Check It Out!: Worthington Libraries' unique setup fosters collaboration

Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 10:02 am

During the recent election campaign, we received quite a few calls from voters with questions about Issue 4, the proposed operating levy to benefit the Columbus Metropolitan Library, which passed on November 2 with 66 percent of the vote.

Chuck Gibson

Check it Out! by Chuck Gibson appears regularly in the SNP/Worthington News.

Some residents in our service district were confused about why Issue 4 did not appear on their local ballots. While a few people were upset, as they intended to vote in favor of the proposed levy, others were relieved to learn the tax increase, if approved, would not apply to them.

These conversations let us know voters are puzzled about library service boundaries and our library's particular relationship with Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Public library boundaries in Ohio are generally defined by the law under which the library was originally established. There are six different types of libraries defined in the Ohio Revised Code: school district, county district, county, municipal, township and association.

Worthington Libraries was established as a school district public library in 1925. This means our library system, which includes Old Worthington Library, Northwest Library and Worthington Park Library, serves all residents in the Worthington School District, including those with a Columbus ZIP code. Residents of the Worthington School District, regardless of mailing address, are only eligible to vote on library issues proposed by Worthington Libraries.

Worthington Libraries is an independent library system with its own administrative staff and board of trustees. We are not part of the Columbus Metropolitan Library or any other system. We do, however, partner with other library systems to provide cooperative service, which reduces costs and provides patrons with greater access to materials.

We share a catalog with the Columbus Metropolitan Library and Southwest Public Libraries. This makes it possible for patrons to borrow and return any item from any library in our three systems. Worthington Libraries owns approximately one half million items, but we are able to provide patrons with access to nearly three million items through this resource sharing agreement.

We also partner with Columbus Metropolitan Library in the operation of Northwest Library. Northwest Library, which opened in 1996, sits on the border of the Worthington School District and Columbus Metropolitan Library service area. As such, it provides service to residents in both districts. Northwest Library is managed by Worthington Libraries, which means the staff is employed by Worthington Libraries and we are responsible for all programming, services and collection development. Columbus Metropolitan Library reimburses us each year for expenses incurred to serve residents of their district who use Northwest Library. It is the only public library building in the country to be operated by two distinct public library systems, and we are very proud of this unique example of collaboration.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the issues raised concerning library service boundaries. Additional information can be found on the State Library of Ohio's website (www.library.ohio.gov). If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me at cgibson@worthingtonlibraries.org.

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