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Ohio County Library a Treasure

Editor, News-Register:

Recent actions of the Ohio County Board of Education that will result in a 33% reduction ($294,849) of annual revenue to the Ohio County Public Library should give all citizens of the county cause for alarm.

Too frequently, funding of libraries is considered an add-on or frill by those who control access to revenue.

The Ohio County Public Library was originally conceived as a child of the Wheeling Public School system.

A mechanism to fund the county-based library was created by a special law requested by the Board of Education — at the time, and for many years, this special legislation was considered innovative. Throughout its existence, the OCPL has been a leader and innovative in its programs, activities, and offerings.

Curiously, it has only been within the last few decades or so that funding assistance for the Library from county tax revenue has been considered an economic competitor or the cause of potential educational service losses.

Providing dynamic, innovative, personalized, and interactive learning opportunities is not the exclusive responsibility of the local board of education, and indeed, the OCPL has supported, encouraged, and enabled learning enrichment for all citizens of the county.

I would urge that in considering funding modifications that all parties consider that:

A. Libraries are an important component of any thriving community.

They contribute to quality-of-life enhancements that encourage new residents, new businesses, and vibrant populations.

B. Libraries work with community partners and help people address real-life issues and support positive community building

C. Libraries extend services, resources, and programs beyond their four walls — physically and virtually

D. Libraries serve every single component/segment of their population — each of the 41,411 persons living in Ohio County can benefit directly from the Ohio County Public Library

E. The Board of Education, local schools, teachers, pupils, and citizens are getting a tremendous return on the financial investment that they continue to make in the Library

If you feel that the OCPL is not meeting your needs, I’m sure that they would welcome your input and suggestions on how their services and programs might be enhanced.

Whacking away at library revenue is equivalent to chipping pieces from a building’s foundation. Eventually, the erosion by fiscal jackhammering will cause significant and potentially irreversible damage. Forcing the local public library to do less because of political penny-pinching harms every resident of Ohio County.

Surely, we can do better than this!

Charles Julian

Wheeling

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