Friday, June 26, 2009

OLC responds to the governor

The Ohio Library Council has drafted a response to Governor Strickland's earlier open letter:

It appears that Governor Strickland has chosen to ignore the public outcry
supporting Ohio's public libraries and is sticking to his original proposal to
slash public library funding by 30% in each of the next two years. His proposed
cuts are in addition to the 20% decrease already experienced by public libraries
due to decreases in tax revenues.

Public libraries recognize that these are tough times and have been willing to shoulder their fair share of the burden. However, an additional 30% is not a fair share.

The OLC appreciates the fact that Governor recognizes the value of the public libraries in this state but his continued stance on cutting library funding will be

The OLC hopes the General Assembly has heard the voice of Ohioans supporting public libraries and we strongly urge them to appropriately represent their constituents' voices in the budget process.

And now a word from your governor

Governor Strickland is standing by his budget that takes away half the funding for Ohio's libraries, shuttering many of them. Here's a statement recently posted on his website:

"Our public libraries serve an important role in the lives of Ohio children and adults. The funding reduction faced by our libraries is one that will also be experienced by state government programs across the board.

My framework to balance the state budget includes a reduction in state aid to libraries in order to minimize the impact of $2.43 billion in spending reductions that will impact services for our most vulnerable, especially children, the elderly and disabled. These cuts will help to address the $3.2 billion budget gap without raising taxes on Ohio families and businesses. The framework reduces the size of government in line with the shrinking economy, and keeps our commitment to the classroom reforms that will better prepare Ohio students for jobs. All this will position Ohio for job growth and economic recovery.

Without doubt, what I have outlined requires tough choices. Many of the services that Ohioans have come to rely on will have to be reduced, and some suspended. This is not because those services are not worthy. It is because state government has to prioritize limited resources to make it through this recession. Every day, similar decisions are being made around countless kitchen tables and shop floors throughout Ohio.

I believe that libraries provide important services to members of our community. While many of us turn to our libraries for book clubs, summer reading and research projects, Ohioans also utilize the local library as a place to find free high speed internet access and to receive assistance with finding a job or filing their taxes. I am committed to the goal and vision of our libraries and the services they provide. During these difficult economic times, it is important that our libraries remain a haven for individuals to gather and utilize resources. That’s why my framework commits $531 million in funding for our libraries over the next biennium.

All Ohioans are making shared sacrifices. But I have faith that, with the commitment of our community members, we will be able to overcome today’s challenges and continue working to build a stronger, better Ohio."

I disagree that Gov. Strickland is making a tough choice. I think he's making an easy choice -- just slash whatever he sees. The more he can take from something, the better. Instead of thinking about what the budget cuts will cause, such as destruction of Ohio's public library services, he's thinking solely of the budget.

Certainly Ohio's libraries shouldn't be immune to cuts. But they shouldn't be shuttered, which is what this proposal does to them, mostly the rural libraries. Especially hard hit will be southeast Ohio. Northwest Ohio might not fare too much better.

You can download the governor's letter here, though I don't know why you would want to.

So people are reading this

So when I started this blog last weekend I didn't really think much was going to come of it. I knew a lot was going to come of Governor Strickland's budget proposal that would halve library support in Ohio. Oh, that was an issue that was going to explode.

I figured that since I was at the start of a week of vacation maybe I could follow along and post some of the events as everything mushroomed in the next few days. And maybe help make a few things happen.

I also wanted to try and find out the impact of social media such as blogs and Facebook and Twitter. I have accounts at all of them. I wanted to link my posts to my Facebook page and see if I could help spread the message. I could have done more. I haven't really gone to many message boards and other sites to link my blog, except for and Gov. Strickland's Facebook page and the Save Ohio Libraries group on Facebook.

Now I am finding out people are actually reading it. I first posted my blog URL on the first Library Journal article about the proposed funding cuts. Later I found out they incorporated my blog into the main part of the article. (Of course I forgot what I actually named my blog when I posted, calling it The Shuttered Library when that was the URL but I actually gave it the name The Library Is Now Closed. I like them both so will keep them both.)

Then I found out my blog was mentioned in Jessamyn West's blog, which has been rarin' since 1999. And in American Libraries, who even figured out who I am. (Not that it's a secret; I'm not hiding and it's found right there through my profile if you click on enough things.)

