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Coshocton Public Library Levy

| October 10, 2017

Deborah Crowdy from the Coshocton Public Library is pictured leading a program for children. Contributed | Beacon

When was the levy first passed? Why and how is it being changed?

This is a new levy.  The Coshocton County District Library (commonly known as the Coshocton Public Library) has never requested an operating levy in its 113-year history. The library currently receives 97 percent of its funding from the state of Ohio through a fund called the Public Library Fund (PLF), which is a portion of Ohio’s General Revenue Fund. The Public Library Fund was originally set at 2.22 percent of the General Revenue Fund; however, it is currently set at 1.68 percent of the General Revenue Fund. In 2008, only about 35 percent of Ohio’s public libraries had local tax levies. Because of eroding state funding, that figure has increased greatly, as 77 percent of Ohio’s public libraries now have local tax levies.

What will it cost property owners?

This levy is for 0.5 mills for a period of five years, and it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $17.50 per year.

What will the funds be used for?

This is an operating levy, so the funds would go toward operating expenses for the library locations in Coshocton and West Lafayette, as well as the bookmobile. It would allow for extended hours of operation. Additional print and audiovisual materials would be purchased. New digital content, including eBooks and downloadable audiobooks would be purchased, and downloadable music and video could be added to the library’s collection – all of which could be accessed without visiting the library. Online databases and learning programs, such as digital auto repair manuals, self-directed computer instruction, language instruction (to name a few) would be purchased. Again, these would be available not only at the library, but access would be provided through the library’s website so that these services would be available from the comfort of your home with your library card. The library could also continue to grow outreach to the homebound, nursing homes, and to schools and day care centers. The library would also be able to expand its programming for children, teens, adults, and seniors.

Why should voters vote for this levy?

In 2009, Ohio’s Public Library Fund was reduced by nearly 20 percent. Much of this was caused by the fact that Ohio’s economy was suffering from the recession. The library’s board of trustees and administration was hopeful that as Ohio’s economy recovered, the Public Library Fund would be restored. Unfortunately, this has not taken place. In fact, the most recent state budget resulted in the Coshocton Public Library receiving approximately the same amount of revenue in 2017 as it received when the Public Library Fund was cut in 2009.

Without additional revenue, the library would be forced to make more cuts in order to continue to budget responsibly. However, before taking this step, the library’s board of trustees decided to let the voters determine the level of service it would like for the library to provide to the community. With this levy, the library can provide greater access to the library, as well as many new services to the community, and the library would also be in a much better position if state funding was further reduced.

What happens if this levy doesn’t pass?

If the levy does not pass, further cuts will have to be made. Staff and hours of operation would have to be reduced, and there would be fewer programs, services, and new materials. In addition, the library would be more vulnerable to any further cuts to state funding. At this point, these cuts would be on top of the cuts that were already made in 2009. The library is truly at a crossroads. We can have a better library or a worse library; however, we cannot have the same library.

Editor’s note: Questions were answered by Eric Taggart, library director.

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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