Advocates for Ohio’s libraries are cheering the Senate version of the state budget, which restores funding that was set to drop when the current budget expires on June 30.
State law sets library funding at 1.66% of the state’s general revenue fund. But for the last decade, lawmakers have upped that to 1.7%.
The House budget doesn’t recommend the higher percentage, but the Senate budget does.
Michelle Francis with the Ohio Library Council said that percentage translates to $22 million over the next two years.
“In some cases that was going to be personnel that they were going to have to lay off or terminate. And in some of areas, some of our more rural areas, if they don’t have a lot of staff, that was going to be a significant reduction in services that could be delivered to the local community.”
A conference committee would have to work out the difference between the two library funding numbers before the budget can be signed into law.
Libraries will get $4.5 million in federal COVID relief money, but that will be shared among more than 250 public library systems and it’s earmarked for specific projects, not for regular operations.