As Ohio Voters Face Library Levies, AV Fuels a Debate in Cincinnati
Levy opponent says library should charge $1; newspaper supports levy, but with reservations
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 10/30/2009
- 11 of 41 Cincinnati branches circulate more AV
- Could fee raise $6.9 million?
- Other libraries face levies
A Cincinnati Enquirer report that 11 of 41 branches of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (PLCHC) circulate more videos than books has become part of a heated debate about a local levy for the library, which, like numerous libraries across Ohio, is asking local taxpayers to contribute more in the wake of cuts in state funding.
Former state Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., in an Enquirer op-ed, groused, “Overspending for guest speakers, free book giveaways, billboards and media campaigns (all timed for the tax levy vote) show a disregard of our tax dollars." (The book giveaways came from a grant, commenters pointed out.)
Charge for AV?
He recommended a $1 charge for AV items, which he said would raise $6.9 million—though commenters observed that the circulation would undoubtedly go down, especially since the high circulation is in the city’s poorer neighborhoods.
“Libraries used to be repositories of knowledge, not junior Blockbusters,” he added. “Blockbuster is seeing its business model fail with Netflix and streaming video. Why is the library headed down this dead end?"
Defending the levy
Levy campaign chair William Moran, in his op-ed, pointed out that PLCMC has been hit by a 28% loss in state funding, even as use goes up, and it's the only major library in the state that lacks local funding.
The newspaper supported the library levy in an editorial, though it agreed that the library “has made questionable expenditures, has too many underutilized branches, and is not effectively adjusting to the new realities of the digital age.”
Then again, the Enquirer reported that print circulation has actually grown far more, up ten percent this year, while AV is up only one percent, with the latter representing five percent of holdings but—thanks to faster turnaround—32 percent of circ.
Here’s an article about the “flashlight campaign” to support the levy for the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County and here’s an editorial supporting a levy for the Portage County District Library.