Upper Arlington Public Library officials say proposed cuts in the state's Public Library Fund (PLF) would force the library to drastically cut hours and services.

Upper Arlington Public Library officials say proposed cuts in the state's Public Library Fund (PLF) would force the library to drastically cut hours and services.

On June 19, Gov. Ted Strickland announced an additional proposed cut in the PLF of $112.5-million in fiscal year 2010 and $114.8-million in 2011 to help fill the $3.2-billion deficit in the state budget. The budget must be balanced by the Ohio General Assembly's Conference Committee on June 30.

The cut will mean a more than 50 percent decrease in funding for many of Ohio's public libraries. While 70 percent of the state's 251 public libraries rely solely on the PLF to fund operations, UAPL receives half of its $6-million annual budget from the state.

The other half of UAPL's budget comes from the 2-mill, five-year replacement levy voters passed in May 2007.

If the legislature approves Strickland's plan, UAPL would lose approximately $1.4-million in state revenue annually.

"What that translates to for us is we're going to have to close some hours," said library director Ann Moore. "I don't know if that will be a day. I don't know if it will be several mornings" per week throughout the year.

The library was prepared for a 20 percent state funding cut because of the recession, but the Strickland's latest proposal came as a surprise, Moore said.

To brace for the potential $1.4-million loss for the next two years, Moore and the library's board of trustees is looking at a variety of options.

"It could be we could close the Main Library at 6 p.m. on Friday evenings. We are the only library in the county open that late," Moore said, currently remaining open until 9 p.m.

"We may have to close our (Lane Road and Miller Park) branches. We might close them on the weekend. We're just looking at all kinds of options. We're looking at fewer hours for our staff. We're looking at everything. We've told our facilities manager to reduce our lighting. We're looking for every single way we can save money."

Strickland's proposed cuts come on the heels of the failure of UAPL's $25-million bond issue in May. The levy would have funded repairs and improvements to the main and Lane Road branches.

"During the bond levy, people were saying, 'Why doesn't the library cut costs?' We have," Moore said. "We have done a lot of cost-saving measures last year and this year. Most of them were things the patrons can't see. Now we'll have to do the things that are painful."

Cost-cutting measures to date include passing on the cost of prints from public computers to patrons and cutting back on program brochures and other printed materials. The library has also cut staff hours, Moore said.

"Any job openings we have, we're reducing the hours in those job openings," she said. "We have no overtime."

The cutbacks have coincided with increased patron usage. UAPL recently set a new record by reaching 1 million in materials circulation on June 17, two weeks earlier than it achieved the same milestone in 2008.

The number of items a library circulates is a factor in the state's formula for distribution of the PLF. Other factors include collection size, population of service area and square feet of the building. In 2008, UAPL was ranked as one of the top three PLF-funded libraries.

Moore said she has noticed increased library usage in the recession.

"People come here to find jobs. They come here for free entertainment and learning for their kids," Moore said. "It's busier than ever here."

Once the state finalizes the budget on June 30, UAPL's board of trustees will discuss at its July 14 meeting how hours and services will be impacted.

UAPL and other libraries are asking citizens to call and e-mail Strickland and state legislators and ask them to maintain library funding. For more information, visit www.ualibrary.org.