2012-11-14 / Front Page

County Library Facing 2013 Budget Deficit

Annual appeal letter being sent to library supporters
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

NEWS EDITOR

The Fulton County Library and its Board of Directors are faced with the possibility of starting the 2013 calendar year with a budget deficit they hope can be reduced in part by increased support from library patrons, community supporters and the county.

Library Executive Director Jamie Brambley sat down with the board Monday night to give an overview of next year’s proposed budget that sets tentative expenditures at $274,690. Looking at potential avenues for income that include $51,625 in state aid; $5,650 in municipality contributions; $78,000 from the Friends of the Library and $40,000 in other donations, the library is expected to start the year with a shortfall of $42,929.

Also included in the library’s budgetary figures is a pending request for $10,000 from the Fulton County Board of County Commissioners. In comparison to other eighth-class counties, the local library is fifth out of six on the list in terms of county aid. Topping the list is Cameron County, which receives a contribution of $69,016. Fulton County is next to last, with Montour County’s Danville community library bringing up the rear with $4,500 in county aid.

The $10,000 request recently made to the commissioners for 2013 represents a proposed $2,500 increase in funding based on a need to reduce the budget shortfall, maintain existing library services and possibly upgrade out-of-date technology.

According to Brambley, who is in the process of mailing out the annual appeal letter to several hundred library supporters, so much could be done if additional funding could be obtained. Patron computers are nearly 10 years old, and the outdated software systems are not as user-friendly as they once were.

In addition to updating those systems, Brambley said her future goals include establishing a technology center to include eBook readers, a machine to convert VHS tapes to DVD and other modernized equipment. She went on to say that more outreach and educational efforts could be done for under-served patrons such as the “tween” group and establishing a branch location in the southern end of the county. Currently, a book return, a small rotating group of books and a computer are offered at Dott Village Store as part of an agreement between store owners and the library.

Unfortunately, Brambley said she realizes her goals must be achieved while relying on existing staff that includes four full-time employees, four part-time and 12 volunteers, who are shared between the McConnellsburg and Hustontown locations.

“We’re limited with what can do in terms of staffing,” stated Brambley. “Regardless of their designation, volunteers still require the same amount of supervision and training. Fortunately, we have a very dedicated staff that allow us to do what we do best – serve the county.”

In fact, the number of library card holders has continued to grow over the years, which is likely a sign of the economy. The library currently serves just shy of 9,640 patrons with the vast majority being county residents. Library officials are hoping to meet their goal of 10,000 patrons soon.

“The library is more than a place to pick up a fiction book ... It’s a place where people can meet face-to-face and share ideas,” Brambley pointed out. “Through our programming and services, we are a champion of all age groups from Family Place activities, the summer reading program, adult Book Club, free movie nights and the Teen Advisory Board.”

Known as TAB, the group was created four years ago in hopes of bringing together teens from around the county and increase their involvement at the library. Self-sufficient, the teens operate without any financial assistance from the library through a variety of fundraisers and an annual carwash.

Just like TAB, the library serves the entire county and not just residents from Mc- Connellsburg, where its main operation is based. With that in mind, library officials have increased fundraising activities to help expand offerings and services.

In part by the ongoing efforts of board Director Susanne Reed, the library has performed raffles throughout the year as well as at the Strawberry Festival and Fulton Fall Folk Festival. All items raffled were donated and included a gun safe, one-day and weekend trips and goodie baskets.

The library also continues to host its popular plant, bake and book sale during the spring months and a followup book sale in the fall. Furthermore, the annual “Tree of Giving” will be erected in the library’s lobby following Thanksgiving. The tree allows patrons to select paper mittens that designate an item to be sponsored, whether it be a large-print book, a DVD or paper goods and postage.

“We’ve never done this much fundraising in the past, and we’re always on the lookout for grants too,” stated Brambley, who added given tough economic times there is significant competition for grant funding streams.

“Any analysis would show you the library is a smart investment,” she concluded.

Even though the library sends out an annual appeal letter to only several hundred residents and businesses, any resident wishing to make a contribution can do so by mailing their donation to Fulton County Library, Attention: Library Director, 227 North First Street, McConnellsburg, PA 17233.

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