Ohio Governor Threatens Drastic 50% Cut
to its Libraries
Last week Ohio Governor Ted Strickland made headlines when he announced his intentions to reduce state funding to its public libraries by fifty percent as a means to balance the state budget. The public outrage was immediate as Ohioans rallied for its libraries in public demonstrations, as well as an onslaught of phone calls and emails to the governor's office. According to the Ohio Library Council, such a dramatic reduction in funds would force the state to start closing libraries.
As states struggle to balance their budgets with decreased federal funding and tax income, many are looking to reduce funding to their libraries. But president of the American Library Association Jim Rettig recently stated about the situation in Ohio, "A projected 50 percent reduction in funding for Ohio’s libraries would result in unprecedented national disaster. We understand that in a recession difficult choices must be made, but libraries are part of the solution when a community is struggling economically, and are a necessity in efforts to get Americans back on their feet. From coast to coast, libraries have been first responders to the national economic crisis. They have been inundated by job seekers and users looking to better their lives through education. This also is the case in Ohio, as Ohioans are depending on their local libraries for free Internet access, employment services, personal finance resources, small business development and education and cultural programs." Read more at "Ted Strickland Vilified for Proposed Cuts to Ohio Public Libraries."
In the meantime, the Ohio Senate is considering less drastic cuts to library funding. As of this morning, the Associate Press reports that "the $227 million in library cuts proposed by Gov. Ted Strickland would be reduced by two-thirds." The Ohio Library Council noted that a lesser reduction in funds might prevent them from having to close libraries. In fact, Lynda Murray of the Ohio Library Council said about the latest budget plan, "That's something we can live (with), but people will still see a drop in services." Read more at "Less cuts proposed in new budget."
The ALA is constantly tracking issues related to library funding. For the latest updates on school, public, and federal library funding, refer to "Funding News @ Your Library" on the ALA website.