Home Education Indo-American Friendship Dinner helps local library

Indo-American Friendship Dinner helps local library

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For the first time, the Athens County Public Libraries ask the voters of Athens to approve a levy this November that would use taxpayer dollars to fund the network of seven buildings around Athens County.

The five-year mill levy would increase property taxes for homeowners by one dollar for every thousand dollars that their home is worth. For example, “a home valued at $40,000 will pay $14 a year; a property valued at $100,000 will pay $35 a year,” according to the Athens County Public Libraries website.

Library Director Lauren Miller has been attending speaking arrangements around Athens County trying to spread the word about the needs of the public library. If passed, the library levy’s main use would be the maintenance of the libraries.

“It’s expensive just to keep things going,” Miller said. “Utility costs have gone up for everyone, but we have seven building to maintain.”

Funding for public libraries has been declining in recent years. The libraries’ website says that state funding has decreased by 23 percent since 2008, forcing them to save money by decreasing operating hours by 26 percent and cutting administrative salaries and some staff jobs in 2009.

“Right now a great deal of our funding comes from donations and grants,” Miller said. “And that’s not sustainable.”

Statewide Ohio Public Library Funding, 1996-2014

GRAPH_LIBRARY

Source: State Funding History of Ohio Public Libraries (PDF)

Even in its heyday, the Athens County Public Libraries did not extend to Amesville, where students’ and residents’ only opportunities to bury their noses in books came when they visited school libraries. For those attending Amesville Elementary School that was not a great option either, because their library was becoming more outdated every year.

A year ago the library had very limited hours, and teachers were encouraged to bring students in to check books out. Linda Cochran, a volunteer librarian said the library couldn’t afford to let students keep the books very long and the books were just too outdated. Cochran and Kerry Sheridan-Boyd, PTA president for the school, began plans to change that.

“Linda started volunteering in the library,” Sheridan-Boyd said. “We would not be where we are without her.”

Cochran began to go through all of the books, which were published as early as the 1960s.

“It was apparent to me that I needed to weed out about 3,000 titles off the top,” Cochran said. “I’m still in the process, but I’ve done more than half. I’ve ordered more than 1,000 new titles.”

Sheridan-Boyd, a member of the Rotary Club of Athens, approached them about helping the cause. They responded with a $10,000 donation. The Rotary Club project to fund the Amesville School Library was also adopted by the Friends of India Endowment, who gave a portion of the funds raised from their 28th Annual Indo-American Friendship Dinner, which took place on Saturday, to the cause.

“Every year we pick up a project—local or international,” said Rajindar Koshal, a founding member of the Friends of India Endowment. “So we asked the Rotary Club, ‘Do you have any projects you would like us to help you with?’”

Sheridan-Boyd said the Amesville School Library has been completely rearranged, thanks to the donations made and the efforts by Cochran. They are both pleased that the library’s improvement allows for the purchase of books on more varied subjects and allows students to check the books out for longer periods of time.

“More and more students use the library now,” Cochran said. “It’s been very gratifying.”

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