Director’s Corner

The Open Book
Robyn E. Vittek
Friends Brew up Funding for Library at Taste for Technology

Sabrina Bryan said, “You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus, and the support.”

Ohio public libraries are brimming with talented staff members with passion, drive, and focus. Most of us believe very strongly in the mission of libraries, and we know that the sky is the limit when it comes to what a library can do for the community; or rather, the budget is the limit. Year after year we do more with less, but that gap between doing more and spending less seems to keep getting wider. Our demand for services is higher than ever, but we’re never sure from one year to the next what the budget will look like; a 4% projected increase in May of one year can turn into a 4% reduction when the numbers become reality.

As such, most libraries look outside of our earmarked funds in the state budget (the Public Library Fund, or PLF, which is currently 1.7% of the General Revenue Fund) for local support. 70% of libraries in the state are supported in part by a local tax levy; these levies see some of the strongest backing of anything on the ballot. Ohioans LOVE their libraries; we’re known nationally for our strong library systems, and other states are totally jealous of Ohio librarians when we meet at conferences.

In Belmont County, Belmont County District Library and its branches are supported with a local levy, but the libraries in Bellaire, Barnesville, and St. Clairsville rely almost completely on state funding to make ends meet. I say “almost” because we are fortunate enough to have support groups help us out with purchases that we couldn’t otherwise afford. The St. Clairsville Public Library has two support groups; the Foundation, which is creating an endowment fund and helps with large capital projects, and the Friends of the Library. The Friends run our semi-annual book sales and donate funds to us throughout the year; they help us to purchase equipment and support the Summer Reading Program and children’s programs.

On August 13 from 6-8pm, the Friends of the St. Clairsville Public Library will host “Taste for Technology” at the Belmont Hills Country Club. The event is a beer and wine tasting, with hors d’oeuvres and live music by the Sarah Mahan-Hays Trio. The cost is $25, and you don’t have to be a member of the Friends group or a member of the Country Club to attend (though you do have to be 21). All proceeds will be donated to the library towards the purchase of new technology equipment. Tickets are available at Steele Insurance, 48259 National Road West in St. Clairsville.

If you would like to help out your local library, becoming a member of the support group is a great way to do it; many libraries have a “Friends of the Library” group. Membership in our group is only $10 a year; members get to attend the preview sales before each of our book sales and an invitation to the annual meeting, which is always a fun event with great food. The next Friends of the Library book sale will be held October 15-17 at the library, and as we are currently weeding the children’s collection and adult collection to make room for our newer titles, we’re going to have a gigantic sale with lots to choose from.

The Friends of the Library officers are President, Sarah Steele; Vice-President, Alisa DelGuzzo; Secretary, Natalie Brown; Treasurer, Denise Zatezalo; and Membership Chair, Sarah Mahan-Hays. These ladies work tirelessly to support the library, and can always use help with events. Friends of the Library members on the volunteer list have a great time helping at book sales, the National Road Yard Sale, handing out cocoa during the Holiday on the Hilltop Parade, and lending a hand at many other events through the year.

As long as we are supported by groups like the St. Clairsville Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the St. Clairsville Public Library, as well as the many wonderful patrons who donate books and funds throughout the year, we can do anything. Our fall program offerings are available on our website; be sure to check them out. If you don’t frequent St. Clairsville, stop by your own local library. You may be amazed at what they have to offer.

The St. Clairsville Public Library is located at 108 W. Main St., St. Clairsville Ohio. Hours are Monday-Wednesday 10 am -8 pm, Thursday-Friday 10 am-6 pm, and Saturday 10 am-2 pm. The library can be reached at 740-695-2062 or at www.stclibrary.org.