On Tuesday, November 3, 2015, Portage County District Library residents will vote on a 1 mill ballot proposal to provide funding for PCDL for five years. Portage County District Library currently receives no local funding and depends entirely on state funding which is now at about the same level as that received in 1998. State funding provides about 95% of the revenues to operate PCDL’s six locations and outreach services.
Branch libraries are located in Aurora, Garrettsville, Randolph, Streetsboro and Windham. The sixth location is a computer lab located at the Deerfield Town Hall, made possible by a federal grant. Outreach services include delivery of materials to homebound individuals, nursing homes and Library Express lockers.
Citing the need for additional funding, Library Director, Cecilia Swanson noted that county residents are requesting additional services from the library. Specific requests for services include longer hours and 7-day operation at the five branch libraries, expanded programming for children, workshops for job seekers, up-to-date technology, more staff to assist library users, and library facilities in communities that do not have branch service now. Passage of the levy will provide the funds to meet these demands. Without the additional funds, the library will not be able to make improvements or keep up with the increasing demands for electronic services.
The Library Board of Trustees unanimously voted to put the measure on the ballot to make up for the loss of state funding over the years and to add funding to expand service into every school district in the PCDL area. In 2009, state funding was reduced by 30% resulting in cuts to hours of operation, staff layoffs and a reduced materials budget. That funding has not improved enough to restore those cuts or allow for expansion of service into other areas of the county.
According to an opinion survey conducted by the library in 2014, a majority of residents value libraries and would prefer a branch within their community. In the first year after passage of the levy issue, the PCDL Board plans to immediately begin increasing hours of operation at all five branch libraries, adding more staff to provide assistance to library users, more literacy-based programs for children, more library materials and more online services. The five-year plan also includes exploring opportunities to expand service into the Crestwood, Rootstown, Southeast and Field school districts.
A 1 mill levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 property about $3 a month. Passage of the levy will provide a stable source of funding to PCDL and will be used in conjunction with state funds to improve library service throughout the county.
For more information about the library levy, visit the library’s website at portagelibrary.org or the Citizens for the Library Facebook page at facebook.com/CitizensfortheLibrary.