The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

September 22, 2013

Library director William Tokarczyk informs City Council about November levy

ASHTABULA — Ashtabula County District Library plans to ask voters Nov. 5 approve a 1.25-mill levy.

Library Director William Tokarczyk provided City Council with information on the levy and the library’s status at Monday’s pre-council meeting.

Come 2015, the library, which includes the Ashtabula Library, the Geneva Library and the Bookmobile, will have less money than the bills it has to pay, he said.

The Ashtabula County Auditor has certified the levy will generate $1,088,577 during its first year of collection, based on the current assessed valuation of the Ashtabula County District Library service area of $916,696,550.

The levy will be used to cover operating expenses for the Ashtabula County District Library for 10 years. If the levy passes, the owner of home valued at $75,000, will pay $33 a year, or just $2.75 a month, he said.

“We don’t want to keep coming back to the voters that’s why we made it for 10 years,” Tokarczyk said. “By helping the library maintain and expand existing  services and programs, revenue from the levy will provide a sustainable source of funding to ensure we can operate our libraries for the next decade.”

State funding for libraries has been on a downward trend for the past 12 years. State funding has been reduced by more than one-third compared to just five years ago.

“We’ve taken measures to cope but at a tremendous cost in the level of service to the public,” Tokarczyk said. “We are 12- to 15,000-feet short for computers, study rooms and books.”

The library has made a commitment to stay downtown. It is renovating the oldest part of the library first. Passersby may have noticed the brickwork and window replacement going on.

Ward 2 Councilman August Pugliese said he’s happy the library is staying in the city.

“People don’t know how valuable a library is,” he said.

The library also purchased the property behind it from the Ashtabula Area City School District so someday it can expand on a “pay as you go” basis, Tokarczyk said.

 The “pay-as-you-go” plan is because money is tight.

Faithful library patrons know this because they have seen a reduction in hours of operation; the Bookmobile schedule reduced; sharply curtailed programs for children, teens and adults; discontinued magazine and database subscriptions; and drastically reduced purchases of new materials.

The passage of the levy will enable the library to restore hours, programs and book and media purchases.

The library’s infrastructure also is in need of repair, including the windows and carpeting. The Geneva Library needs carpeting, as well.

ACDL, like most libraries in Ohio, has been funded more than 90 percent by the state since the mid-1980s. Since 2008, the state has cut funding by $400,000, and by more than $600,000 annually since its peak in 2001, Tokarczyk said.

 Tokarczyk believe area residents don’t realize how many people use the library.  Many people in the community, including the elderly, use the computers to get on the Internet.

“When the economy is bad, people use the library a lot,” he said. “The unemployed use our on-line services.”

Patrons stand in line to use the computers.

The library also offers faxing and scanning services for a minimal fee.

For more information on the ACDL, check them out on Facebook @ Ashtabula County District Library or call 997-9341.

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