Now this blog is even being linked on sports blogs, like, which knew of me through my God Hates Cleveland Sports blog that I sometimes update. Kudos to them for stepping away from their regularly scheduled programming for a moment. Cincinnati librarian Dave Menninger gave me a link on his blog. And I found out from Rahne Everson of When Boredom Strikes that this blog is even peripherally connected to Neil Gaiman, who tweeted this the other day:

Foolish, bad Governor Strickland: Libraries are essential services. Read & RT and its links #saveohiolibraries
I am one of "its links". That's pretty cool :)

I suppose I should put some links along the side over there. You know,, Strickland's Facebook page, news coverage -- stuff like that. But I am on vacation right now. Well, for a few more hours. Then it becomes just like any other weekend.

Except we're trying to save the libraries.

No basis for Gov. Strickland's "disingenuous" library comments?

Apparently it's OK for the governor to go Cincinnati's 700-AM WLW radio station and call libraries disingenuous, manipulative, and dishonest, even if there's no basis for what he is saying. And when he's called on it, his staff can be rude about it. That's all OK.

Fred Baerkircher, head of Adult Public Services at Twinsburg Public Library, posted this on and Gov. Strickland's Facebook page:

"The governor on the radio made mention of a library giving a July 1 due date as a scare tactic to raise awareness of this issue. I’ve e-mailed asking what library it was, with no response. I’ve left phone messages, with no response. I’ve now talked to three different staffers at the governor’s office. One said he would get back to me with an answer, but has not. One just hung up on me. Another said she’d find a supervisor who knew. That turned out to be the gentleman who hung up on me, and he promptly did so again.

"This has every appearance of being a dis-information campaign on the part of Gov. Strickland. He has portrayed libraries as being disingenuous regarding the weight of these cuts and using scare tactics to sway the public. Given the inability to name a single library giving these short due dates the governor mentioned, I am left to conclude this was simple slander. The media has repeated Strickland’s assertion that libraries have engaged in fear tactics. I feel they should now pick up on the story that was a slanderous fabrication."

Hmmmmmmmmmmm, sounds like someone doesn't like to be questioned. Were Gov. Strickland's comments based in truth? Perhaps. But since he hasn't named any library that's done it what he claims (which is telling people checking out items that they have to bring them back by July 1 because the library might be closed for good then) and since his staff feels it can just slam the phone down on people who question this, perhaps we'll believe the alternative.

Here's what's going on in Ohio libraries Friday morning

The Plain Dealer reports that a budget deal appears near as a House-Senate committee has scheduled a Saturday morning meeting. That normally signals a deal is imminent, writes Aaron Marshall. No word on what the budget figures will show. The Canton Repository calls for a temporary state budget to be put into place.

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights libraries will go dark for five minutes at noon. This is in solidarity with some other northeast Ohio libraries who have had to go without lights during the day as a cost-cutting step, such as the Hurt/Battelle Memorial Library in West Jefferson, according to CH-UH director Nancy S. Levin.

The Save Ohio Libraries group on Facebook has just gone over 30,000 members.

Several state representatives and senators have vocalized their support for libraries -- Rep. Jeff McClain, (R-Upper Sandusky); Dave Burke, (R-Marysville); Rep. Robert D. Hackett (R-London); Rep. Jay Hottinger, (R-Newark); Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview Heights); and Rep. Deborah Newcomb (D-Conneaut), to name a few.

The Ohio Library Council advises that libraries "pare back" their messages that ask patrons to contact politicians. They believe the campaign has worked so far.

Now is the time to begin thanking all those who have spoken up in support of libraries.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Save Ohio Libraries rally at downtown Cleveland Public Library

We'll let the pictures do most of the talking on this one. Above is the scene as it looked from the top of the steps of Cleveland Public Library on Superior Avenue Wednesday morning ... and that's only looking one way.

Here's looking the other ...

That's Don Boozer, the KnowItNow24X7 Coordinator for Cleveland Public Library holding the flag. No, he didn't pose for this picture. I don't think.

So there they were, lined up on both sides of the street in front of CPL. I'd estimate at least 500 people there, but I'm always way under when it comes to guessing the amount of jellybeans in the jar in those contests to win a new car, so there might have been even more.

They came to hear these guys, directors of libraries all across northeast Ohio. There was Felton Thomas, new director of Cleveland Public Library, who gave a fantastic speech. There was Ken Warren of Lakewood Public Library, who sounded like he was ready for 25 more years of fighting for libraries despite his impending retirement party the same evening. is still trying to save Ohio's libraries with a retirement party scheduled for tonight. There was Donna Perdzock of my own Euclid Public Library. There was Nancy Levin of Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library. There were directors from Sandusky, from Bellevue, from Huron, from Medina, from Mentor, and from many more. There were even puppets, courtesy of Kingsville Public Library director Mariana Branch and one of her library employees, whose name I unfortunately didn't get.

