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Lakewood Public Library Braces for Additional Funding Cuts

Library prepares for cuts, as outlined in the proposed state budget.

Over the past couple years, the has lost about $1.2 million in state funding. To cope with the cuts, the library reduced its staff size, and instituted wage and hiring freezes.

The downward funding trend looks likely to continue. 

Gov. John Kasich's two-year budget proposal, released earlier last week, would continue cutting state public library funding by 5 percent in 2012 and 2013.

Statewide, it could be more than $160 million over the two years.

The state’s Public Library Fund has already decreased by 23 percent during the past two years. In Lakewood, that means the library lost $600,000 per year in revenue — or 15 percent of its total revenue.

“Not only did this fund lose money by being set as a percentage of the state’s overall general revenue, but legislators reduced the percentage as well,” said Lakewood Library Director James Crawford.

He said the library is most-widely used during times of economic instability, making the decision to cut library funding even more baffling.

“As the economy struggles, the demands on public library services increases,” he said. “For example, unemployment compensation services are offered by the State online.  Where do unemployed workers who don't have a computer and the Internet go to file these claims? The public library. And it is public libraries who are offering resume preparation and job searching classes.”

What’s also troubling to Crawford, he said, is that the Lakewood Public Library is the most efficient library in Cuyahoga County in terms of total expenses per items circulated at $2.45.

“Lakewood Public Library, which operates at the is the most accessible public library in the state, as we are open more hours per week than any other public library in Ohio,” he said. “We also offer more children’s programs than most if not all other libraries in Ohio.

Other libraries in the state are also feeling the pinch.

In 2009, the Cuyahoga Count Public Library dealt with a $14 million shortfall prompted by state budget cuts by reducing staff, increasing late fines, slashing money used for purchasing books and other materials and closing most branch locations on Sunday.

The Cuyahoga County Library receives about 30 percent of its funding from the state, said spokesman Robert Rua. 

What will happen at individual branch locations — the system serves nearly 50 communities and has 28 buildings — is even more fuzzy.

"There are still unanswered questions," Rua said. "For now, we'll see what unfolds.”

Chris Mazzolini contributed to this report.

RustBelter March 25, 2011 at 10:47 AM
Why don't the libraries cut salaries. Some librarians are making 40$ per hour for doing data entry which pays 10$ per hour in the private sector.
w greene March 29, 2011 at 06:03 PM
I think you need to check your facts. I highly doubt there is a librarian there that makes 40 USD an hour.
Linda April 04, 2011 at 09:14 PM
I'll put it this way. Lakewood is the only library open at all on a Sunday, let alone until 9 at night. Perhaps try less hours, like closing early on Saturday and closing all together on Sunday. Lakewood is one of the few suburbs with two branches. Close the Madison branch. Rocky River has only one branch, Westlake has only one branch, Fairview Park has only the one branch which is a county library. There are ways to save money without affecting the availability of books or other materials.
Kevin April 07, 2011 at 02:49 PM
Funding issues aside, Mr Crawford's comments about LPL being "the most accessible public library in the state" are overly euphemistic, considering that the general public, let alone tax-paying Lakewood citizens, is denied entry to the Audio-Visual room on the second floor without handing a library card to someone at the desk. No card? Off-limits. Were the library a privately-funded institution this type of button-down policy, while exclusive, would be pretty much unassailable. A library operated on the principle of serving only its own card-carrying customers and no one else (non-card carriers, people from other counties, cities), would well be able to defend such a policy. However, as an institution that accepts funding from the STATE, this practice of barring access to visitors is questionable, and, frankly, one that could be addressed by Mr. Crawford and his board. To put it into real-world terms: I brought my out-of-town friend in for a visit to LPL in March 2011 so we could pick out a DVD. He'd never been there and, as a regular customer, I was kind of showing the place off. We took a tour around the whole building, ending up at the entrance to the AV room. While I was allowed in, he was barred at the door from browsing in that room because he had no library card, for which he was ineligible to apply anyway. He was not permitted to substitute his state-issued ID or his credit card; he simply was not allowed to accompany me. Questionable!

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