CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County Public Library officials are using their experience from last November's failed levy attempt to plan a more aggressive campaign for the next attempt.
While voters overwhelmingly rejected a joint levy last year that would've brought in more than $24 million for schools and $3 million for libraries, the library board's Restructuring Committee hopes a library-only levy will be easier to get voters to support.
Library Director Alan Engelbert said at a committee meeting Friday he planned to distribute contact information of Kanawha County Board of Education Members to library employees, and urged them to contact them and ask that they sponsor the levy.
The library is legally not a levying body and needs the Board of Education or County Commission to do it on their behalf.
"We'll all do what we can. Getting it on the ballot is not a piece of cake. We'll need a lot of help," KCPL Board of Directors President Mike Albert said. "I don't know what the board of education is going to do. The rumblings are not favorable. But I think we've got a good story to tell."
But beyond actually getting the County Board of Education to put the levy on the ballot, library committee members said it's important to reach out to the public more than they have in the past.
"We need to make sure that we start very early on this thing," library committee member Nelle Chilton said. "We need to get out there more, and we ought to start now. But it's a catch-22. It takes staffing and resources. But it seems to me that's where we should be putting our resources."
Since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Kanawha County School system one year ago, striking down a law that forced some school systems in the state to give a portion of its funding to libraries, KCPL has had to cut hours and events and stopped filling vacant positions.
The funding from the school system made up about 40 percent of the libraries' total operating budget, and could mean massive closures ahead.
Committee member Michelle Foster said this time, a grassroots approach is crucial to the levy's success.