The New Carlisle Public Library will soon be open six days per week for the first time in eight years after local leaders agreed to change the split for state library funding, increasing its total by more than $45,000 annually.
The Clark County Budget Commission voted unanimously late last week to change the split for local public library entitlement funds.
PRIOR COVERAGE: New Carlisle library wants larger share of state funds to expand
Clark County is expected to received about $4.53 million in public library money from the state this year. The Clark County Public Library will received about $4 million annually for the next three years, while the New Carlisle Public Library will receive about $530,000 per year.
The New Carlisle library will receive a 1 percent increase to just less than 12 percent of the total public dollars allotted here, while Clark County will receive the rest of the money.
The additional money will allow the library to extend its hours from five to six days per week for the first time since 2009.
The new split creates a positive relationship between the two libraries to provide services to all of Clark County, New Carlisle Public Library Executive Director Beth Freeman said.
“We were happy to make that compromise,” she said. “My board was very pleased to sign this agreement.”
The Clark County Public Library board also was comfortable signing the agreement, its Executive Director Sally Rizer said.
In 2020 the two libraries will revisit the funding arrangement with two years of data to analyze at the New Carlisle Public Library, Freeman said.
The New Carlisle library likely will begin opening on Mondays starting Jan. 1, Freeman said. She will hire three additional staff members, she said.
“It’s definitely in the works,” Freeman said.
Cindy Campbell frequently visits the New Carlisle Public Library with her grandchildren, allowing them to play and check out movies and books, she said. She’s happy to hear about the extended service.
“There are some days we want to come but we have to wait until Tuesday,” she said.
Earlier this year, the New Carlisle Public Library began asking local governments and county commissioners to support increasing its share of the state’s public library funding to help it expand hours and services after the Clark County Public Library denied its request because its board believed the current split is fair.
The current split was formulated in 2005.
EARLIER COVERAGE: Clark County Public Library’s finances subject of budget meeting
The New Carlisle Public Library has been independent from the Clark County system since it opened in 1933. The library is currently a member of the Serving Every Ohioan library consortium, which provides access to more than 8 million titles.
As an association library, Freeman said it cannot ask voters for a local levy and relies solely on the state money for its budget. The New Carlisle library has about 12,000 cardholders and a circulation of about 123,000 items.
The mission of the budget commission — which includes Clark County Auditor John Federer, Clark County Treasurer Steve Metzger and Clark County Prosecutor Andy Wilson and meets about four times annually — is to make sure the expenditures of public entities don’t exceed revenue, Federer said.
The Clark County Public Library runs its main library downtown, four branches and a bookmobile with a total of about 80 employees, including 47 full-time workers. It has a total circulation of about 1.16 million items.
Clark County’s main branch in downtown Springfield is nearing completion of a $2.6 million renovation that included a new entrance and other updates, such as new restrooms and carpet.
The Clark County library’s main source of revenue is state library money and a permanent property tax approved by voters in 2010 after it had cut hours in 2009 due to state budget cuts. It’s expected to collect about $6.4 million this year, including $4 million in state library money about $2.4 million from its local levy.
It seems the Clark County library gets more public library money than it actually needs, Federer said.
The library has been careful with its spending in case bad times come again, Rizer said. It will spend all $4 million of its public library funds next year for operations, she said.
Rizer is concerned the state library funds — which makes up more than 56 percent of its revenue — may be reduced or taken away in the future, similar to the cuts in 2009.
“That day is coming,” she said.
Technology has made it easier for residents to use the library, Rizer said. The library must pay for services like e-books, streaming video and databases, she said, and it’s more expensive to run the library than it was in 2008.
“It all costs us money,” Rizer said. “It’s not out there free on the internet. We’re paying for those things.”
The budget commission must allocate money based on needs, Wilson said. The commission wasn’t trying to be difficult, Federer said, but simply represent all taxpayers.
“At some point somebody has to ask a question or two and that’s where we are today,” he said.
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By the numbers
$4.53 million: Total public library funds distributed to Clark County from the state government.
$530,000: State funding expected to be received by the Clark County Public Library from state library funds from 2018 through 2020.
$488,000: State funding received by the New Carlisle Public Library from state library funds in 2015.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has written extensively about the public library funding split since officials began discussing it earlier this summer.