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Save our libraries

June 23, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
The governor of Ohio is proposing slashing the public library funding by half.

If the 2010-11 budget passes, the cuts would mean small branch libraries will close, book budgets and library hours will be trimmed even further and people will lose their jobs.

According to children's librarian Misty Teasdale, five branches of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County would have to close — Adena, Brilliant, Dillonvale, Tiltonsville and Toronto. Bookmobile service would be eliminated, 35 staff members would be laid off, and the main library and Schiappa branches would reduce hours.

A final decision is expected on the proposal within a few days, with the budget going into effect July 1.

"If you want to help, please act now," Teasdale said in a mass e-mailing today. Contact information is listed at the end of this post.

While the programs are on the chopping block, Belmont County librarians say usage at the local libraries is increasing because of the recession.

Of course it is! Laid-off workers can't afford Internet service or the luxury of a trip to the bookstore or cinemas. Parents who normally might buy a bundle of books for their kids or themselves online are scrimping just to keep the fridge full. Libraries are a godsend for many local families. What's going to happen to story time and toddler time if staff and hours are cut? These programs provide much-needed socialization for our youngsters and are a positive early experience with books and literacy.

What about our students, come fall? If hours are cut and branches closed, where will they meet for their group research projects or a quiet place to study if things are crazy at home? Some low-income, at-risk children depend on the libraries like a lifeline. I can't see how cutting library funding by 50 percent in our current economic situation is the best option. For the sake of our children, I hope the powers-that-be in Columbus reconsider. Fax a letter to the Gov. Ted Strickland's office at 614-466-9354.

Ohio Rep. John Domenick's phone number is 614-466-3735. Write Domenick a letter and fax to 614-719-6995 or e-mail him at

Contact Ohio Sen. Jason H. Wilson at 614-466-6508 or by e-mail at

To reach state Rep. Allen Sayre, call 614-466-8035 or e-mail


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