BOWLING GREEN - Roxanna Clark of Millbury never has set foot in the Wood County District Public Library here, but she will support a 0.32-mill bond issue to renovate it anyway.
“Reading is one of the most important things we can do,” said Ms. Clark, who typically uses the Oregon branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
Wood County library officials are hoping residents from Northwood to Hoytville take that same attitude when they go to the polls Aug. 7 to vote on a $5 million, 25-year bond issue. The money would help pay for a nearly $6 million expansion and renovation of the library on North Main Street, which was built in 1974. The library plans to increase parking, convert its outdoor courtyard to an indoor reading lounge, build a two-story addition onto the back, add an after-hours meeting room, and make elevators and restrooms handicapped-accessible.
While the library is primarily used by residents in and around Bowling Green, the library district takes in areas of the county that are all over the map. The district includes, for example, taxpayers in the Perrysburg school district who live outside the city limits in Middleton and Perrysburg townships.
It includes the Wood County portions of Anthony Wayne, Gibsonburg, Lake, Lakota, McComb, and Patrick Henry school districts. It dips south into the Wood County portion of the Fostoria city schools that are outside the city limits, and it covers the entire Bowling Green City School District, which extends as far west as Custar and Milton Center.
The library district is so big that the county auditor initially overestimated the millage needed to raise $5 million.
“There was a misunderstanding about our territory,” said Elaine Paulette, library director. “I think those boundaries are confusing, so the population difference from the boundaries reduced the millage.”
That's good news for taxpayers. Ms. Paulette said that if the bond issue passes, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $9.81 a year.
This is the first time the district has requested a tax levy. It operates almost exclusively on state income tax revenue. In 2000, it received more than $1.67 million from the state and $47,006 from local fines and fees.
Before going to voters, the library spent the last year raising private funds. Ms. Paulette said $726,000 has been raised - $1,000 more than the library's goal.
No one who was interviewed in the northern part of Wood County said he or she was aware of the special election; none said he or she uses the library in Bowling Green.
“I didn't even know the Wood County library was in Bowling Green,” said Ryan Bowen, a barber in Millbury. “I don't think I'd vote for that because I don't use the darn thing.”
Juanita Zunk of Walbridge said she probably will support the bond issue because she patronizes the small library branch the Wood County library operates in her town. The only other “branch” is in Bradner.
“I use the library in Walbridge all the time,” Ms. Zunk said. “I get books from Bowling Green a lot. You can order them and in a couple days, they're there.”
Ms. Paulette explained that while the libraries in Grand Rapids, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Wayne, Rossford, Perrysburg, and Weston are independent of the Wood County district library, all use the same automated catalog system.