Bradford Area Public Library Looking for
'Creative' Ways to Raise Money

WESB/WBRR News Director

The Bradford Area Public Library will have to come up with creative ways to raise money.

That’s according to Ed Pecht, treasurer of the library’s board of trustees, which held its annual meeting Monday evening.

Pecht explained that 85 percent of the library’s funding comes from government agencies – the state, city, Bradford Area School District, Bradford, Foster and Lafayette townships and Lewis Run Borough. But funding from the state – the biggest supporter – has dropped by 29 percent, which he said is devastating. All together, funding has dropped off by 39 percent.

He explained that library got a technology grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, federal grant money for implementation of the One Screen McKean project, which tied all the McKean County libraries together, as well as other restricted-use grants. That money was substantial, he said, explaining that by using that money other money was freed up.

But that money is not available anymore. Now the challenge is to fund projects and keep the library up and running.

“What we’re going to do is depend on our creativity and our tenacity to find other funding sources,” Pecht said. “We just simply have to get creative. There is no conventional method of funding. We’re a public library, so we can’t have a ticket booth at the front door.”

He said last year’s budget was $257,000 but expenses came to $271,000, leading the library to reduce its operating hours and have fewer people working fewer hours. That added up to a 23 percent cut in expenses.

But those kinds of cuts are not sustainable, he said.

“The general economic environment is so bad for families that they’re depending more on the library for services,” he said, adding that the library becomes the educational, informational and recreational source for families.

“As the economic vice tightens on the community, they’re going to depend more on the library,” he said.

“One of the things this board has to do … is not only make up the shortfall, we have to add about another $20,000 to that and we have to do that so we can extend the hours and really complete the mission we’ve adopted as a board,” Pecht said.

“It’s imperative that we make that up … and $30,000 isn’t going to fall out of the sky,” he said, adding there’s no government agency in any kind of financial shape to step up to the plate and offer money so they’ve got to do it on their own.

“There’s no doubt we can do that,” he said. “We’re, right now, a really good library. We want to be a really great library.”

Among the projects the board is looking to take on this year is refurbishing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, according to board member Mike Pfeil, chairman of the buildings and grounds committee.

Both the building and the system are 20 years old, and numerous repairs have already been done to the air conditioning system.

Among the projects completed last year were re-carpeting the central hallway, repaving the entrance driveway, resealing the parking lot, refurbishing public restrooms and replacing the message sign with the new electronic sign, Pfeil said.

Library personnel are also trying to come up with ways to trim operating expenses.

Library director Linda Newman explained that they’ve saved a significant amount of money on paper by changing the way they do sign-in sheets for meetings and events, among other things. They also have their own postage meter, which saves money.

Newman also gave an update on the many children’s programs the library offers, adding that they emphasis these programs “because children are our future.”

She mentioned that they will be participating in Read Across America next week for Dr. Seuss’s birthday; the spring petting zoo will be held on Good Friday; the bookmark contest celebrated its 10th anniversary; and they are also working with Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Pfeiffer Nature Center.

In conjunction with the annual Derby Gala, which raises money for the library’s endowment fund, they will be doing the Kids Derby again this year.

“We’re always looking for new programs," she said.

Katie Nussbaum gave a technology update and said the library now has 10 computers for public use as well as two additional computers in the children’s room. The library also has two iPads for public use.

She also explained that the Bradford library – the biggest in the county – is part of the online integrated library system which allows people in any community in the county to borrow books from any library.

Other libraries in One Screen McKean are Friends Memorial Library in Kane, Hamlin Memorial Library in Smethport, Mount Jewett Memorial Library and Samuel W. Smith Memorial Library in Port Allegany.


Anonymous said…
I wonder where the Error got the idea to write an article about library funding? ROFL
Anonymous said…
I'm sure the timing of the Era story is just a coinky-dink.

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