Southwest Public Libraries serve 127 square miles in Franklin County, more than 23% of the county's total land area, plus one square mile in Pickaway County.
SPL is the second largest library system in Franklin County. Over the past decade, the service population has grown by more than 40,000, now exceeding 130,000. The non-white portion of the population has risen from 10% to 15%, including a dramatic rise in the Latino population and significant new populations of Somalian and Russian immigrants.
Currently, more than one-third of students in the South-Western City Schools are receiving free or reduced lunches based on low income levels, and 36% of households in the district are rentals. Much of the growth, and in particular the increase in non-English speaking low income residents, has created an ethnically diverse population concentration near the geographic center of the district.
Southwest Public Libraries have the legal status of school district library, which means that the library system's territorial boundaries are coterminous with those of the South-Western City School District. This legal designation also means that the Board of Education appoints the seven citizens who serve on the library Board of Trustees, passes the library's budget requests along to the county auditor, and serves as the library's taxing authority.
The library's funding consists of money provided by the Public Library Fund which comes from the State of Ohio and from a 1 mill property tax passed by the voters in November, 2010. Patron fines and fees, donations, and interest make up less than five percent of the library's budget.
Southwest Public Libraries presently consists of two full-service regional facilities. The Grove City Library is located at 3959 Park Broadway in Grove City, and the Westland Area Library is located in the Lincoln Village Plaza at 4740 West Broad Street in Columbus. The Westland Area Library has 25,000 square feet of public service space. SPL partnered with the City of Grove City to construct the new 48,000 square foot Grove City Library that opened on October 2016. All SPL facilities are a part of the Central Library Consortium and use the Polaris integrated library system to provide patron services.
SPL's staff currently consists of about 85 positions, ranging from high school students to professional staff with advanced degrees.
Southwest Public Libraries own collections of books, recorded books, compact discs, digital video discs, and videocassettes which now total more than 300,000 items. As a partner and member of the Central Library Consortium, SPL offers access to collections which exceed 5 million items.
The library's total usage increased dramatically over the past decade. While circulation rose almost 100% during that time, it has leveled off at about 1.2 million annual loans, with more than 600,000 items used in the library each year without being loaned. Other usage indicators are increasing as well. The number of reference questions answered per year has continued to rise, but presently there is no accurate measurement for questions answered via library databases for persons who perform their own online searches in the library or on home or office computers.