Patrick Losinski will spend the better part of this year on a massive public-education campaign.

Patrick Losinski will spend the better part of this year on a massive public-education campaign.

The director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library said he plans to explain the need for a renewal levy, which is expected to be on the November ballot. The amount of the levy and the millage will be recommended to the board of trustees, which must act by August to put the issue on the ballot.

The countywide levy will not appear on ballots of voters who live in other library districts such as Bexley, Upper Arlington, Worthington, Southwest, Grandview or Westerville.

"We'd like to think of this as a core community service," Losinski said. "And I think most of the public understands that."

So far, Franklin County voters have responded favorably to levy requests from the library system by approving ballot measures in 1976, 1981, 1986 and 2000. Losinski said that each time, library officials have lived within their means, even when funding levels have shrunk.

Over the past decade, the library has cut 160 full-time employees while circulation rose upward of 2-million at the system's 20 branches.

"We've just had to do that to meet our obligations and also to make good on a 10-year levy," he said. "We thought it was very important."

Meanwhile, the library system has had to accommodate more users. It served 8.5-million customers last year, when 10.5-million visited the Web site.

Because local taxes account for half of the library's operating budget, which is currently $44-million, defeating the levy would have grim consequences, Losinski said.

"The reaction from the library would be very drastic if that happened," he said.

Losinski said he fully realizes that people across the city have had to make sacrifices in the tough economy. The library has tried to help by creating job centers, which have served 37,000 people over the past year.

"We're making sure we do our best to inform the public so that they understand our needs and hopefully will support us again," Losinski said.

Greg Denby, manager of the Whetstone Branch in Clintonville, said he has cut staff hours, staffing levels and supplies -- "just anything" to save money while providing "the best service possible."

"What we've found is the level of work doesn't really go down," said Denby, who has also had to manage another facility, the Northside Branch. "The number of people visiting the library doesn't go down. It's just compressed in a shorter amount of time."