As a new year approaches, the James V. Brown Library is struggling to meet an increased demand for services from the community while facing continued cuts in state funding. As revenues decrease, the need for library resources is greater than ever, according to Executive Director Janice Trapp.
"State funding has been cut 30 percent over the past two years," Trapp said.
This has resulted in a $200,000 reduction in income, and the library is having trouble filling the gap.
The library no longer is open on Sundays, and Trapp said many library patrons are unhappy with the change.
"It would be lovely to have Sundays again, but these are the kinds of sacrifices that you have to make," she said.
The library also began charging fees for DVD rentals, which has garnered complaints, but things are unlikely to change as the library faces a budgetary deficit in the upcoming year.
"The deficit budget for next year is over $100,000," said CFO Shirley Alters.
"That's the gap that we're hoping to close with fundraising," said Development Coordinator Robin Glossner.
The library launched its 2011 annual fund drive in late October, sending out more than 5,000 letters to community members reminding them of the library's needs. So far, Glossner said the library has received more than 150 gifts, but the campaign for donations is far from over.
"The annual fund is a lot more than just one mailing," Trapp said.
In fact, the campaign continues year-round. Library staff, board members and volunteers keep the annual fund running throughout the year by creating brochures, holding fundraising events and calling donors to express their gratitude for contributions to the fund. While the annual fund primarily consists of monetary donations, donors have several options in addition to writing out a check.
"We encourage people to give in other ways also," Glossner said.
Community members can support the library by donating property, life insurance or stocks. Donors also have the option of making a pledge, which allows them to give a small amount each month rather than one large chunk each year.
"We do have a number of monthly givers," Glossner said.
Many ways to give
While donations to the annual fund are spent in the area of the most need, library patrons also can select specific library programs and services to support. The library allows community members to "adopt" various library offerings for donations starting at $8. Library patrons who would like to encourage early childhood education can support the Books & Babies Program with an $8 donation, which offers a "Baby Kit" to parents of newborns including a free board book, brochures on the importance of reading to and with children, a stuffed animal and baby's first library card. Those who would like to offer a favorite magazine to the community can donated $100 to Adopt-A-Magazine, which will supply a year's subscription and recognize the donor with a sticker on each magazine. Those who would like to support a favorite author or book collection can endow the library with a collection. Many more options are listed on the library's website, www.jvbrown.edu.
A creative new program the library began offering in 2010 is the Own a Day sponsorship.
"That one's a lot of fun," Glossner said. "It makes a wonderful holiday gift."
For $100, a sponsor can choose a favorite day - for themselves, a loved one or a complete stranger - to "own" at the library. The library prints the name of the person whose day it is on each receipt and recognizes their day on the outgoing calendar. Several families had fun with the Own a Day program by honoring their dogs, Glossner said.
Community need growing
The library's fundraising efforts are an attempt to maintain the services that are becoming more and more important to the community during the economic recession. Trapp noted that while most people immediately associate the library with books, the services extend far beyond book-lending.
"What we do is a whole lot more important than that," she said.
The library continues to offer more services to meet local needs. Community members can prepare to take their GED or their commercial driver's license through library courses; they can learn to read or improve their literacy skills with library tutors; and those who cannot afford cable TV or the Internet can use the library's computers and check out its DVD collection. The library offers passport services and even rents fishing equipment.
"We're adding, all the time, new outreaches," Trapp said.
One of the library's priorities is childhood education, and programs are offered for children of all ages.
"The children in our community need opportunities for programs, for story times, for exposure to the arts," Trapp said.
Making a difference
For more information on donating to the library, contact Glossner at 326-0536 ext. 135, or visit www.jvbrown.edu/support.html. Donations also can be mailed to James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Fourth St., Williamsport, PA 17701.