Ohio libraries face funding cuts under state budget plan

The Columbus Metropolitan Library

Ohio public libraries are pressuring lawmakers to keep funding levels steady and reject a plan to tweak a funding formula that delivers nearly half of all the money used to operate 251 library systems across the state.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem like much – shaving state funding for the Public Library Fund from 1.7% to 1.66% of Ohio’s general revenue fund – but it would amount to a $22 million hit over two years, according to the Ohio Library Council. Data on how that $22 million would fall on each library system was not available, but the Columbus Metropolitan Library estimates it would see a $1.5 million cut over two years. 

The council and five of the state’s largest library systems testified this week against the proposed funding cut. If lawmakers trim the libraries’ share of the local government fund to 1.66%, libraries estimate they’ll receive $871 million over two years. But if it’s set atthe current rate of 1.7%, they’ll get $893 million.

The Martin Luther King library branch designed by Moody Nolan

Aside from loaning books and materials, libraries are community hubs that provide internet access, homework help, job search assistance, literacy programs, meeting room space and more.

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Roughly 48% of all money for Ohio libraries comes from the Public Library Fund and 50 of the 251 library systems rely on it entirely since they don’t have local property tax levies.