Mayor Richard Teeple, left, talks with resident Tom Kern, who is upset at the announced closing of the Bradner branch of the Wood County Public Library, in the background. The mayor was trimming weeds around the building, which the village owns.
BRADNER, Ohio - When employees lock the doors behind them at the Bradner branch of the Wood County Public Library tomorrow, it will be for the last time.
That disappoints lifelong village resident John Linkey, who can't imagine Bradner without the library.
Citing light circulation numbers and materials that were underutilized, the Wood County libraries board of trustees decided to close the branch. The library's last day is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow.
“We hadn't used it all that much now, but I have a 1 and a 3-year-old and we planned to use it more as they grew older,” Mr. Linkey, 34, said.
Library Director Elaine Paulette said the library plans to maintain a presence in Bradner, though not in the form of a building. Instead, the Wood County Public Library will offer residents a bookmobile from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m. every Monday.
Ms. Paulette admits a bookmobile isn't the same as what is offered now but added that if there is a need, hours could be added.
“We had previously been in the back of the village hall and when we were able to move into the corner building we had hoped it would increase our visibility and the amount of use,” she said. “That really didn't happen.”
The decision to close the branch was made necessary by state cuts in the library budget, Ms. Paulette said. Libraries in Ohio are funded through the state income tax.
Wood County is working with a $1,555,000 budget. Closing the Bradner branch will save the library about $20,000 a year.
Ms. Paulette said the library tracked how many materials were checked out and at what times. Although only open for four hours daily during the week and for three hours on Saturday, there were many hours when nothing was checked out at all, she said.
“It was underutilized,” she said. “I think the village understands as well that state funding crunches affect everyone.”
Mayor Richard Teeple said he does not cast blame on library officials, but he said he wishes there was a way to persuade them to stay.
“It's another frustrating thing that's happened,” he said. “We've lost a lot of business in the last few years.”
Mr. Teeple points to the more transient population that has moved into Bradner, a village of 1,200, as one of the reasons local businesses are finding it hard to thrive.
But that, he said, is likely a result of the town's school district consolidating many years ago. Once the children started being bussed out of town for their education, prospective homebuyers began looking elsewhere, closer to the schools.
“Our population has become more `here today, gone tomorrow,'” he said. “When you go back to when the library was used a lot was when the population was more steady.”