NILES - Supporters of the Niles McKinley Memorial Library are hoping that voters will understand its need for more money and support a 1.5 mill levy in November's general election, so it can resume the majority of services it has been reducing over the last two years ago.
The 1.5 mill levy is expected to raise $391,000 a year for the next five years.
"A couple years ago we had a budget of about $1.1 million," Patrick Finan, the library's director, said. "Next year, we are projecting a $ 700,000 budget."
The library receives the majority of its funding from Ohio and because of the state government's own budget shortfalls it has been reducing the amount it has been sending to all libraries.
Because Finan estimates the state will have an $8 billion budget shortfall next year, he expects state funding to libraries continue to erode.
"Ohio and Hawaii are the only two states where the majority of library funding are provided by state governments," Finan said. "In most other states library funding is provided through local governments and levies."
"We've lost about 30 percent of our library funding in the last several years," Finan said.
To adjust to the lower funding, Finan said the library's staffing has been reduced from 17 full time employees to 10, it is closed on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings, it has eliminated some children and adult programming and it has reduced material spending from $280,000 a year to about $100,000 a year.
"We are purchasing fewer books, newspapers, magazines and other materials," Finan said. "We have put off purchasing new computers for public use."
Finan says an increasing percentage of libraries across the state and in Trumbull county have asked local voters for additional funding support to offset state funding losses.
If the levy campaign is successful, Finan expects to put more money into buying books, DVDs, CDs, newspapers, magazines and other popular materials. In addition, the library will begin looking at purchasing one or two more public-use computers and, beginning in January, will stay open on Wednesday evenings.
"We've seen a reduction in the amount of funds we are receiving at a time when library use has been increasing," he said. "We are experiencing more people using our computers for their job searches and to contact friends and relatives."
Finan said more than 50 percent of the state's libraries now have operating levies.
"In Trumbull county, three of seven libraries - Hubbard, Warren-Trumbull and Newton Falls - libraries have passed operating levies," he said..
Girard is also seeking local levy support to continue operation of their libraries in this election.
The library will place a billboard in the city asking for public support, do community mailings and have at least two open houses. The first open house is scheduled to take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m., Sept. 25. The second open house is scheduled to take place 1 to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 31.
Residents will be able to tour the library, ask questions about its operations and questions about the levy.