Future of Buckeye Lake Library at stake in budget discussions
BUCKEYE LAKE - The Licking County Library system may shut down the Buckeye Lake Library to help trim its budget, but that's only one option.
"The possibility of closing the Buckeye Lake and the Miller branch libraries were presented along with three other scenarios to the library's finance committee for review and comment," said Licking County Library Director Steven Hawk. He said these scenarios are necessary because state support for operations will decrease by approximately 10 to 12 percent during the year. The other viable scenario is furloughing, or requiring unpaid leave, for staff for up to 11 days during the remainder of the year. Hawk said neither proposal was approved or rejected and the fiscal officer is working on other variations "splitting the difference," so to speak.
The next meeting of the district finance committee is March 12. The Committee can only recommend an action to the full board, which is scheduled to meet March 19. Both meetings are set for 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Newark Library and are open to the public. The budget, which would include one of the scenarios, must be approved by the end of March, said Hawk.
Hawk added the Friends of the Buckeye Lake Library are required to make a good faith effort to find a larger and more visible location for the Buckeye Lake Library in the current two-year lease, which expires at the end of September.
Friends of the Buckeye Lake Library President Pam Reed said the news of a possible closure came as a shock to her and the rest of the friends of the library board. She said Licking County Library System administrators told the board late last year that the library has outgrown its current space and should begin looking for a new one. "It sure didn't sound like we were at a risk for closing," said Reed.
She doesn't believe the administration understands the tremendous cost to benefit ratio that the library provides the community. Reed said administrators appear to be focusing on the number of library card holders and check out volume. Reed believes there's more to it than that. The number of kids or adults who use the computer system for schoolwork or job hunting as significant, as is the number of kids who use the library when doing homework.
Reed suspects that the Buckeye Lake Library is the least expensive branch to operate in Licking County. The Friends group and community members pay for all building expenses, including utilities, insurance, maintenance and supplies. The county library district provides the books, materials, and staffing. "I just believe the decision makers would get more bang for their buck by looking at other options beside closing buildings and stopping services," she said.