The Hubbard Public Library board of directors has decided to place a 1.9 mill operating levy on the May 4 ballot after facing nearly a decade of state funding cuts.
According to the board, since 2001, library funding has decreased by more than $1 million while circulation and program attendance rose to record high levels.
Last year, the library was forced to make cuts in staff, programs and hours of operation after the budget was once again hit with nearly $300,000 in state funding. As a result, library hours have been reduced by one-third and the library was forced close its doors on Fridays. On Saturdays, the library closes at 1:30 p.m.
Nine staff positions were eliminated and the remaining staff members have taken a reduction in pay.
However, In spite of the reduced hours and with more than 50 percent reduction in the library's materials budget, circulation continues to increase.
''Our usage is still climbing and our patrons are still trying to get in here,'' said Sherry Ault, library director. ''I feel badly about the curtailed access to information due to our cuts in hours.'' she said.
According to Ault, the library's public access computers are in constant use by jobseekers, resume writers, high school and college students, student aid applicants, tax filers, and those who need access to various e-government services.
''Many people use our computers to apply for jobs online, particularly since many employers don't accept paper applications any longer,'' Ault said. ''These are the very people who don't have access to home computers or high speed Internet,'' she said.
Before the library had to cut its hours and close on Fridays, there were more than 24,000 log-ons registered for the library's computers, Ault said. With shortened time available, patrons are still trying to get in to use the computers, she said.
The Hubbard Public Library Levy Committee, co-chaired by Sue Kelley, John Manhollan and Jackie Orlando, said they are asking individuals, businesses, teams, unions, foundations and societies to contribute to the cost of campaigning for the levy.
''We can not pass this levy without the support of those who value the library's services,'' the committee wrote in a recent press release.
Donations can be made payable to "Hubbard Public Library Levy Committee" and sent to: HPL Levy Committee, P.O. Box 354, 380 Parkview Drive, Hubbard, OH 44425. Contributions cannot be anonymous. Names and complete addresses must be given. All donations other than individuals must have a contact name included for report purposes.
Volunteers are also needed to help with the campaign. Those interested are asked to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the board, 47 percent of Ohio's public libraries are now supported by local levies and more than 70 percent of the population of Trumbull County currently pays for at least one library operating levy.
The Hubbard Public Library has never had an operating levy, Ault said.