MARTINS FERRY - Yvonne Meyers, director of the Belmont County district library, visited city council Thursday to speak about the history of the library system and promote the proposed 1-mill five-year operating levy to appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.
She noted that libraries have been integral to the area for generations. The first library building was constructed in 1930 at Fifth and Walnut Street, with other branches opening in later years. During their time as a county extension library, they maintained bookmobiles. The current library building was constructed in the 60s.
Last year, the Senate revised legislation that affected libraries. Among other changes was the removal of the designation as a county extension library. They were advised to and became a county district library as of July 25.
This has enabled the library to run a levy covering the county, excluding the independent branches in Bellaire, Barnesville and St. Clairsville.
The county district library status means that voters will not be taxed twice for the levy.
Meyers added that many libraries have resorted to levies due to the crash in library funding in the state. She noted the library budget has been cut 35 percent during the past few years.
"That money has not come back. We have scrimped and saved and everything," she said. "We're at the point where we had to do something."
There are six buildings with assorted bills and maintenance, and the costs are increasing. In addition, the library brings in little money in the form of fees for overdue books.
The levy will cost $35 per year, or $2.91 per month for the owner of a home valued at $100,000, the equivalent of two children's books or one adult book. The cost per home valued at $50,000 is $17.50 per year.
If the levy passes, the library hopes to restore hours that have been cut. The library is also expected to provide information regarding taxes and the new health care act. They also provide summer programs for children.
A Bill and Melinda Gates grant will help keep computers up to date for the next several years, but afterwards new improvements will be needed.
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