Bob Richmond, who is president of the Canal Fulton Public Library Board recently told the Akron Beacon Journal (Stark asks libraries to look at funding, Kathy Antoniotti, April 16, 2011):
Kent [Oliver - executive director of the Stark County District Library] has been pushing for consolidation for years. Although it's not a part of this proposal, I think that might be the ulterior motive to force consolidation.Richmond was reacting to a letter (the full text of which is a the end of this blog) sent by Oliver on March 15th to the Stark County Budget Commission proposing that distribution of the state of Ohio Public Library Fund (PLF) monies be henceforth distributed according to population base of the school districts that Stark County's seven libraries serve.
Back in 2003 Oliver was a part of discussions on the possibility of Stark County library consolidation. However, due to turfism, which is rampant in Stark County, the exploration went absolutely nowhere.
The SCPR believes that Oliver does favor consolidation. However, it is not a conspiratorial thing as Richmond suggests. Moreover, The Report does not think that considation is a bad thing. A countywide library system like a countywide 9-1-1 system financially enables Stark Countians to participate in state-of-the-art advances.
As Oliver points out in his letter, the Stark County District Library (SCDL) is in a league of its own as far as libraries in Stark are concerned when it comes to keeping up with technology, programming, having a mobile service and a book transfer service.
Though consolidation is desirable as far as the SCPR is concerned, it will not be happening in the next year of two. It will come in time. But down the road five or ten years.
Oliver in his letter makes a persuasive case for the SCDL to get a greater share of Stark's PLF money. Knowing the budget commissioners as The Report does, Oliver's SCDL will not be getting the $800,000 plus he is asking for in additional revenue. But it appears, SCDL will be getting more in 2012. And it should.
Over a phase-in period the current formula should be abandoned and Oliver's population base adopted.
Here is how the SCDL population formula works out on the current funding (2011):
The SCPR agrees with Mr. Richmond in the implicit point that he is making that as state aid subsides and if the budget commission agrees to increase the SCDL's share (as The Report believes it should and will do) coupled with the difficulty that Alliance, Canal Fulton, Louisville, Massillon, Minerva (which has no loal levy) North Canton certainly have in getting future levies renewed/increased, the survival of these libraries is a matter of time.
What they ought to be doing is to initiate a dialogue with the SCDL with an eye toward creating a structure of consolidation to take place in a phase-in overtime.
Or, they can - if the want to bury their heads in sand - wait until they suffocate.
Hopefully, they will get real and make the transition a win-win for for Stark County as a whole and their respective communities in particular.
Here is a copy of the SCDL letter.