Library systems facing state budget cut

Leaders at Miami Valley library systems are working with state lawmakers, who have been supportive in the past, to avoid a proposed $22 million cut in state funding for libraries statewide.

The cut is contained in the budget passed by the Ohio House of Representatives but is not in the Senate version of the state spending plan.

Jeffrey Trzeciak, Director of Dayton Metro Library, said if the cut remains in the state budget it will be costly.

“For us that means about $470,000 a year in our budget, so it is significant,” Trzeciak said.

He added that the move would come just as the library system is getting back to normal operations after more than a year of ups and downs during the health restrictions in the COVID crisis.

“We have started restoring services little by little. Last week in particular was a big week for us. We want to see more people coming in,” Trzeciak said.

In Greene County the library system there is also working with local state lawmakers to iron out any problems in the budget.

Director Karl Colon said he did not have an immediate estimate on the dollars and cents of the proposed cut, but added libraries depend on that funding.

“This is the money that we use day in and day out to do our long-term planning work for public services,” Colon said.

Colon said libraries have become an important part of every community, offering much more than just books and a quiet place to read.

They have become a valuable resource for communities in their time of need, even in emergencies.

He pointed to what the Greene County library system did during aftermath of the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes.

“We were a cooling center. We were an internet connection center. We had to turn on that dime. Tragedy struck suddenly and again because of this consistent support that we have received because our wonderful supporters in the legislature we can do the thinking, planning, and saving that means when we have to turn on a dime, we’re ready to go,” Colon said.

The State Senate continues to work on the new budget bill, moving towards a vote soon.

Then the budget bill will likely go to a conference committee where lawmakers will iron out the differences between the two versions of the budget plan.

The final budget must be adopted by July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.