The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
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December 2008

What’s New · Message from the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director - December Edition

Dear residents,

The recent economic crisis has everybody scrambling to find ways to save money. Your public library is the best value you can find. A recent economic benefit study found that public libraries provide nearly $4.00 in benefit for every $1.00 spent. How is this great benefit achieved?

With your free Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County library card you can check out items from our collection of nearly 10 million books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs. Materials on every topic can be found for students at all educational levels, books to foster a love of reading and enhance literacy skills in children, bestsellers for avid readers, music CDs for all types of musical tastes from classical to rock, DVDs for both educational and entertainment, recorded books to listen to on the bus, in your car and while you exercise, and digital books that can be read or listened to on your handheld devices.

Using an average book price of $20.00 and a movie rental fee of $3.00, if you check out two books every month and one movie each week instead of buying books and renting movies you would save $636.00 a year.

Use more of the Library’s resources and save even more. Bring your child to a free storytime or attend one of the thousands of free programs hosted by the Library each year. Use our outstanding selection of online resources, which are a great help for students and researchers alike. One recent email from a Library customer had this to say about our online resources: “Wow! What a resource that I did not even know existed!”

Since the most recent economic downturn we’ve seen a sizable increase in the Library use. In 2008, circulation at our system increased by over 750,000 items. Reference use, visits to the Library, program attendance – we’re seeing an increasing demand in all areas of Library use. Unfortunately, like so many other organizations, the economy has affected the Library’s funding, at the very time our services are needed most. Between 2000 and 2002 our annual Library funding dropped by $5 million or 9% and was frozen at this reduced level until 2008. Once the freeze was lifted in 2008, funding dropped even further and State funding estimates for 2009 show additional declines in funding.

The Library has been a good steward of public funds making many cuts to operate within this reduced budget including cutting staff, reducing hours of operation, reducing purchases of materials and supplies, canceling or delaying capital projects and equipment, computer, and vehicle purchases, and implementing a new, more efficient service model at the Main Library. Despite these measures the continuing downturn in Library funding means that it is likely that our expenditures will exceed our income by $5 to $6 million by 2010. Unless we locate a steady source of income we will be forced to make more cuts including reducing hours and staff, closing Library facilities, and cutting services.

Library services are vital to our community. As one of our prize-winning writers states from our “Making a Difference in Your Life” essay contest: “Growing up poor not only meant I couldn’t do many of the things my friends were doing, it meant I was already fighting not to become a statistic. I was just five years old, just getting ready to start school, and the odds were already stacked against me graduating at eighteen. There were a lot of doors closed to me, but there was one door that was always open: the door to the library.” We must keep our Library’s doors open to everyone. We can’t afford not to.