The media was there:

I saw WJW Fox 8, WKYC Channel 3, WTAM 1100-AM radio, WKSU 89.7-FM radio, WERE 1490-AM radio, The Plain Dealer, and Cleveland Magazine represented. There were probably more. I even got a pretty good quote into the Cleveland Magazine reporter's blog. Click on any of the media outlet's names to find the story they've already posted.

And then the signs. Ooooooooooooooh, the signs ...

After the rally, a bunch of us walked a couple blocks to the Crowne Plaza Hotel on St. Clair and East 6th thinking that Governor Strickland was going to be there at 11:30 a.m. ...

Alas, we had the wrong information. Gov. Strickland is scheduled to be there July 24, not June 24. But here's something cool. See that awesome green sign? That's held by Stephanie Hall, who has recently joined Blackstone Audio as a sales rep. I buy some of Euclid Public Library's audiobooks from her. She lives in Warren and drove all the way to Cleveland to support the state's libraries. She plans on going to Columbus for Thursday's rally.

No one talks about the ancillary businesses that will be affected if the state's library budget is slashed in half. Euclid Public Library orders from Blackstone, Recorded Books, Playaway, Baker & Taylor, Midwest, Quality Books, Unique Books, Tantor Audio, Books on Tape, Ingram -- and those are the ones that I can name off the top of my head. What happens to these companies and all their employees if library funding vanishes? It's more than librarians who have a stake in this.

If you want to see some more pictures, go to Flickr. You'll find mine at that link, and even more (and dare I say better) ones from Michael Dalby and from Cleveland Public Library itself.

And make sure you check out Cleveland Public Library's YouTube videos from the rally.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Save Ohio Public Libraries! Rodman Public Library, Alliance, Ohio

If you want to know what your library might look like come July 1, just check out the home page for Rodman Public Library in Alliance.

That's right. There's nothing there. Well, except for a message that says there will be nothing there come July 1.

Read how?

OK, so I didn't quite do this with it, but you get the idea.

My hometown library in Findlay

My hometown library growing up was the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library.

I don't recognize it now. Oh, it's still on the same spot, right between East Front and East Main Cross Streets in downtown Findlay, with South Cory Street running along the back. But it's a totally different building. A much needed expansion and renovation several years ago modernized the building. No longer can I climb the creaky stairs to the small, packed second floor and sit in the one chair in a not-that-well-lit area and read whatever I wanted in a place that felt like a secret hideout.

I'm OK with that. You might not be OK with the changes that are coming to the Findlay Library and many others around the state if Governor Strickland's proposed cuts to the state budget go through. Earlier this year the Findlay Library already made many cuts in service hours and eliminated a plan to purchase several new computers. Should the next round of cuts go through, the cuts that slash library funding by 50% compared to 2009's proposed levels, the Findlay Library loses $1.2 million over the next two years, starting July 1.

Library director Jeff Winkle says he does not know how that would affect the library, although he calls them "drastic." I don't know what will happen with Findlay's library either. I'll tell you this -- you won't recognize your library anymore if the cuts go through. But it won't be in a good way.

Findlay's not alone. Do a Google News search on "Ohio libraries" and you'll find dozens of articles that quote stunned library directors wondering if their libraries will be able to stay open. Many of them won't. Or if they can, they'll be open less hours than most people exercise in a week. (That's a cute way of saying, not much.)
Help them out:

* Call the Governor's office at 614-466-3555
* Call your local state representative
* Call your state senator

Save your library.

A heck of a start

Librarians and library supporters across the state mobilized in amazing ways on Monday.

A newly created Facebook group called Save Our Libraries had just over a thousand members Monday morning. It's up to 5,659 at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Many of those Facebook members changed their profile pictures to show a Save Our Libraries logo, which can be found at the blog Hundreds of people have filled Gov. Ted Strickland's Facebook page with message in support of Ohio's libraries.

People put good old-fashioned technology to work as well, inundating the governor's office with nearly 1,100 calls asking for our libraries to be saved. In a normal day the governor's office receives 150 calls. That's right, almost 10 times as many calls in support of libraries alone came through yesterday.

But guess what? Monday was just the start. The work has barely begun.

The Cleveland Public Library has scheduled a rally Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. right out front of their building at 325 Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland. I'll be there. Will you? We need you.

