Ohio’s Big Shift to the Local Ballot

Ohio Libraires with Levies 2004 Ohio Libraries with Levies 2014Between 2004 and 2014, over 100 libraries in Ohio established local tax levies to deal with cuts from municipal, state, and federal sources.  Some would say that this shift to a more local, zip code level of funding means that libraries are more responsive to the local community and voters.  We’d argue that it was necessary to back-fill the budget responsibilities of towns, cities, and counties to fund their libraries, hire good librarians and staff, and to make sure their collections support their communities.

Check out this piece “What Library Funding Cuts Look Like” from the blog Journey to Easter House for a stark visual, and some solid data:

In the last eight years, the state government in Columbus has cut library funding.  In 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, state lawmakers cut the Public Library Fund’s formula for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years from 2.22% of the state’s General Revenue Fund to 1.97%.  In 2012, that formula was cut again, to 1.66%.   That’s the same funding level that libraries were receiving in 1996, when Bill Clinton was president, radio shock jock Howard Stern was King of All Media and cell phones were still the size of a shoe.  Since 2008, the PLF went from $450.6 million to $351.9 million in 2013, a nearly 22% decline.

NB: One note on the piece.  The blog talks about the give and take between the Mayor and City Council in New York over library funding as a kind of political theater.  We know that the advocacy and lobbying from the library community, particularly lead by Urban Librarian Unite, made the difference. Without that kind of community attention, the cuts would have stayed.