The Licking County Library and the Granville Public Library are among dozens in Ohio to appear on the ballot in May.

The Licking County Library and the Granville Public Library are among dozens in Ohio to appear on 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 an additional $30.63 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

The Licking County Library 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 Library, 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 the state had cut the LCL's 2010 budget by about 18 percent and is expected to decrease it by 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 its levy campaign.

Susan Leithauser, a trustee of the Granville Public Library and chair of the levy, said the levy is expected to collect about $2-million over five years.

Like the Licking County Library, the Granville Public Library has never asked voters to approve a levy, though Granville voters in 2004 approved a $5.18-million bond, which is still collecting. The Licking County Library previously was the Newark Public Library until last year and, like Granville, successfully asked Newark voters in the late 1990s for a bond issue to fund construction of a new building. The main campus is about 10 years old.

Leithauser said the Granville library has not had to make any layoffs and is trying to continue its services.

"Demand is up," she said.

She said the board of trustees and library staff are at a standstill, in terms of planning, until voters make a decision on a levy in May.

"We will be starting a strategic-planning process in the second part of the year," she said. "Once we know what our funding is, that will help us know what we can really do. We will be involving the public."

Leithauser said the board still is hashing out plans for its levy campaign but plans to work with the Licking County Library and the Homer Public Library, which also plans to place a 1-mill, five-year levy on the May ballot.

"Although each levy is unique, the money raised in Granville will stay in Granville," she said.

For more information on the Granville Public Library levy, visit www.granvillelevy.com.

gmartineau@thisweeknews.com