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.