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Ohio means bookworms a plenty

The politest people may live in South Carolina and the largest walleye was pulled out of Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee. But Ohio’s claim to fame favors the intellectual.

According to a Yahoo report last week, Ohio is ranked at having the highest number of per capita library visits out of all 50 states.

That statistic doesn’t surprise Briggs Lawrence County Library director Joe Jenkins

“A lot of that is attributable to the state providing significant funding for public libraries,” Jenkins said. “Obviously we have seen that erode over the last decade due to economic circumstances. But that helped to equalize the libraries.”

According to a Public Libraries Survey, there are 251 public libraries in the state with 92,280,000 visits made in a year. That comes down to each cardholder in the state making eight visits a year.

In 2013, all five branches at Briggs had a total of 5,026 visitors each week spending 220 hours a week there. There are 27,000 active cardholders with 7,000 of those juveniles.

Public libraries get their funding from the state that distributes state income, sales and corporate activities taxes according to a formula that was set up in the mid 1980s.

“Originally it was intended to equalize the level of service across the state,” Jenkins said. “It was partly in response to the state’s desire to make changes in the tax structure.”

In 2013 Briggs’ total budget was $1,846,000 from state funding, fines and fees. Of that $1,802,000 came from the state.

Recently Briggs joined libraries from Scioto, Meigs, Vinton and Jackson to form the Ohio Valley Library Consortium. That has tripled the total physical collection available to local library patrons from 275,000 to 800,000.

“So with popular items, there are a lot more available,” Jenkins said. “If we have five copies, now there are 20 copies.”