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Monday, March 10, 2003

Library gift: Good for Clifton



First, an anonymous donor gave more than $100,000 to the Clifton Branch of the Public Library Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Then another kicked in $12,500. And before long, the 49-year-old, tiny storefront library had enough private money to resume expansion plans that were killed last year by state funding reductions.

We commend the donors for seeing a need and getting involved in the process, not just through public lobbying, but also through their wallets. Not everyone will be able to write a check to help save a library, and not everyone may need to. The point is public involvement is a necessary tool in helping to keep cash-strapped libraries operating.

Last year, interested citizens saved five branches that had been targeted for closing. While the library's financial woes are far from over, patrons must remain involved in the process if they want their libraries to function well.

The state's library funds are tied to the dwindling Ohio income tax, which has taken a big hit in the slow economy. Also, money previously earmarked for libraries has been reduced, some of it shifted to education.

So the windfall for Clifton is going to make a dramatic difference in its operation, said executive director Kimber L. Fender, who estimated that the expansion could be completed by early summer.

The Clifton branch, one of the smallest in the 41-branch library system, will add 800 square feet of space, bringing its total to 2,400 square feet. It will add a new entrance, enlarge its children's area, provide a reading area with additional seating and get room for more computers.

The branch last year circulated more than 225,000 books, an increase of 6 percent over 2001.

With all state-funded agencies hurting for cash, these anonymous gifts take on greater significance. It's an example that others can follow as they seek ways to keep their community libraries operating. For more information log on to (www.CincinnatiLibrary.org) .




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