The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library is an essential institution in this community. It provides education and literacy skills, entertainment and cultural uplift, free computer access, help with job searches, a repository of local history, a forum for public meetings, and many other critical services to a broad array of county residents.
To fulfill these vital missions, and to serve a user base that is larger than ever before, the library needs a firm financial foundation. County voters can ensure such strength and stability by voting YES on Issue 23, the library’s tax proposal on the fall ballot.
Issue 23 would authorize a five-year, 2.9-mill property tax for the library. That tax would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $88 a year. It consists of a renewal of the library’s current 2-mill levy and a 0.9-mill increase.
The proposed tax would provide nearly half of the library’s operating money. If voters approve it, library officials pledge to restore operating hours, materials, children’s programs, and staff that were cut in previous retrenchments.
By contrast, if voters reject the millage, officials warn of further cutbacks, including possible closings of some branch libraries. That can’t be allowed to happen.
As library funding has plummeted during the recession, public demands on the system and the costs of meeting them have grown. Library officials say they need the tax increase — which amounts to $27 a year for the typical homeowner — as well as the millage renewal to help offset slashes in state aid.
Such aid, which once provided three-fourths of the library’s operating budget, now accounts for less than half. The library got about as much money from Columbus in 1996 as it receives today.
Few other community institutions touch as many lives in Lucas County as the library does. Almost three-fourths of county residents have library cards. The typical resident visits the library more than six times a year.
In addition to maintaining its main library in downtown Toledo and 18 community branches, the system uses its bookmobile and computer-equipped cyber-mobile to reach out to residents. Its Web site is a global resource.
Far from being a dispensable luxury, the library pays its own way and then some. A recent University of Toledo study calculates that the library provides nearly three dollars in local economic value for every dollar it spends.
That’s a superior return on investment, and a key element of economic development. Of course, the library’s contributions to this community’s knowledge and enlightenment are incalculable.
Surveys make clear that the vast majority of Lucas County residents appreciate the library system’s reputation for excellence and agree that the library improves their quality of life. They now have a crucial opportunity to support a community resource that does so much to support them.
The library needs and deserves your help. Vote YES on Issue 23.