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Help keep the library lights on

By Tyler S. Clark (Contact)

Published September 21, 2009

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County has been forced to cut back its hours, due to reduced state funding. The process by which the library determined how to implement the cutbacks is illustrative of its continuing commitment to serve Valley residents.

When I visited with library director Carlton Sears in his office this summer when the reductions were announced, he showed me a chart of numbers. Each library branch tracks the number of visiting patrons during each hour of the day. All of these numbers were laid out in front of Sears, and this data was used to pick the branches' least trafficked times for cutbacks.

Funding for Ohio’s libraries is determined by a formula that ties a percentage of the state’s general revenues. Revenues have plunged in the current economy, leaving libraries wondering what lies ahead. Compared with 2008 funding levels, 20% of state revenue has been lost since January of 2009. Another 30% cut has been proposed on top of that for this year, with further expected cuts of 47% in 2010 and 45% in 2011.  

West Side residents, faced with the prospect of their branch's closing, took matters into their own hands to raise money to directly support the library. We can all join together and approve the $1 million, five-year levy on the November 3 ballot.

In these times of economic uncertainty and record unemployment, our libraries are needed more than ever, to support those pursuing continuing education and those using the library's facilities to search for jobs. Check the latest hours for your branch, and consider donating to the library if you can. 

The library is managing their part responsibly by ensuring it's available when we use it the most. It's time for us to do our part in keeping the lights on. 


1valleyred(1103 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

They had to cut back these hours due to Ted Strickland. Vote him out in 2010.

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2ytownoptimist(86 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

We all need to show Columbus that we use the library system to prove its value in our area. There is a great website that can be utilized to reserve books which also notifies you when they are ready for pickup or need to be returned. http://catalog.libraryvisit.org/ This is a great way for your local branch to show quantitative #'s of usage & proof that hours need to be extended. In this economy, save money by using the library for DVDs & books. Take your children there instead of Barnes & Noble to begin their love affair with reading.

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3hellsbells(116 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Pro, using the internet connection at the library is so popular that users have to reserve time at a maximum of 1 hour.

Now is it your assertion that these people just come to the library because they prefer traveling to another location for an hour of use to pushing a button in their own home offices?

It is exactly the "over-taxed, honest American citizens who probably got married before they had children, support their families and themselves," and probably are making mortgage and car payments on time, WHO NEED LIBRARIES THE MOST, because of a lack of disposable income.

I wish the good fairy would grant my wish of allowing you to live a low income life, so you could find out if you really enjoy the list of goodies in your post.

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4tylersclark(182 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

ProAmerican, your rhetoric is unhelpful. Library supporters also believe in liberty, the Constitution, capitalism and the Republic. People of goodwill can disagree about domestic spending priorities without being lumped in with ACORN or Rush Limbaugh.

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5hellsbells(116 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Okay, let me say this again. It is the tax-paying, mortgage paying, responsible citizen who uses the library the most.

Really, Pro, do you imagine the Public Library as a place where club-hopping, drug dealers like to hang out?

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6cambridge(4136 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

hellsbells.....ProMerkin imagines a lot of things.

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7tylersclark(182 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

To call the library out on not taking the time to seek out every little mention of them and put themselves into the debate is kind of silly. Clearly, they have better things to do.

To imagine that the hard-working people who do use the library in droves haven't justified its continued support is curious, as well. In this top-down economy, just because someone is hard-working, tax-paying and decent doesn't mean they can afford to rely on private rather than public services.

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8tylersclark(182 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

What I said in the blog post was that the library was making decisions based on the input and demonstrated behavior patterns of their patrons. I'm not sure what more you're looking for from them, but I would be interested to hear specifics.

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9redvert(2240 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

To add to what ProAmerican said about taxes, I grew up in Ohio but am now a Florida resident where I retired. I now spend 6 months in Florida (winter) and 6 in Ohio (summer). Currently my total 6 month everyday expenses (Water, gas, electricity etc.) is 380 dollars more in Florida than Ohio. That is due to outrageous property Insurance. That difference will disappear next month as I change insurance carriers. What amazed me was when I found out that a good friend here in Ohio pays a tax in the city where he works along with a city tax where he lives plus a state and federal tax. FOUR TAXES! Unbelievable! I have always paid federal tax only which is how it should be.

