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Published: Thursday, 11/5/2009

30 Ohio library levies pass


COLUMBUS - Voters in a number of Ohio communities came to the aid of public libraries that have been cutting hours and staff because of state budget cuts.

Levies were approved Tuesday to support 30 library systems, including one of the state's largest. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County expects to receive $100 million over five years through a property tax measure that will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $30 a year.

"We are just so thankful that the community felt strongly enough about libraries that they were willing to give us this level of support and take on an additional tax to make sure we could keep our libraries open," said Kim Fender, the Cincinnati library's executive director.

Ms. Fender said defeat of the levy would have meant reduced hours and possible closure of half of the system's 40 branches.

Eight library measures passed in the Dayton area, including one to provide $13.6 million annually for the Dayton Metro Library. Director Tim Kambitsch says the vote confirms people think libraries are important.

The Ohio Library Council had estimated that at least 15 percent of the state's 251 systems had levies or a bond issue on Tuesday's ballot and said only seven levies and one bond issue failed.

The number of library levies on Tuesday's ballot was the highest number sought by libraries at one time in the 30 years the Ohio Library Council has kept records.

"This was an unprecedented show of support for libraries, particularly in this economic situation," said Douglas Evans, the council's executive director.

He said the losses were by slim margins, and he expects many of those library boards to ask again in the May election.

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