Heights libraries are vital to our community

The immense value of our local Heights libraries cannot be taken for granted. The services they provide can sometimes seem routine: lending books, connecting residents to the Web, running programs for children, providing resources for job seekers, and more. But these services are fundamental to all of us. Our libraries are part of the bedrock of our community and must not be overlooked.

Since the library first opened its doors in the Heights in 1921, it has helped to shape the community’s success. The libraries have anchored our walkable neighborhoods, educated our citizenry, and provided top-notch, free services to every resident. And it is not only Heights residents who think we have a wonderful library system. Library Journal has awarded our library 5 Stars—its top grade—for the fifth year in a row! Heights Libraries is ranked seventh in the country for libraries of its size.

Now we find ourselves having to protect this amazing community resource. Fortunately, we have an opportunity this fall to keep our libraries strong by passing Issue 5. 

In recent years the state of Ohio has aggressively cut funding to local communities, and our library’s state funding is at its lowest point since 1996. State funding provides one-third of the library’s budget, with property tax, which is also bringing in less, providing the other two-thirds. As funding has decreased, the demand for services has increased. In 2013 alone, Heights Libraries had more than one million visitors, loaned 1.8 million items, and provided more than 300,000 individual computer visits. In 1996, the library had no public-use computers, and circulation was 350,000 less. 

In the face of declining budgets, our Heights libraries have made smart fiscal decisions. More than $1 million has been cut from the Heights Libraries’ budget, with minimal service impact.  The State of Ohio Auditor’s Office awarded our library the Auditor Award with Distinction.

We need to protect the solid financial foundation Heights Libraries has built by approving Issue 5, a small 2.2 mill operating levy, on the November ballot. The impact on homeowners amounts to only $6.13 per month per $100,000 valuation.

Passing Issue 5 will do more than protect current services and programs. The library board has prioritized restoring Sunday hours to Coventry Village and Noble Neighborhood libraries; providing enhancements to library facilities, to keep up with technology and new uses; improving parking and handicap access; and establishing energy-saving and sustainability upgrades.

We can’t take our Heights Libraries for granted! Vote FOR Issue 5 to protect our Heights Libraries this November. Supporting our libraries strengthens our community. Visit the levy website at www.protectheightslibraries.org for additional information, to sign up for a yard sign, to volunteer for the campaign, or to donate to get our message out.

Abby Botnick and Louisa Oliver

Louisa Oliver and Abby Botnick are co-chairs of the Library Levy Campaign to support the Heights Libraries. Botnick is a member of the libary board and Oliver is the president of the Friends of the Heights Libraries.

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 3:08 PM, 09.29.2014