Charleston Chamber supports passage of library levy


lovingmylibraryOn November 4, 2014 (General Election Day), there will be a question on the ballot asking Kanawha County voters to approve or reject a new levy, which will provide funding for the continued operation of the Kanawha County Library System. A simple majority (50.1 percent) of the votes cast must approve the levy in order for it to take effect.

The Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the levy and encourages Kanawha County voters to vote Yes on Nov. 4.

Provided is some information that helps to explain why the levy is on the ballot.

Q: WHAT IS THE PUBLIC LIBRARY LEVY ELECTION?

Voters are being asked to restore funding for the Kanawha County Public Library (KCPL) system. If approved, the levy will provide funds for the next five years to support the Kanawha County public libraries.  Specifically, passage of the levy would restore $2.9 million of KCPL annual operation and staffing funds lost after a 2013 ruling by the W.Va. Supreme Court.  Approval also will make levy funds available to libraries in South Charleston ($227,480) and Nitro ($51,000) during the first year. Levy funding will continue for five years.

One item of note: the Kanawha County Board of Education is the sponsoring agent this public library levy, but the school board will not receive any of the funds. Levy funds would be for library use only.

Q: WHAT DOES THE PUBLIC LIBRARY LEVY FUND?The $2.9 million in annual funds that would be generated by the levy will be used for the ongoing operation and staffing of the KCPL system, which consists of ten libraries and a Mobile Library. Some of the monies also will help support libraries in South Charleston and Nitro. None of the levy funds will go to the construction of new library buildings.

Q: WILL THE PUBLIC LIBRARY LEVY INCREASE TAXES?

Yes.  Passage of the levy will result in the following: for someone who owns a home with an assessed value of $100,000 and a vehicle valued at $15,000, the increase would amount, generally, to $1.36 a month or $16.22 per year. These funds will help provide everyone in the county with the resources they need for education, enrichment and entertainment.

Q: HOW MANY PUBLIC LIBRARIES ARE IN KANAWHA COUNTY?

The KCPL system includes facilities in Charleston, Clendenin, Cross Lanes, Dunbar, Elk Valley, Glasgow, Marmet, a branch in the Riverside High School, St. Albans and Sissonville. The library also operates the Mobile Library (bookmobile).

Q: With the rise of the Internet, are people still using the library?

The public libraries in Kanawha County have more than 128,000 cardholders, most of whom live in Kanawha County. And, last year library patrons checked out and downloaded more than 1.1 million items from all public libraries in Kanawha County. Actually, the Internet and digital media are causing people to use the library for new and different purposes.  In 2013, the Kanawha County library system provided nearly 434,000 digital items to patrons – from audio books to DVD movies to music CDs to eBooks.  The number of patrons checking out eBooks almost equals those who check out paperback books.

The libraries also are an important resource for people who need to have access to computers and the Internet.

Q: What happens if the levy fails?

If the levy is not approved by the voters on November 4 it will have very serious consequences for the Kanawha County Library System. Facing a budget cut of 40 percent, the Kanawha County Library System will have to:

  • Close multiple branches, reduce hours at the remaining locations and limit bookmobile routes and services. This action also would reduce availability of free Internet and Wi-Fi access, which is provided at the libraries.
  • Cut spending on all library materials, including books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs and all downloadable items, such as e-books and digital music.
  • Cut spending on quality on-line resources for students, teachers, job seekers and businesses.
  • Cut staff positions…even more than has been done over the past year.

In addition, the library boards in South Charleston and Nitro will not be able to make needed enhancements and improvements. (More information on these planned enhancements and improvements can be found by going to the campaign’s web site – www.lovingmylibrary.com.)