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Our libraries need support of state funds

Ohio residents who spent the past year relying on the resources available through their local public libraries may be surprised to learn the state Legislature is looking at cutting funding to libraries by approximately $22 million per year. Should the state Senate’s version of the budget prevail, the Public Library Fund will continue to be 1.7 percent of the General Revenue Fund. If the House version wins out on the matter, that 1.7 percent will be eliminated.

For a system the size of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, for example, that amounts to a loss of approximately $1.5 million, according to CEO Patrick Losinski, who spoke with another media outlet. That would mean the loss of 30 percent or so of the CML’s annual budget — cuts would have to be made in book purchases, technology available to the public, building maintenance and even staff.

“Particularly around children who have suffered educational losses from school and then people trying to get back on their feet around unemployment, generally speaking that’s when libraries are going to see more services,” Losinski told WBNS.

Of course not every public library system in Ohio would see the same dollar amount lost as Columbus might suffer. But the effects would be similar. At a time when Buckeye State residents most need the resources available through our public libraries, those resources could be significantly diminished.

Lawmakers have tough choices to make in sorting out Ohio’s budget before the end of the month. Deciding whether to give the Public Library Fund all the financial support it is due should be a no-brainer.

editorial@vindy.com

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