The deed has been done.
A substantial budget cut for Ohios libraries quickly affected our own local systems with cuts not only in staffing, but in hours and services to the public. The 11 percent cut in funding came on the heels of a 20 percent cut earlier this year.
Of the 251 library systems in Ohio, making up 720 buildings, Trumbull County has seven. Each one either has been making plans for the eventual cuts or they are currently meeting with their boards of directors to discuss how to shave several thousand dollars off their budgets, yet still provide as much in the way of services they can possibly afford.
As an avid reader looking to make economic cuts along with everyone else, at the beginning of this year, I put myself on a book-buying moratorium. Instead, I have been seeking out the services of local libraries, not only for reading and research material, but for audio books that I enjoy listening to in my car during my travels throughout the various Trumbull County communities I frequent for my job. And I am only one person.
To get a head start on things, the Niles McKinley Library began its cuts earlier this year when it began closing on Sundays. Now the library will shorten its hours even more by closing at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On those days, if you get an urge for a quick trip to the library after dinner, or if , when school starts, your child has an upcoming assignment that requires a bit of research, youd better be thinking ahead.
In addition to the eight hours we will be losing each week, the staff has been reduced. Library administrators also have made cuts in materials, which means that book youve been waiting to check out, just might not be available from your library. Instead, you may have to wait while it comes in from another facility.
This might not be a horrible inconvenience to most people. After all, we should be lucky that our libraries are still open at all.
This is not the first time funding cuts have compromised our libraries. In the early 1990s, state library funding was frozen due to a compromised economy. They did, however, bounce back and it is likely they will bounce back again from this as well.
We just need to be patient. Our libraries are too important for us to lose. According to the Ohio Library Council, more than 180,000 items were checked out of Ohio's libraries in 2007. I would feel confident in saying those numbers have increased in the past year by people like me who have recently been using the library even more.