Heights Libraries levy campaign kicks into gear

Did you know that there two election days this fall? 

First, on Thursday, Sept. 18, our Heights Libraries will hold a Sesame Street Block party at the Lee Road Library. At the block party, a close election between Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch will be decided by your votes. It will be a great time for kids and families, and we expect some of our local elected leaders to join us and help count the votes!

Probably less exciting, but arguably more important to our libraries, will be what happens on Election Day, Nov. 4, when this community will vote on a small operating levy that protects the Heights Libraries. 

Library supporters have been answering questions at local community events, like the Cedar Fairmount Summer Festival. I encourage you to chat with our volunteers next time you encounter us out in the community, and learn why it’s important to protect our Heights Libraries.

This operating levy protects the responsible financial foundation that has kept service levels so high. We think the Heights Libraries have made smart and responsible financial decisions. In recent years, more than $1 million has been cut from the budget, with minimal service impact, and Heights Libraries won the State of Ohio Auditor Award with Distinction. The network of four library branches is convenient, efficient, and exceptional, rated among the top library systems in the country for excellent service, facilities and staff.

Unfortunately, state budget cuts have hit local communities hard in recent years. State funding to libraries has fallen to 1996 levels and is expected to continue to decline. Heights Libraries’ service demand is growing, but the budget is shrinking. In 2013 alone, Heights Libraries served more than 1 million visitors; lent nearly 2 million books, videos, magazines and more; had more than 300,000 individual public uses of library computers; and ran 3,000 library programs.

Without this levy, our Heights Libraries could be forced to make additional cutbacks. With the passage of this levy, we can protect important services—and it could mean even more:

  • Restoration of Sunday hours is a top priority that this issue will support.

  • We can ensure all branches remain open.

  • We can ensure continued or enhanced computer access.

It’s up to us to take care of these community assets for today and tomorrow. So the next time you encounter a campaign volunteer, please approach him or her with your questions and concerns. Perhaps after casting a vote for Cookie Monster or Oscar at the Sesame Street Block Party, you can stop by the campaign tent and discuss casting a vote for our community’s future.

Abby Botnick and Louisa Oliver

Abby Botnick and Louisa Oliver are co-chairing the Library Levy Campaign. Botnick is a member of the library board and Oliver is president of the Friends of Heights Libraries.

Read More on Opinion
Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 1:48 PM, 08.28.2014