The Licking County Libraries and the Granville Public Library are among dozens of Ohio libraries going to the ballot in May.

The Licking County Libraries and the Granville Public Library are among dozens of Ohio libraries going to the ballot in May.

Both libraries are asking their communities for 1-mill, five-year levies that would begin to be collected in 2011 and help to fill the gap left by the 31-percent cut to libraries in the state biennium budget approved last summer.

In both cases, the levy would cost homeowners about $30.63 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

The Licking County Libraries levy is estimated to collect about $1.9-million over the five years and would help to continue services at the system's seven branches in Newark, Johnstown, Buckeye Lake, Hebron and Utica.

This is the first time the system has asked voters to approve a levy.

Steven Hawk, director of the Licking County Libraries, said the board decided to go on the May 4 ballot so it would have another chance in November if the first attempt were to fail.

"It's mainly because practically every other library in Ohio is doing the same thing," Hawk said.

He said their 2010 budget was cut by about 18 percent by the state budget and is expected to decrease another 7 percent in 2011.

Those cuts are on top of a budget freeze in 2002 that froze funding at the 2001 level, he said.

"We let go about 30 people in the end of 2008 and reduced expenditures," Hawk said.

He said the levy passage would greatly help the system.

"That begins to get us back to where we would be if there had not been a freeze," Hawk said. "The state funding is never going to get back to the way it was and the local public library has to raise money locally."

The local nonprofit organization Citizens for Your Library's Future is working with library staff to coordinate the levy campaign.

Susan Leithauser, a trustee of the Granville Public Library and chair of that library's levy campaign, said the board is still hashing out plans but intends to work with the Licking County Libraries and the Homer Public Library, which are also seeking levies in May.