Funding for the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library amounts to $23.15 per person residing in the areas it serves. Funding for the Bristol Public Library amounts to $106.04 per person residing in the area it serves. The quantity of products and services available at the county library far surpasses what is available in Bristol.
Little else better demonstrates the advantage in ''economy of scale.''
Something needs to be done.
The county library board voted Thursday to challenge the Trumbull County Budget Commission ruling to maintain Warren's 50 percent local share of the Public Library Fund for 2013. The Warren system requested 59.4 percent of the $6.6 million available next year from the state.
Its appeal will go to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals in Columbus.
Bristol and Kinsman Free Library protested Warren's request, saying any loss in state funds would put their existences at risk.
There's no reason to doubt that. The services provided by local libraries is expensive. They quench the reading appetites of people, especially children. They are ideal for job seekers or students from homes without computers. There's a plethora of free materials and services, including in Bristol which we used as an example not because there's a flaw in its service. We use the example to show the value of size.
We would never advocate the closing of any public library. The example above shows the advantage if Trumbull's libraries - including Girard Free, Hubbard Public, McKinley Memorial and Newton Falls Public - remained open under a single administration. The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library's branches in Howland, Liberty, Cortland, Lordstown and Brookfield all operate more efficiently than the independent libraries.
In 2010, we advised all of Trumbull's library boards to begin preparing for this day. At the time, state funding decreased annually for six years in a row and Gov. Ted Strickland was leaving an $8 billion deficit in the state budget. Surely more cuts were coming.
Trumbull's libraries were not prepared for a consolidation in 2010. Circulation systems were not all compatible. Nobody conducted a cost-benefit analysis of nearby buildings such as Liberty and Girard or Hubbard and Brookfield.
Since then, every library in the county passed a tax increase. Clearly, not enough progress has been made over the past two years for the libraries to find a way to work together to more efficiently serve their patrons.