POMEROY — For the first time in it’s 111-year existence, the Meigs County Public Library will be looking to the community it serves to help with its funding.
With repeated budget cuts over the past few years and more expected in the years to come, the local library has been forced to make difficult cuts and could face more in the future.
Since 2007, the Meigs County Library has faced a 33.5 percent budget cut, resulting in cuts in staff and hours of operation at all four branches. The biggest round of budget cuts came in 2009, forcing several layoffs. Five full-time employees and five part-time employees were let go.
According to Meigs County Public Library Director Kristi Eblin, more cuts are expected in the upcoming year. At the present time, cuts in 2012 are projected to be at or above 6.5 percent.
Eblin projected that 98 percent of Meigs County’s library funding comes from the state.
The funds available in 2011 were equal to that of the funds the library received in 1997, while costs have repeatedly been on the rise. Over those 14 years, the cost of materials has increased, and two additional libraries have been added in the county.
Potential cuts to a library system, which is already “hanging by the skin of its teeth,” have forced the decision to seek funding through a local tax levy.
The five year, 1-mil operating levy will appear on the March 6 ballot. This levy is projected to cost $2.67 per month for the owner of a home valued at $100,000.
“With the uncertain future of library funding, the levy will ensure the ability to maintain library services in all our current locations and provide the funds necessary to restore some services which were lost to previous funding cuts,” according to the levy fact sheet.
In addition to the added stability these funds could provide, the levy funds would allow for more books, E-books, DVDs, audio books and more to be added to the collection already in place. Hours of operation may increase, along with the increase in programs for adults and children.
While this is the first levy the Meigs County Library has placed on the ballot, Gallia County passed a similar levy in November 2010.
The Meigs County libraries provided much more than just books to Meigs County’s approximately 23,000 residents.
According to Mike Struble, chairman of the Save The Meigs County Library committee, the library provides vital services to the area, ranging from computer use for job searches and resumes to education through the book clubs and children’s programs.
In 2010, the library had a total circulation of 158,725 items among 23,000 card holders. A total of 12,428 people used the library’s computer system, which is available for use at any of the four locations.
In addition to the computers available for use, wi-fi is also available at the four branches. Over a six month time span, 2,534 different devices were connected to the library wi-fi system.
New in the last few months of 2011 were the e-books, which are now available at the library. From July to December 2011, a total of 1,346 E-books were checked out by 338 people.
Kids programs have been a long standing tradition at the Meigs County libraries, with Pomeroy alone hosting 83 kids events for nearly 1,800 kids last year.
The library offers meeting space to the community, last year hosting 210 meetings with over 3,000 participants.
Other services provided by the library include: printing, copying and faxing for a small fee; notary services; disc repair; passport photos; ellison die and sizzix machine; Golden Buckeye Card registration; voter registration; and federal and state tax forms.
Reading collections at the library include: audio-visual; media; digital downloads, including E-books; large print; genealogy; and reference databases.
The main branch of the Meigs County Library, located in Pomeroy, remains open seven days per week, but with fewer evening hours. The Racine Branch is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the Middleport Branch is open on Wednesday and Friday. The Eastern Branch, located inside the Eastern Elementary School is open on Tuesday and Thursday.
In addition to the four locations throughout the county, the library also provides “home-bound service,” delivering library materials to home-bound and nursing home patrons.
The next meeting of the Save Meigs County Libraries committee will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Pomeroy Library. Save Meigs County Libraries can also be found on Facebook.