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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

Bloated and Wasteful: Why Ashland Public Library Doesn’t Actually Need More of Our Money

As a weekly library patron, of course I want the library to update its collection on a regular basis. But how much does an already full library need updated yearly and at what cost to the taxpayers, especially in the digital age?

Public Records Requests and emails with library officials have yielded the following information: In the 2023 $2.5 million budget (combining state and local funding), $240,300 was allocated for “Library Materials and Information.” During this year alone, 8,725 physical items have been added to the library, not counting digital items accessed by subscriptions. These physical items were manufactured (many from trees), transported (burning fuel and polluting the environment), and processed into the library system (using costly work hours). To make room for these new items in an already full library, it would make sense that around 8,000 “old” materials acquired the same way had to be processed out of the system and then discarded or sold at a fraction of the original cost.

Financially and environmentally, this goes against everything we know about conservation and trustworthy stewardship of resources. According to their own admission in public information, the library repeats such terrible waste every single year as our taxes rise.

Additionally, based on a Public Records Request of book titles purchased over the past five years, no fewer than several hundred books placed in the Juvenile, Youth, and Young Adult sections had themes of sexuality, transgenderism, and CRT. Not just the five books discussed at board meetings in 2022, not just a few dozen (plenty if the motive had only been to “educate”), but actually hundreds are now in Ashland’s library. This obsessive focus on one particular set of topics isn’t healthy or without consequences.

Some would argue that a “no” vote on the November 7th levy would “defund” the library. However, this temporary funding reduction in local funding, until another levy passes, would simply be a wake-up call to teach the library to spend more wisely and be accountable to the taxpayers. As the levy doesn't affect state funding, its defeat wouldn’t close the library’s doors. No one is trying to do that.

The $2.5 million budget for the library isn’t for APL Board Members to waste, especially on obsessive agendas as they see fit. Please vote "no" on the library levy.

Sylvia Keller, Loudonville

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