February 23, 2018

Drop in State Aid Behind Ohio Closings

By LJ Staff

The closing of
five branches
of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is
symptomatic of the strains felt by all state public libraries. Libraries in
Ohio, unlike most in the country, gain most of their funding from the state,
though some also have local levies. This year libraries have suffered a cut of
seven to eight percent in state aid, said Lynda Murray, Ohio Library Council,
who noted that most state agencies were cut 15 percent.

“Our legislature’s been very supportive,” she said. “They haven’t cut us;
it’s just that the personal income tax hasn’t been performing.” Public libraries
get 5.7 percent of the state’s personal income tax, and those tax revenues are
down. In March, libraries statewide lost $5 million, and in July, they lost $30
million. Monthly funding will be frozen at last year’s amount until figures are
readjusted next March, she said. “It’s upsetting, but there’s no money,” Murray
said, “so public libraries are looking at local funding options, going out on
the ballot, or if they’re on the local ballot, increasing their levies.”
Cincinnati, the largest system, has no local levy, but is considering new
fundraising measures.