State Library of Ohio and The Ohio State University Extension to Offer Program for Public Library Employees
By Bill Morris, Governmental Affairs Coordinator, State Library of Ohio
The decrease in state funding through the Public Library Fund has caused many libraries to consider going to the public for local levy support for the first time. There were a number of new library levies on the ballot this fall and more libraries are considering going to the ballot in upcoming elections. While there are many factors to consider when deciding to approach the public for a local levy, one important step is to check and see what the library’s legal boundaries are. Those legal boundaries can determine specifically which voters will be voting on a library’s levy.
While the majority of public libraries in Ohio were formed as School District libraries, there are also County District, Municipal, Township and Association libraries which typically have boundaries based on the political subdivisions under which they were formed. However, it is possible that those boundaries have undergone a change at some point in history. The school district may have been consolidated with a neighboring school district or the library may have requested a change in boundaries to better reflect the actual service area of the library. In the case of County District Libraries, the district may have been formed to pick up those areas of a County left un-served by another library. Changes to library boundaries are made by the State Library Board under Chapter 3375 of the Ohio Revised Code. The State Library keeps a permanent record of any library boundary changes that have occurred over the years and can research your library's boundaries to be sure they are up to date.
Changing, Redefining or Clarifying Library Boundaries
If a library finds that its boundaries are not clear, the procedure outlined on the State Library website can be followed to change boundaries. The process actually begins with communicating with other area libraries which may be affected by a proposed change. Then an application can be made to the State Librarian to start the formal process. Because of the timetables required under Ohio law, this process can take from 90 to 120 days to complete. Libraries should plan accordingly when considering the timing of placing a levy on the ballot. If you have any doubts about your library’s boundaries, please contact the State Library at 614-728-5118.