Edward Wallace, 13, makes use of the Pemberville Library, which needs to expand its space on East Front Street and make improvements to two branches in Luckey and Stony Ridge.
PEMBERVILLE - There was a time when local libraries needed more room, they saved their pennies until they had enough money to pay for the work.
Increasingly, with fewer operating dollars from the state and the growing demand for services by the public, more libraries have turned to taxpayers for extra support.
The Pemberville Public Library plans to seek its first-ever tax levy to expand its cramped 5,500-square foot location on East Front Street and make improvements at its two small branches in Luckey and Stony Ridge. Residents of the Eastwood Local Schools will decide the issue in November.
Long-time Director Jane Kohlenberg said she thinks the community will be supportive.
"I believe that we have a lot of faithful users who know that we are a supplement to the education of the school system, and we think people want to live in communities where there are good libraries," she said.
Perrysburg, Rossford, and the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green each have sought tax levies in recent years.
Elaine Paulette, director of the Wood County District library, said that as state funding continues to shrink, she wouldn't be surprised to see more of the small libraries like Pemberville following suit. Adding to the budget crunch, she said, is an increased need for services.
"In economic downturns, libraries are busier than ever because as people lose jobs or are looking for new jobs, they don't purchase books as often. They cancel magazine and newspaper subscriptions. They're using our computers to go on-line to look for jobs," she said. "When the washing machine breaks they don't call a repair service. They check out a book on making those repairs."
In Pemberville, Ms. Kohlenberg said the library and its two branches circulated more than 100,000 items last year. That figure doesn't include the public's use of computers or research material that does not circulate such as genealogical materials.
The 1-mill levy would generate $182,000 a year for five years - enough to add about 3,000 square feet for a bigger children's area, a larger local history room, and more quiet reading and study areas. The money also would be used to install new lighting and a new front entrance, and repair the roof at Pemberville.
"We don't have a lot of places for people to sit down and read a newspaper or magazine," she said, scanning the crowded library. "We don't have a lot of places for kids to sit and do homework."
At the Stony Ridge branch, the library would add a meeting room and make other improvements. It also would add computers at the Luckey branch, which is a rented facility.
Dan Zeek, a Pemberville resident who uses the library about once a week, said he thinks the community will support the levy.
"For a small library, I think they do a pretty good job," he said.
Way Public Library in Perrysburg was the first library in Wood County to seek tax support when it went to voters in 1999 with a 27-year, 1.58-mill bond issue that raised $7.8 million to renovate and double the size of that library.
Perrysburg voters also approved a four-year, 1-mill operating levy for the library in March, 2004, that enabled it to restore Sunday hours and other services that had been reduced.
The Wood County District Public Library sought its first and only tax levy in August, 2001, when voters approved a 25-year, 0.32-mill bond issue that generated $5 million toward a renovation and expansion project.
In November, 2002, Rossford voters approved a 5-year, 1-mill levy for local library that provided both operating dollars and money to put toward expansion and renovation at the library.
In each case, voters approved the requests by comfortable margins.
"I think people love their libraries and they understand the importance of a library to a community, to education and to economic development," Ms. Paulette said. "It's also the only service that has the potential to serve absolutely every resident. There's no other agency that can reach everyone from the youngest baby to the people who live well into their 100s."
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