Ed Worso, GCPL Director

We’re reaching out to voters this November with a bond issue for capital improvements. Although it’s never easy to approach voters for tax dollars, it’s always a pleasure to share how we are able to better serve our patrons as we provide much needed services to all our citizens. In the spirit of transparency, I’ll be using this blog to share information.

Here’s a good question that has come up in meetings and with patrons.

Why don’t we do this the way we did it in years past? Why don’t you target this bond issue through the school district?

It is true that for many years, the model for fundraising to construct a new library building was to make a direct appeal to the citizens of the community that would be most impacted both by a tax and by the subsequent end product- a new library.

Patrons of all ages attend our programs and visit our buildings to browse the collection.

It was a model that worked in some parts of Ohio well. And it worked in some parts of this county well… in the past. But in the long term it is unsustainable. It’s similar to a large school district. The school district is responsible for all the students in that district and needs to provide equitable services to everyone. That means careful study, mindful planning and deliberate scrutiny of funding.

In county district library systems where the whole county is the service district, boards and administration have to look at the whole picture. Are we asking library patrons in this part of the county to drive an unreasonable distance to obtain services? Are there pockets that aren’t being served well? How can we work to provide equitable service to all community members? A part of my job has always been research; it’s intrinsic to the role of librarians. I continue to read about the history of Geauga County Public Library and how things came to be the way they are. I have a quote in a report on the state of the library in 1971 by G.W. Stanbery, the director at the time, regarding “Recent Library Housing” which reads as follows: “Inadequate housing has continuously plagued the development of a good general library collection and the maintenance of services commensurate with public needs.”

It’s a challenge that will face every board of trustees, every library administration and ultimately every community served by libraries. We can only hope that we do the best we can with the tools that are afforded to us and engage the community for support. With the support of the community, we know we are moving in the right direction.