State library funding: past and present
General history of Ohio public library funding
- Beginning in 1933, public libraries in Ohio were supported almost entirely from intangible personal property tax revenue.
- In 1983, the Ohio General Assembly repealed the intangible tax based on recommendations from a bipartisan study of the state's entire tax system.
- The Public Library Financing and Support Committee determined that the loss libraries experienced through the repeal of the intangible personal property tax was equal to 6.3 percent of Ohio's personal income tax revenue. Therefore, 6.3 percent of Ohio's personal income tax receipts were earmarked for the Library and Local Government Support Fund (LLGSF).
- In 1991-1992, the LLGSF was frozen and $31.6 million in expected library revenue was lost.
- In 1993, the Ohio General Assembly reduced the LLGSF from 6.3 percent to 5.7 percent of Ohio's personal income tax revenue.
- From 1993 through December 2001, the LLGSF grew with the state economy and went from $284,700,000 to $496,458,342 in annual distributions.
Recent funding freeze and decline
- In 2001, as the national economy began to decline, the state's fiscal year biennium budget called for the LLGSF to be frozen at July 2000-June 2001 distribution levels.
- Library funding was reduced by an additional $10 million in 2003.
- In the 2004-2005 biennium budget, library funding remained frozen at 2002 distribution levels.
- Library funding was frozen as it had been since 2004 in the 2006-2007 budget.
- 2008 brought a new funding model as public libraries were slated to receive 2.22 percent of the state's total tax revenue, and the LLGSF was renamed the Public Library Fund (PLF).
2009-2011 biennium budget
- In 2009, Governor Ted Strickland proposed reducing state library funding by 30 percent on top of an anticipated 20 percent reduction in state funding. This would have resulted in a 50 percent funding reduction and meant that many small public libraries, which are totally reliant on state funding, could have closed.
- Library patrons and supporters expressed their outrage at this proposal by flooding the statehouse with thousands of e-mails a day.
- This outcry saved public libraries from the most drastic of cuts. In the budget, as signed by Governor Strickland on July 17, 2009, the funding formula for the Public Library Fund was temporarily reduced to 1.97 percent of the general tax revenue (as opposed to the original 2.22 percent).
- The majority of funding for Worthington Libraries (70 percent) comes from two local property tax levies: a 2.2 mill 22-year operating levy passed in 1992 (set to expire in 2014) and a 2.6 mill permanent operating levy passed in 2005.
- Even so, the reduction in the PLF resulted in an approximate 11 percent funding reduction in funding received from the state for Worthington Libraries.
- The loss for Worthington Libraries' state funding in 2009 and 2010, when compared to the previous biennium, was $1.1 million.
2011-2013 Biennium Budget
- Governor Kasich implemented a five percent reduction in the Public library Fund in each of the next two years based on the amount received in FY2011.
- This will result in a projected revenue loss of $448,610 Worthington Libraries.
- Despite a tremendous increase in use, Ohio's public libraries are now being funding at a rate comparable to what they received in 1996.
As funding declines, demand for service increases
- More than 90,000 people are registered borrowers of Worthington Libraries.
- In 2011, annual user visits to the Library totaled 1.5 million and website visits hit one million.
- The Library circulated more than 3.4 million items in 2011. Worthington Libraries ranks ninth in the state in terms of circulation, behind only the eight metropolitan library systems.
- The Library provides 209 computers for public use, which are used by job seekers to write resumes, apply for unemployment and to fill out online job applications.
- More than 7,000 children and teens participated in the library's 2011 summer reading program.
- More than 53,000 people attended library programs in 2011.
- The library's Homework Help Center, located in the Worthington Park Library, provides children with one-on-one homework assistance during the school year. Use of this service increased 60 percent in 2011.
The library's response
We have actively worked to:
- Streamline operations. We regularly analyze staffing plans and have reorganized the staff numerous times to better manage workflow and handle changing patterns of library use without increasing spending or creating new positions.
- Focus spending. We focus spending on providing patrons with the materials and services they need and look for ways to reduce other costs. In 2011, we spent 62 percent of our budget on salaries and benefits. The national average for state and government employers is 65 percent and, in private industry, the average is 71 percent. In addition, we spend 20 percent of our annual budget on materials. This is considered the "gold standard" for library operations. The national average for materials spending in public libraries is closer to 13 percent.
- Engage the community. Our 2010-2012 Strategic Plan was developed in partnership with the City of Worthington and the Worthington Schools. In addition, we regularly partner with the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, Worthington Food Pantry, McConnell Arts Center and many other community organizations in the presentation of library programs and outreach initiatives
- Use more volunteers. In 2011, volunteers contributed nearly 9,000 hours of service to Worthington Libraries. This is a 46 percent increase over hours contributed in 2010.
rev. June 2012