Strengthening the link between libraries and legislators

CML leaders join library representatives from across Ohio in advocating on behalf of public libraries

Ohioans are fortunate to have outstanding public libraries—whether in our largest cities or rural areas—that are the heart of our communities. State funding through the Public Library Fund is essential to maintaining our libraries’ excellence, providing a level of support unmatched in the rest of the nation.

Ohio’s elected representatives and senators have long been committed to supporting public libraries, recognizing the vital impact of the resources and services they provide. But Columbus Metropolitan Library does not take this support for granted. Every year, CML leaders join library representatives from across the state to visit with legislators to advocate on behalf of Ohio’s public libraries.

Ohio Library Council (OLC), the statewide professional association that represents public libraries, trustees, staff and vendors that serve libraries, organizes an annual Legislative Day.

In preparation for this important event, OLC reviews legislation before the Ohio House and Senate that impacts Ohio libraries and develops talking points and materials to share with elected officials. Each year, OLC develops a theme for its message. This year, Ohio Libraries Lead highlighted the ways in which public libraries help create strong economies and healthy communities, including support for workforce development, job seekers, entrepreneurship, internet access and collaborating to address the opioid epidemic.

On April 11, Pat Losinski, CML CEO, Nikki Scarpitti, Director of Strategic Initiatives, and Trustee Katie Chatas worked together to get the message out about CML’s value to our community. Meeting with members of the Central Ohio delegations, the CML team received an enthusiastic reception: representatives and senators know how much their constituents love our libraries! While the Public Library Fund was not on the legislative agenda (it appears in alternate years), the CML team reminded the legislators of the importance of their future support for this funding.

However important state funding of public libraries will always be, other legislation also impacts libraries, sometimes in unexpected ways. For instance, a proposed law that changes how public entities use credit and debit cards could impact CML administrative policies and procedures, while the Broadband Development Grant Program could help public libraries to extend broadband access to underserved areas of Ohio.

Strong relationships between CML and elected leaders ensure that the library’s needs and interests remain a priority, regardless of the political and economic climate in our state. Along with the support from Friends of the Library, library customers and Ohio citizens, this advocacy ensures that Ohio public libraries fulfill their mission.

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