LIBRARY PROJECT New Middletown sets community meeting

A local contribution is necessary to make the library a reality.
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- A community meeting is planned for 7 p.m. April 21 at St. Paul the Apostle Church, state Route 170, to gauge community support for a new library.
The meeting will include presentations on why New Middletown was chosen for library expansion, the history of the project, fund-raising ideas from other communities and suggestions for community action. There will be a question and answer session and an opportunity for public comment. In addition, information will be available on forming a Friends of the Library group here. Plans for the building renovation will also be available for inspection.
An ad hoc committee originating out of the New Middletown Village Council met Thursday with officials of the Mahoning County Library Association at St. Paul's rectory to set the agenda for the meeting. Those attending included the Rev. Nicholas Shori, pastor of St. Paul's, Carlton Sears, director of the Mahoning County Libraries; Deborah Liptak, development director for Mahoning County Libraries; New Middletown Mayor Robert Carson; New Middletown Council member Ruth Miller, and community members Nancy Tablack of New Middletown and Michele DeRhodes and Georgie Shane of Springfield Township.
Sears said the library association has already bought the former Heaven Sent building on state Route 170 for $225,000 for the new library. However, bids for remodeling the building came in at $130,000, significantly higher than expected. The project has been revised to cut costs by about half. It has been re-advertised and the new bids will be opened May 4.
Sears said that while two communities -- North Lima and Lowellville -- lost their libraries in the last assessment of community needs, New Middletown was chosen for library expansion because of high per capita use of the current library. In addition, he said this area is second only to Canfield in county population growth. New Middletown's library, open three days a week, has been located in one room in the village administration building for at least 25 years. Before that, the village was served by a bookmobile.
Local contribution
But even though the library association is committed to establishing a library here and has earmarked funds for the project, Sears said a local contribution is required for every new library in the county. Community input and commitment to raising funds also determine what type of library it will have.
He said the county library association receives 85 percent of its funding from the Ohio personal income tax but cuts are expected because of the state budget crisis. The remainder of library funding comes from a 0.6-mill county levy and community-generated income.
Carson commented that the project presents a challenge to a small community because the fund raising is not school or village-related. However, Tablack commented that the Springfield Baseball Association, an independent organization, successfully raised money to build a large baseball complex on state Route 170. Father Shori added that because of the size of the community, many doubted his congregation could build its now 6-year-old church.
Sears said that libraries are not intended to serve only the community where they are located, but rather to serve a region of the county.

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