Expanded hours and new materials are on the way for Southwest Public Libraries after voters approved its first operating levy last week.

Expanded hours and new materials are on the way for Southwest Public Libraries after voters approved its first operating levy last week.

The 10-year, 1-mill levy passed with 58 percent "yes" votes after seven failed levy attempts.

Throughout its history, Southwest has received 95 percent of its funding from Ohio's Public Library Fund, which has faced drastic cuts in recent years. The budget cuts forced the closure of one of the libraries' three branches and resulted in the reduction of the materials budget by 75 percent.

Library director Mark Shaw said the Southwest Public Libraries board of trustees were to meet Tuesday, Nov. 9, to discuss what happens next.

"We ran the campaign on the promise to the voters that we would restore as many services as possible, and our first goal is to restore the operating hours that were cut in the summer of 2009 and to start buying new books again," Shaw said.

In particular, patrons have been asking that weekend hours be restored, and Shaw said the library will accommodate that request. In order to do so, however, some hiring is needed.

"We laid off a significant portion of the workforce last summer and we'll have to look at what you need to cover that schedule," Shaw said. "We will not hire one person more than we need to cover that schedule. There will be no administrative (positions) added as a result of the levy."

Shaw isn't sure how soon these changes will be in place. Levy revenue will be collected starting in January 2011.

Jeff Davis, president of the Friends of Southwest Public Libraries, and Shaw both expressed their thanks to those who supported the levy.

"I'm relieved and grateful to the voters of the district for valuing their library," Shaw said. "It means that we will not have to close one of our buildings and we can go back to providing great service to our customers once again."

Davis said the campaign wouldn't have been successful without the help of volunteers.

"I'm very appreciative and very sincerely grateful for the commitment our community showed and the volunteers. It was pretty remarkable," he said.

"I hope that now we can keep the energy going."

Levy supporters gathered at the China Bell restaurant on Stringtown Road Nov. 2 to watch results come in. Runners waited at each polling location for the results and then drove back to the restaurant to report the tallies.

"It was quiet at first and then it got more enthusiastic as it became clear the issue was going to pass," Shaw said.

Davis said that early results boded well for the results.

"We had a pretty good feeling early on for how it was going, and it was pretty good news from the beginning," Davis said.

The levy, which will cost homeowners about $31 a year for every $100,000 of home valuation, will generate $2.6-million in its first year.