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10leaveusalone(103 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

In my eyes, a public library has always been a secular temple, symbolizing the highest values of a civilized society - a place where any citizen can enter and through their own best efforts, become a more educated, thoughtful, and involved human being. Thus, despite being a fiscal conservative, with little love for most government run programs, I've always felt the public library was one institution that deserved support. That said, it must still deal with economic realities. Here are a few of my suggestions to help keep the lights on:
1. Turn some of the lights OFF. And, of course, modify the temperature controls. I'm sure some of this is being done - but more can always be done in this area. The day after the initial announcement that the state was going to cut funds, I walked into the main library and saw a librarian working in a sweater - the a.c. had the place so cold! Now that the weather is growing colder, the sweaters should come on, and the heat lowered. Plastic over the huge windows, if that will help conserve the heat. It may be tacky looking, but not as tacky looking as a closed down building.

2. As much as I like the library workers, and don't wish to see any of them unemployed, it's probably time to employ more volunteer workers. There are plenty of local citizens who would love helping in the library. Every task in the library does not require a trained librarian.

3. There are SOME fees that could be imposed - and that would be reasonable. For example, a very modest fee of something like 25 or 50 cents per hour to use the internet; $1.00 per night to rent brand new movies (look how many people are using RedBox) Or perhaps the library could have RedBox install a machine - and receive commissions from it? A small daily rental fee for brand new, eagerly anticipated new fiction. A modest rental fee for meeting rooms. The library could sell newspapers - for example, the Wall Street Journal; the New York Times. There could be a coffee stand (note, I don't think we need to wait for a full blown coffee shop) in the main atrium area. A gift shop, with both new and used books, music and book related items - it need not be elaborate, but there's plenty of times when I've needed a book store item, but hadn't wanted to drive out to the suburbs to get it. If the library has a book repair department, perhaps they can offer repair services to the public at a modest price.

I like Yshrimp's idea of a community center, and the library would be ideal for that.

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11hellsbells(116 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I don't think that "leaveusalone" is advocating privatizing libraries, just looking for some ways to save.
Some of his/her ideas are already in place in the Poland library: Gift Store/Coffee stand, etc.

It could be a problem to have volunteers do such tasks as check books in or out, because there are financial disputes that can arise from doing this incorrectly. And I wouldn't want volunteers putting books on the shelves, because once a book is placed incorrectly, it could remain lost for quite a while.

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12TAXEDOFF(118 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I can't believe all the comments from Ron He. never pays his taxes!! He's commenting about taxes. While this city would be 1000 times better off if he'd just paid his taxes

I'm glad you did your homework on shrimp but you should've done more homework on Mr. Ron Einstein!!!
The important word in this story is investors and
the only facts that are clear are the ones from the Mahoning County Auditor's website and the ones from the Ohio Secretary of State.

Ron Eiselstein has 50 records of lawsuits on the Mahoning County Clerk of Courts website, all but one in which he is the defendant. Many are judgements for money that remain open. He owes money to the city of Youngstown for demolition in the thousands according to the clerk of courts website.

He is also affiliated with Firepearl, which has 20 records listed, again as the defendant, and many are judgements for money that remain open.

Aside from numerous tax LIENS under his name. He also has many listed under this name Caraga Ltd.the following pages from the Ohio Secretary of State shows his name as the statutory agent.


Mail Information


This link shows the secretary of state info


Numerous tax liens under that name are listed here

Some back ground on Ron:

Aside from his shrimp farms scheme, which by the way he's looking for investors. He also is in a club called the Inventors Club they meet at the Poland Library once a month. I refer to it as the Scammers Club their main function is to meet potential investors and show off their inventions [SCAMS]

One of the members of this club is a Mr. Bob Jadloski. together with Ron's encouragement many people invested $3000 into a hydrogen car project

Date Line video enclosed here shows what a scam that was


I can see why Ron likes Traficant two peas in a pod

I think you owe it to the members of this community that you expose Ron
before he hurts your groups credibility and all that good works, you're trying to do.

I realize Ron must be upset at me for exposing his facts. But they are, what they are, court records

Please follow the links and you'll stay away from any project that he's involved in



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13cambridge(4136 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

TAXEDOFF.....Are you sure that youngstownshrimp is this Ron person? I took your advice and looked up that name in the Mahoning County Courts and there is a list of litigation as long as my arm.