Remember, you can keep calling your representatives. Here's the ways to get in contact with them:

* Call the Governor's office at 614-466-3555
* Call your local state representative
* Call your state senator

Save your library.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What you can do

So what can you do to save your library?

Ohio Library Council has some great suggestions on its website. You don't even have to live in Ohio to do some of these things.

I'm going to lift directly from OLC's site for the following. Hope they don't mind!

Contact your legislators! Let your state legislators and the governor know what your library means to you! Locate your State Representative or State Senator.

Governor Ted Strickland
contact online
Post a message on Governor Strickland's Facebook page.

Senator Bill Harris,
President of the Senate


Senator John Carey,
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee


Representative Armond Budish,
Speaker of the House

Representative Vernon Sykes,
Chairman of the House Finance Committee


Spread the word!

After contacting your legislators, help us spread the word to your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Here are some suggestions:

Update your Facebook status.

_____ contacted my elected officials to help save Ohio libraries and you should too. Find out more:

Post a tweet on Twitter.

I contacted my elected officials to help save Ohio libraries and you should too. Find out more:

Change your profile picture on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

Right click on the Save Ohio Libraries image, save it to your desktop, and upload as your profile picture to show your support of Ohio libraries!

Send an email to your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues!

"Ohio libraries are in jeopardy. I contacted the governor and my legislators to let them know what my library means to me. Find out how you can help, too:"

Now we're onto something

Cuyahoga County Public Library -- you now rock as well!

CCPL and Cincinnati join in

Cuyahoga County Public Library and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County have joined in with links from their websites.

Both pages are great. However, each library needs to display the info on its front page much larger and much more prominently. I might have missed the Cincinnati link might very well have been there when I posted earlier. Even when I knew it was there I had to look twice.

Let's make sure we only have to look once, guys.

Toledo rocks, but where's the big boys?

Here's the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library's home page as of this morning.

Let me say this: Toledo, you rule.

I have to ask -- where are you, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cleveland Public Library, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and Columbus Metropolitan Library??? If there's anything on your websites about this issue, you've done a fine job hiding it.

Four of the five biggest libraries in the state have NOTHING on their websites about the upcoming cuts proposed in the state budget. Only Dayton among the Big 5 has anything on their site. They were on the ball Friday.

How can the libraries expect their patrons to rally around them if our biggest libraries aren't leading the charge? WHERE ARE YOU??????

Steubenville chopping block: five branches, 35 employees

I used to live in Steubenville. Met my first real girlfriend there. She worked for the Public Library of Steubenville while pursuing her Master's degree at Pitt. Then she moved to Seattle and took various library jobs there. I chose to stay in Ohio. That was a dozen years ago.

Maybe I should have moved there. I don't think the state of Washington has threatened to wipe out its library system in a week anytime over the last dozen years. Ohio has. The deadline is next week.

What's this post got to do with the libraries closing? Well, here's a list of closures the Steubenville library system faces if Governor Strickland's proposed budget goes through: Adena, Brilliant, Dillonvale, Tiltonsville, and Toronto. That comes straight from a press release from the library, which also announces the end of bookmobile service, 35 staff layoffs, and reduced hours at the main library and Schiappa branch of the library (the one by the mall).

That's one library system. Five closures and 35 people out of work.

Only 174 more libraries that are solely supported by state funding to go.

Word is getting out

Word is getting out.

Late Friday, after everyone had started their weekend, after the news cycle had ended and most reporters were wrapping up their week, Governor Ted Strickland announced his proposed biennium Ohio state budget for fiscal years 2010-2011.

Strickland's budget director informed Ohio Library Council director Lynda Murray of the pending cuts to Ohio's libraries before his Friday afternoon press conferrence. For most of the weekend, only Library Journal had the story up.

That's changing. Now, many libraries around the state have posted the news to their websites, front and center where something this drastic needs to be. Facebook is exploding with the news, especially Governor Strickland's own page. Now the regular news sites are catching up.

The Ashtabula Star-Beacon in northeast Ohio chimed in with a story about its area's library directors holding an emergency meeting Sunday. Springfield, down toward the opposite corner of the state, has an article that says the Clark County Public Library faces a $2.5 million budget shortfall thanks to the proposed budget. Even the Daily Kos has a thread about the impending doom Ohio's libraries face.

The news isn't out there enough, though. Let's keep it going. If you know someone in the media, tell them what's going on. No matter what the outcome, this is a juicy story for the media. It's got all sides -- a supposedly benevolent governor suddenly pulling the rug out from under a successful social service, hundreds of librarians mobilizing in grassroots efforts, outraged patrons, a collapsing economy. Whatever happens, the media can run with this for awhile.

