Director's Message - Fall 2013

Posted: Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 9:15 am

Have you heard the news? Worthington Libraries will be on the November 5 ballot with a 2.2 mill replacement levy request.

If passed, this will replace the 22-year 2.2 mill levy approved by Worthington School District voters in 1992. This expiring levy provides 22 percent of the library's annual revenue, and maintaining this source of funding is crucial to the library's ongoing ability to meet public demand for service.

At present, the owner of a $100,000 home in the Worthington School District pays $111.46 annually for Worthington Libraries. With the 2.2 mill replacement levy, this same homeowner will pay an additional $2.75 per month or $33.06 annually for library service. Though the millage is the same as it was in 1992, when the original levy was passed, it is now being collected at an effective rate of 1.25 mills. The replacement levy will bring collection in line with current assessed property value.

Worthington Libraries has not been on the ballot since 2005, when voters passed a permanent 2.6 mill operating levy. Since that time, library circulation has increased 32 percent and program attendance has increased 68 percent. Despite the increase in use, we have worked hard to reduce spending. The library's sound financial management has been recognized numerous times by the Auditor of State and the Government Finance Officers Association.

In 2012, the Library spent 62 percent of its budget on salaries and benefits. The national average for state and government employers is 65 percent, and for private industry, the average is 71 percent. In addition, the Library spends 20 percent of its annual operating budget on materials. This is considered the "gold standard" for library spending, but few libraries meet it. The national average for public libraries is 13 percent spent on materials each year.

The library board and staff developed our 2013-2015 Strategic Plan using extensive community feedback about the future direction of the Library. More than 500 people participated in the planning process and they helped craft a vision for a new kind of library: one that meets current demands for information and technology while embracing the future and providing people with resources and space to develop, learn and grow in new ways. With secure funding, we will be the library of the future.

If you have any questions about the levy or library funding in general, please drop me a line. I can be reached at 614-807-2601 or cgibson@worthingtonlibraries.org.

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