The Wood County library levy is back on the ballots

The Wood County library levy is back on the ballot and library staff are crossing their fingers that it passes.
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 11:27 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - The Wood County library levy is back on the ballots after not passing in general elections.

The Wood County library levy has funded the local library system for ten years. Now it’s up for a renewal to cover another five.

Brian Raitz, the director of Wood County libraries, said “It’s essential. This is 30% of our funding and this is the last time to vote on it because our current one will run out June of 2023.”

Raitz said people won’t be able to vote on it for another two years if it doesn’t pass.

The money is used to pay off past projects like building the South Parkersburg Library as well as a new project, according to Raitz. He plans on using levy funding to build a new library in Williamstown. Raitz said it’s desperately needed and the Williamstown branch manager agrees.

“It would make all the difference. Our summer reading program was not even able to be held in this library and the purpose of our summer reading program is to get kids to read and we had to do it in the women’s club building in the park,” she said.

The Williamstown branch manager added that a new building would enable them to host more events.

Levy money also goes towards general operations.

While libraries might make you think of a quiet space for reading, library goers tell us it’s much more than that.

Local Marsha Houston said, “You really cannot overemphasize how useful the library is to people who may not have all the resources that everyone else has so I see people from the apartment complex from across the street from me out here reading the newspaper, getting on the internet, doing all sorts of things that they can’t afford to do or have come to their own home.”

On top of providing computers and services like printing and faxing at a low cost, the library hosts a variety of educational programs, activities, and more.

The Williamstown branch manager said, “After school is one of our busiest times when kids come in and they do homework, they do activities on the computer, they use us as a safe place before their parents come home.”

And the library serves all ages.

Darlene Martin has been using the library since the late eighties.

“It’s a wealth of information…and the librarians are so helpful. You can ask them any question and, if they don’t know it, they know where to find it,” she said.

Sixth grader Ambrose Tribett has been going to the library for as long as he can remember.

“When I came here for the very first time, I just love everything about it. I found a bunch of series that I loved, I met a lot of nice kids,” he said.

Raitz said the library system would have to take drastic measures, cutting hours and services if the levy doesn’t pass.

He added that, since it is a renewal levy, it will not raise taxes.

When WTAP reached out to viewers to see if anyone’s against the levy, one viewer called into question how many people use libraries and if it’s enough to warrant being funded by taxes.