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Published: Wednesday, 7/16/2008

Perrysburg's Way Library asks voters to approve levy

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Nancy Kelley, director of the Way Public Library in Perrysburg, is optimistic voters will approve the library's 1.5-mill levy request on the Aug. 5 ballot.

She said the library has a corps of supporters who have mobilized to get the word out about the importance of adopting the tax, which would replace a 1-mill levy expiring at the end of the year and generate $326,000 more for library operations.

Library supporters have donated about $2,400 that is being spent on a low-key levy campaign that includes a brochure mailing, yard signs, and a Web site (www.supportyourlibrary.info).

They'll also man a phone bank that will call all registered adult voters in the city who have used the library in the past year.

Way is a very popular institution in Perrysburg. But gas prices are high, the economy is sagging, and the special August election holds some uncertainty.

Ms. Kelley said she's hoping the change in Ohio election law that permits the use of an absentee ballot for any reason will help. "We encourage our supporters to vote absentee because they can be so busy this time of year with vacations."

The only other issues on the Wood County ballot are levy requests from the Lake Local andAnthony Wayne Local schools, and turnout is expected to be pretty light, said Terry Burton, a director at the county board of elections.

So far, his office has received only 28 requests for absentee ballots for August voting, he said.

"A lot of times in the summer, elections get by people pretty easily. They have a lot going on, and they don't think in the election mode," Mr. Burton said.

Library officials had planned to go to the voters in March but were forced to drop this idea because the city sent a ballot with faulty language to the elections board.

Perrysburg sent the ballot language to the elections board because it is the library's taxing authority. Only city residents pay the library levy.

If approved, the four-year, 1.5-mill levy would generate $840,000 annually, representing about 39 percent of the municipal library's operating budget.

It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $46 a year, compared to the $31 annual cost of the library's current 1-mill operating levy. The special election is estimated to cost the library about $20,000.

Way has been on a roll in recent years. Last summer, Ms. Kelley was named Ohio Librarian of the Year by the Ohio Library Council, and in 2006 Way was deemed the fourth best library in the country in its size category by Hennen's American Public Library Ratings.

If the levy is adopted, the library will add a full-time librarian for the young adult department, which caters to children 11 to 14 years old. Currently, reference librarian Wendie Kiskaddon doubles in that position.

The library also would add a clerical position, and be able to expand some of its popular programs, Ms. Kelley said.

"Topical Tuesday," an evening program, drew 160 people a few weeks ago to hear a specialist talk about Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and the war on terror. A League of Women Voters Town Hall Meeting drew a similarly large crowd.

The library has two film series, Reel Art, which shows foreign and art films, and Reel Talk, which features classic movies and a discussion.

"We recognize that a lot of people are pinched now because of the economy," said library spokesman Mary Meyer. "We are an institution that can help fill their needs with books, movies, and computers."



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