The Library Board of Trustees reviewed information and made decisions in 2009 and 2010 regarding the directions the Library should take to remain viable and relevant. This led the trustees to place a levy of 1.8 mills on the November 2010 ballot. The voters approved this levy and the Library is now proceeding to fulfill its promises. For more information about the Library’s future plans, click on these links:
A Review of the Library System by Himmel & Wilson, Library Consultants
Knowing What Matters Most
Underlying Financial Assumptions
Click on these links for important information:
YOUNGSTOWN (April 19, 2010) -- Members of the Library Board of Trustees met at 1 p.m. Monday, April 19, at Main Library to discuss the future of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County in light of the current economic climate and decline in library funding.
Trustees heard presentations from Bill Wilson of Himmel and Wilson Library Consultants, and Carlton A. Sears, Library Director, in an information gathering and sharing session. The Library 2011 strategic plan was revisited and discussion included population, use, and service trends, capital issues and finances.
“An erosion of state funds beginning nearly a decade ago accelerated rapidly in 2009 at a time when people are turning to libraries more and more. The Library must remain a quality system and do so in an environment of declining funds,” Sears noted. “We know how important the Library is to county residents. Every week, people connect with the library some 87,500 times. That’s 4.4 million times per year.” People connect with local libraries in many ways: attending a program, asking a reference question, checking out books and materials, using the Library’s many website services, using an in-library public computer with Internet access, a WiFi connector for their own computer, and visiting a Mahoning County library to simply read.
Over the past 18 months, the Library has continued to operate a quality system of materials and services, while guarding revenues, as the shaky economy led to further and further drops in funding. Stewardship actions included cutting library hours around the county, adopting more energy-efficient operations, reducing delivery schedules to libraries throughout the system, reducing purchases of books and other materials, and implementing salary cuts for all employees, including the Director. Additionally, over the past decade, numerous other efficiencies have taken place, such as energy utilization and online self-service features.
Trustees gathered today to review surveys, profiles of all components of service in Mahoning County, and begin to consider scenarios and choices on which future decisions will be based. Profiles of the library system and each individual library were part of a study done by Himmel and Wilson, funded in large part by a donation from the Walter E. and Caroline H. Watson Foundation.
At the basis of this discussion are the values of making progress, efficiency, maintaining trust and having impact; maintaining a high quality of service that benefits the community at a time when people need libraries most; maintaining a library system of facilities and services that are relevant and specific to our community; a continuous pursuit of efficiencies in service and productivity.
Trustees discussed options such as renting space for libraries, perhaps in conjunction with other compatible organizations, mobile services, branch mergers, and investments in technologies that promise even more efficient operations.
‘When the people of Mahoning County voted last November, they showed that ‘I Love My Library’ is more than a phrase. Over 71% voted to support the library. That support is deeply appreciated. We thank you!
“The renewal levy passed last November was important because it kept in place the Library’s only source of funding that has been stable. Being a renewal, it did not raise taxes, which means it did nothing to fill the financial hole that was created in 2009 when $2.24 million in funding was lost. The library has been filling the hole by reducing spending and continuing its quest of many years to be more efficient.
“Thirty employees (15% of the work force) lost their jobs and as a result, hours that libraries could be open were reduced across the county. Funds to purchase books, newspapers, and others materials were reduced.
“The practice of setting aside funds to repair and upgrade old buildings and to replace aging technology was eliminated. Every employee gave back wages.
“All of those reductions did not total the amount needed to make up for the lost revenue. The story of rapidly declining revenue did not end in 2009. We expect in 2010 that revenue will drop by another nearly $900,000. The library entered 2010 knowing that before the end of this year it would need to find a way of coming up with the rest.
“Over the course of the coming months the people of Mahoning County will be hearing a lot about the choices the library faces. We will also be sharing more specifically what’s at stake that may not be widely recognized or understood.”
Public comment will be sought as planning and study process continues
“As Library Trustees and staff plan for the future and discuss those choices we want to hear what the people of Mahoning County, have to say. We will be announcing ways that the public can provide us with input through our website and our library locations. More information on this will be available soon.
“There is a lot at stake for the people of Mahoning County in the decisions that lie ahead of us. We believe that it is important that the people in our community understand why and that those responsible for operating the library and setting policy listen to what people have to say.”