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Published: Tuesday, 5/26/2009

Program to help buy materials in summer at Harris-Elmore Public Library


With state tax income revenues continuing to fall, the Harris-Elmore Public Library is launching an "adopt-a-book" program to help purchase library materials this summer.

The Elmore library gets virtually all of its funding from the state's Public Library Fund, and with income and sales taxes declining, a drop of up to 20 percent from last year's $462 million statewide payout is expected.

Hours and staff time already were trimmed at the library after earlier state projections showed a 7 percent to 8 percent decline was expected, and more cuts - such as closing on Saturdays - was not a good option, said Georgiana Huizenga, library director.

"We didn't want to hurt the public any more than we have to," Ms. Huizenga said. "In times like now, people need the libraries."

The library hopes to cut about $8,000 from its $76,000 annual budget for new books and other materials by having patrons participate in the "adopt-a-book" program, Ms. Huizenga said. Its total annual budget is less than $500,000 a year, she said.

Those who want to participate in the program can make monetary donations, or they can purchase new books or DVDs. Those who opt to purchase materials should check with the library to make sure the item has not already been ordered, Ms. Huizenga said.

In December, the Ohio Department of Taxation had estimated the Public Library Fund would have nearly $420 million this year, down 9 percent from 2008.

At the beginning of the year, the library trimmed a half hour from each weekday by closing at 8 p.m., and it cut two hours from Saturdays by closing at 3 p.m., Ms. Huizenga said. It also raised prices on photocopies and eliminated some new reference books, opting to have people use the Internet instead, she said.

"We thought that we'd be able to stave it off, and we were able to save some money that way," Ms. Huizenga said.

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