Metro directors meet, Government Relations Committee
April 13, 2009
The 9 directors of Ohio’s largest public libraries meet throughout the year, nearly always in Columbus. Our meeting this week was expanded to include our branch heads so Greg attended and met with his counterparts across the State. Unfortunately, only 5 of the 9 metro directors were able to attend. Topics discussed included state funding levels, Gates grants, Choose to Read, and a statewide digitization project modeled on our own sucessful digital project.
Information on State funding had also been discussed earlier that day at a meeting of the Ohio Library Council’s Government Relations Committee. This Committee of Library staff from across the State meets regularly to discuss legislative matters. Of course, the top concern right now is State funding. At the meeting we discussed the an amendment that would move funding for OPLIN and LFB back to the State General Revenue Fund. OLC drafted the amendment that is now in the hands of the Chair of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee we hope it makes it into the budget when it’s passed by the House. The entire budget process is a little behind schedule but we should soon see the budge leave the House and move to the Senate. The State economy has made this budget particularly difficult since everyone is fighting to keep funding for their programs and services. Our voice is just one among many. Our legislators have a very difficult task in determining how to best fund the many worthwhile programs with the ever-diminishing tax revenues available. Both at Legislative Day in March and through the Ohio Library Council, libraries have made our case for this relatively small change to the budget. We’ll wait and see what happens next.
Last week we also received the most recent funding installment from the Public Library Fund, a percentage of State taxes making up the General Revenue Fund. Not surprisingly, it was down again. Although the December Department of Taxation estimate projected a 6.8 percent drop in State funding to libraries, year-to-date library funding has actually dropped slightly more than 12%. We’re continuing to monitor spending and income carefully so that should it become necessary we can make adjustments to our spending this year. The Public Library Fund distributions are posted on the Ohio Library Council’s website at www.olc.org.
Thursday morning the Bill Moran, Chair of the Board’s Finance & Audit Committee and I met with Mayor Mallory to talk with him about the Library’s financial situation. As a former State legislator, Mayor Mallory has a much better understanding of how Ohio funds public libraries than many other elected officials. We were pleased that Mayor Mallory has agreed to endorse our levy campaign. This support will be tremendously helpful as we move forward.
Finally, my daughter and I have spent most of the weekend preparing fundraising materials for the levy campaign. She was home for Easter weekend and needed some community service hours for her college work and was willing to lend a helping hand. Thank you, Allison!