Let them know.

The buzzwords: Emergency, drastic, devastating

Euclid Public Library wants you to know what's at stake with the library emergency.

Worthington Libraries want you to know what's at stake with their emergency call to action.

The Mansfield/Richland County Public Library wants you to know what's at stake with its urgent announcement.

The Clark County Public Library wants you to know about the Ohio library funding emergency.

The Dayton Metro Library wants you to know about the extreme cuts it is facing.

The Portage County District Library wants you to know about the devastating library budget proposal.

The Portsmouth Public Library wants you to help Save Ohio Libraries.

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County wants you to know about the devastating proposed budget cuts.

The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library wants you to know about its emergency call to action.

The Washington County Public Library wants you to know quite simply that it could close.

Emergency. Urgent. Extreme. Devastating. Closure. Save Ohio Libraries. Nice words to use when it comes to your local library, aren't they? It's a sad truth that could become a sadder library in just eight days.

Don't let it happen.

* Call the Governor's office at 614-466-3555.
* Call your local state representative.
* Call your local state senator.

Help save your library.

A letter from Mansfield

Mansfield/Richland County Public Library children's assistant Amanda Riggans believes the budget news is dire for Ohio libraries. She has sent the following letter to her state senator, Bill Harris, and her state representatives, Jay P. Goyal and Margaret Ruhl. She has shared it here:

Dear Senator Harris, Representative Goyal, and Representative Ruhl:

I am writing because of the horrifically drastic cuts that Governor Strickland is proposing to the Public Library Fund. With only days to go before the state budget needs to be approved, surely this sudden "need" to cut money from the PLF is a shock to so many across the state, including myself. I am a Children's Assistant with the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library and I see first-hand how vital public libraries are to the communities that they reside in. The public library I work for has 9 branches, and each branch serves a distinctly different community, but all are so important to the customers that come into those buildings every day. I just had a mother of four tell me this past Thursday that she feels the public library is the only place where people can get so much for so little. She uses the computers to search for jobs while her children pick out books and movies and sign up for the summer reading program. This woman, a complete stranger to me, looked me dead in the eye and told me she couldn't imagine not having a library in Mansfield, Ohio.

Mansfield, Ohio is a place that has made the news lately; General Motors just announced that they will be closing the stamping plant here, many other businesses and people will suffer because of that. Now the proposal is to take away one of the few resources this community has left...the public library. Do you realize that if this budget cut passes that many libraries will not survive? Jobs, resources, a safe place for children to go to in the summer and after school, where people can search for jobs and find the help they need in a time of economic crisis....public libraries mean all this, but most importantly, they are one of the few places left where people have FREE access to knowledge and education. Libraries don't care what aspect of life you come from; the doors are always open to anyone. And now Governor Strickland wants to take that away from the state of Ohio.

This budget cut to the PLF CANNOT GO THROUGH. It will ruin communities across the state. The Governor says these cuts are needed to stabalize the economy and budget in Ohio. It sounds to me like he's trying to take the path of least resistance, thinking that no one will care if the libraries are shut down. If any of you have ever set foot in a public library, I do not need to tell you how important these places are to their customers. Article after article has been written about the importance of public libraries in a time of economic downturn, and now the Governor wants to, effectively, shut them down. If he believes this will help the state of Ohio, he obviously has no idea what libraries do for their communities. I can't propose to tell you where budgets need to be cut in order to save the libraries, but something must be done to stop the Governor's proposal. Libraries are not just houses of books and movies and computers...we are strongholds of the community. In one day at my job, I can sign up fifty children for the summer reading program, answer thirty reference questions on every topic imaginable, help a parent look for a job to support his/her children since they were just laid off and help educate young minds--all in an eight or nine hour period. And I go home at the end of the day and I know, without any doubt, that I have helped so many people because I am part of an organization that cannot be replaced in the community.

Please tell Governor Strickland that these budget cuts are a gigantic mistake and if these pass, it will desecrate the state of Ohio. If things look bad now, they will look far worse without the public libraries to help people in a time of need.

Amanda Riggans


I agree with Amanda. Many of you do as well. This morning meetings are being held at libraries across the state, including one at my own library in Euclid. There has never been a more important week in Ohio library history than this one. Please make sure people know what's at stake.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Don't let them shutter your library

Ohio's libraries have been earmarked for the dustbins. The next biennium budget proposed by Governor Ted Strickland cuts the state's support for its public libraries in half, from nearly $460 million in 2009 to around $227 million for each of the next two years.

