Message to the Community from Luren E. Dickinson:
As we move into a new year, we find ourselves just two months away from a very important election day. March 4 will be one of the biggest days during the Presidential Primary season, but it is equally important to our community because Shaker Heights Public Library will ask the public to maintain its 4-mill continuing levy.
This levy is a “replacement” issue on the local ballot and is a means of returning the taxes collected for the Library to a full four mills. Since the 4-mill continuing levy was approved in November 2001, the actual collection level has dropped from 4 mills in 2003 to 3.18 mills in 2007 because of HB 920, which limits new collections each year on a cost-of-living basis. Therefore since 2003, the amount of millage collected has been reduced by more than 20%.
This reduction in collected millage, coupled with an 11% rise in the actual cost of living since 2003, has had a significant impact on library finances. Additionally, state funding through the Library and Local Government Support Fund has declined by 10% between the years 2000 and 2003 and has remained flat through 2007. As a result, the Library’s buying power has shrunk by 10% during the same time period.
Shaker Library continues to enjoy heavy use by the community. Since 2000, we have seen a 38% increase in the number of materials borrowed by the public and 2007 was another record year for items checked out. Additionally, the number of library computers with access to the Internet has grown by more than 400% and thousands of adults use the public computers each year. In 2007, approximately 23,000 users took advantage of our free Computer Center―and that figure does not include the tens of thousands of children, teens, parents, and other adults who use the public computers in the reading areas at both Main Library and Bertram Woods Branch.
Return-on-investment studies across the nation and in the State of Ohio repeatedly demonstrate that public libraries return from $4 - $6 for every tax dollar invested. Shaker Library is no exception. It continues to be a great bargain and one of the best uses of tax dollars for everyone in the community.
Thanks to the consistent support we receive from our residents both in terms of library usage and levy support, we are one of the best-used libraries for our size in the country. We have enjoyed an increased per capita use of the library, which rose from 28 items checked out in 2000 to more than 41 items in 2007. We thank our community for placing us in the top percentile of the most-used libraries in the United States and we seek your continued support.