It's time for residents to renew their lease on the Upper Arlington Public Library.

It's time for residents to renew their lease on the Upper Arlington Public Library.

On March 6, voters will be asked again to approve a five-year, 2-mill levy for library operations. Voters have been supporting that same millage since 2002.

Of course, if the issue fails and the levy expires at the end of this year, the library will still be there. But with reductions in state funding, local property taxes now make up 54 percent of library revenue. Without passage of the levy, the library system as you've known it may no longer meet your expectations.

Some fairly sharp reductions have already been made at the library in the last two or three years, when state funding began (again) to be reduced. With a smart director, a knowledgeable board and a dedicated staff, changes since 2009 - if they've been noticed at all - have not seemed to disrupt library services or to disappoint its patrons.

A big reduction was in library staff, down a total of 26 percent (including both full-time and part-time employees) from 2009 to January 2011. Vacancies on the staff remained vacant. Salaries were frozen.

More likely to be noticeable to regular library users was the reduction in hours, from 74 a week to 63. That might have caused inconvenience for some, but it accounts for substantial savings and it's apparently been manageable.

If the levy passes - the same millage property owners have been paying for 10 years - the library will continue to run pretty much as is, with the same reduced hours and reduced staff. The library will continue to acquire materials, if not at the level it formerly did, and will address increased technology demands as it is able.

Some deferred maintenance should be able to be addressed through money that's been set aside for the purpose, but not all of those needs will be met.

The fact is that if the levy passes, the library will continue to serve Upper Arlington well, if not quite as fully as in the past. if it fails, the reduction of hours, staff, programs and materials will be hard to miss.

Please note, however, that there will be plenty of people to miss them. Did you know that 85 percent of Upper Arlington residents are library card-holders? Give yourself a minute and see if you can think of anything that such a high percentage of residents - anywhere - would have in common. Not easy, is it?

The 2-mill cost to homeowners comes to about $61.25 for each $100,000 of home value - the second-lowest rate of the seven public library systems in Franklin County, according to figures supplied by the Franklin County auditor's office. That's even lower than Columbus, where 2.8 mills cost $85.75. Next door, Grandview has the biggest millage in the county, with residents paying $135.57 per $100,000.

The Upper Arlington Public Library has absorbed some heavy blows and it has continued to come through for the community. Now it's the community's turn again. ThisWeek recommends passage of Issue 9 on the March 6 ballot.