Since nearly 175 of the state's 251 public libraries rely solely on state funding for support, this basically wipes those libraries out. Since the budget must be approved by the end of June according to Ohio law, the library landscape in Ohio will drastically change July 1 if this budget is approved. Even libraries that also have local support will find their landscapes drastically altered. Staff, material, hours, and anything else you can imagine associated with libraries will be drastically reduced.

Libraries are mobilizing their efforts to contact state legislators and let them know exactly how needed libraries are and what will happen if they turn out the lights on funding in Ohio. Along those lines, I have started this Shuttered Library blog.

Forward this to anyone you know who has anything to do with libraries. Encourage them to send me their stories of what their library has done for them. Ask them to send pictures of what efforts your library is making to get the word out about the possible closure of Ohio's public libraries -- signs, rallies, anything of the like.

I would like to add as many things as I can to this blog as the week goes on. I will regularly update the blog, post it to Facebook and Twitter, and email it to as many people I can to get the word out.

Anyone can email anything they have to me for publication at

Mike Stein
Reference Librarian
Euclid Public Library

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nothing @ your library

Come July 1, your local library might very well look like this if you live in Ohio. That's the day the newest biennium budget goes into effect. And if it goes into effect as Governor Ted Strickland has proposed, 70% of Ohio's 251 public libraries are effectively closed.

The state faces a $3.2 billion budget deficit. To close the gap by the end of this month, as required by law, many social services will suffer. One of the worst hit services based on the currently proposed budget are Ohio's libraries, which will see half of their state funding vanish from 2009 to 2010. The current budget calls for around $460 million in state funds to be shared by Ohio's public libraries. In each of the next two years, the proposed budget calls for around $227 million for public libraries. Since about 175 of Ohio's libraries rely solely on state funds, this is a looming disaster.

It's simple. No money equals no libraries. No libraries equals no computer services for those applying online for jobs. No libraries equals no business-plan research for those starting a small business. No libraries equals no car-repair manuals for the many do-it-yourselfers who work on their own cars to save money. No libraries equals a loss of a community asset for dozens and dozens of spots around Ohio.

This isn't a call to take money from everywhere else and give it the state's libraries. We're saying cutting library funding in half is like cutting a person in half. While sacrifices need to be made in these horrible economic times, there's no need to destroy Ohio's renowned library service.

Unless you want nothing @ your library, make sure your voice is heard:

* Call the Governor's office at 614-466-3555.
* Call your local state representative.
* Call your state senator.

We have until the end of this week to let the politicians in Columbus know how valued Ohio's library system is.

Your local library will be closing July 1 ...

... if it gets all of its funds from the state, and the proposed state budget is passed by the Ohio General Assembly in the next 10 days.

Even if your library has support from a local levy, its services will be slashed. Hours, books, CDs, movies, magazines, research ability, staff, computers -- you'll have very little chance to access any of these.

That's because Governor Ted Strickland's proposed state budget, which by Ohio law must be decided upon by the end of this month, hacks library support in half. Ohio's libraries have traditionally been ranked as the best in the country, or at least in the top three. Part of that is due to healthy support from the state, expected to be around $460 million this year.

That $460 million in the Public Library Fund (PLF) has already been eroded over the year to the tune of 20%. The proposed budget will destroy the fund. And with it, about 175 of the state's 251 public libraries will be destroyed.

The PLF for 2010 and 2011 under the proposed budget is approximately $227 million less than projected for 2009. Passing of Governor Strickland's proposed budget means libraries will have 50% less funds available to them for each of the next two years than they thought they would at the beginning of this year. If it happens, your local library will not be able to function. The Ohio Library Council (OLC) will recommend that many libraries put themselves in mothballs for six months.

Certainly cuts need to be made to reign in a $3.2 billion state budget deficit. But not at the expense of 70% of Ohio's libraries. Even the libraries with local support will be forced to cut hours and staff and offer less materials to the public. They'll have less programs for adults and fewer storytimes for children.

To save Ohio's libraries, please do the following:
* Call the Governor's office at 614-466-3555
* Call your local state representative
* Call your state senator

As for me, I'm a librarian so of course this issue is important to me. Aside from the fact that I believe in the mission of libraries and think they are one of the best services taxpayers received for their money, I might very well be looking for a job if this budget becomes reality. Perhaps this is the reason I have been looking for to leave this state, but I'd kinda like to control my own destiny for just a little while longer.