. Ohio had 6.8 such visits compared to second place New Hampshire with 6.4 visits, and last place Texas with 2.7 visits. Board President Brian Paskvan said he believes there’s  a connection between that state support and the high level of use by residents. He noted that at one time only 30 percent of the state’s libraries had local levies, now that’s flipped…

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