This can't possibly be the same person because youngstownshrimp was nice enough to let me in on the fact that he was a life long "business man" and any financial success that I've achieved was nothing more than luck. Never having been involved in any litigation myself I found this information shocking.

I began looking up to him as a mentor and now I read what you and others have said about him and I can't help but believe you have him confused with someone else.

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14Ytownboy(142 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Tyler, with due respect, you needed to dig deeper to find out why the libraries of today are almost obsolete.

Boy are you wrong on that one. Without a good library I couldn't do research for my classes. All kinds of things from Microform to J Store are at the library. These are not the kinds of research tools that are available at home.

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15leaveusalone(103 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

hi hellsbells - you are correct - I'm not advocating privatization - and I'm aware that some of what I suggest is already in place. In addressing your concerns about using volunteer help - I'd point out that the main library already has a self-serve check out system, which is, in effect, the equivalent of many "volunteers" checking out books. (and every time someone reserves, or renews a book online, they're, in effect, acting as a volunteer.) Your concern about financial disputes is understandable, but the circulation system is computerized and prints out paper receipts - and keeps records of all transactions. And as for volunteers putting books back in the wrong places - I have to say that almost every time I visit the library and browse the stacks, I find myself reshelving books that have been misplaced. So, whether the help is paid or volunteer, books sometimes go back in the wrong places. Many libraries across the country use volunteer help - as do many museums, hospitals, fire departments and other civic organizations - and they all seem to survive. Properly trained, a volunteer can save an organization tremendous amounts of money.

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16CarltonSears(1 comment)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I rarely look at these dialogues but felt that some perspective might be useful.

First, the actual number of people coming through the doors of Mahoning libraries has been going up; not down. It will be about 1.2 million people in 09; an 10% increase. That's about 3 times the total attendance at the Canfield Fair. Find out why libraries are seeing such large growth in use by checking out the library's website.

When it comes to discussing taxes and library service, know how much people actually pay in taxes for the library. In Mahoning libraries cost the owner of a property appraised at $100,000 about $2.97 a month. It's listed at near the very bottom of the tax bill; one of the lowest items. It's 1.5% of the total on mine. Libraries in Ohio also receive a 1.97% of State income and sales taxes. The amount has been gradually shrinking since 2000. But it wasn't until this year that people took note.

So what does a person get for their investment? Several states have done economic studies of this and found the ROI to be $4 to $7 for each $1 invested.

Most people don't know it but libraries in Mahoning are recognized when it comes to generating non-tax funds to support operations. Here are just two example. An honor-based system of selling donated books from carts operated by a team of volunteers raises $20,000+ a year. The money helps pay for the summer reading program. 4,900 children participated in it this summer. They read 33,000 hours. Cafes and meeting rooms have raised about half a million dollars since founded just a few years ago.

Libraries in Mahoning are also known for working collaboratively. In December the library here is being recognized nationally for an endeavor with 23 other organizations that over the past 2 years has brought back to Mahoning over $5 million in tax credits.

I mention all this simply to point out that there is a lot more to the library than most people think. If you look below the surface you'll find the library is intricately engaged in ways that are not often fully realized. As people discuss the library, it would be a good idea to learn more. You can do so at the library or on its website.

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17leaveusalone(103 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Sears, Thank you for your input - and for all that you do to lead the library system. I know that the library does a great deal with what it is given. Some of us are just hoping to brainstorm some more money saving or money generating ideas.

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18Education_Voter(1173 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for your comments, Mr. Sears.
The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County is an invaluable partner to schools throughout the Valley.
Some of their assistance in extending learning beyond the 3:00 p.m. bell include:

Reading programs, as Mr. Sears mentioned.

Partnership with the City Schools to make teachers and teaching aids available in city libraries as homework helpers. This program is currently being established and will be up and running soon.

Anyone using the internet is familiar with articles and books that are not fully available without expensive subscriptions. The library offers the full text of articles and books researchers need. Advanced library users are aware that the library has partners that will provide materials that our library does not own.

Mr. Sears and the library board have agreed, at least temporarily, to revisit the plan to close library branches such as the West Side Branch that have been a vital link for students that attend the schools in those neighborhoods. This response to community concerns should be recognized. At least in the neighborhoods where library access was threatened, citizens have realized the value of the library as something they are willing to raise funds for.

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