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'Communities Matter' to Tener library's survival

| Saturday, April 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
JIM FERENCE I TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Guest librarian and John K. Tener Library board member Don Henderson checks out Linda V. Stennett, president of the library board Wednesday, April 3, 2013, in Charleroi.

The theme for National Libraries Week is “Communities Matter.”

For the John K. Tener Library, communities matter if the facility is to survive.

Increased financial support from its member communities has helped the library turn the corner, although it is still running at a deficit.

Thus the library will celebrate throughout April. Local municipal leaders are participating – or in some cases are being asked to participate – in a monthlong event to raise awareness of the worthiness of the library.

“We decided to have library month because we wanted to highlight the different communities,” said Linda Stennett, president of the library board.

The library will host various guest book checkers at the check-out desk throughout the month.

Charleroi Borough manager and former Fallowfield Township Supervisor Donn Henderson became the first guest checker on Wednesday. Charleroi Mayor Nancy Ellis took a turn, even leading a story time for children.

Washington County Assistant District Attorney Mike Lucas will also be a guest checker.

On April 22, Dunlevy Council President Dana Landman and Vice President Becky Hammond will serve as guest checkers.

To coincide with the guest, the library will display information concerning the community being represented that day.

Stennett will be the guest bingo caller for a children's bingo game this Wednesday. She expressed hope that additional public officials will volunteer. They can do so by calling the library at 724-483-8282.

The monthlong spotlight on its member communities comes as the library continues to battle its bottom line.

As recently as last year, the Tener Library was receiving just 13 percent of its funds from its member communities. In contrast, the state library code suggests community support approach 59 percent. Over much of the past year, library board members have attended public municipal meetings, seeking increased funding. It had mixed results.

For 2013, the Charleroi library budgeted $18,647 from the county and its local member communities as such:

• Charleroi Area School District, $3,000

• Charleroi $3,500

• Dunlevy $,2,000

• Fallowfield Township, $1,000

• North Charleroi, $500

• Speers, $1,000

• Washington County, $9,047

Stennett said Stockdale gave $250 and Twilight $100 in 2012, but they have not heard from either yet in 2013.

Stennett said the library board is thankful for the increased support from Dunlevy, Charleroi, North Charleroi and Speers and anticipates continued support from Stockdale and Twilight.

Ironically, Fallowfield Township — which has three residents on the library board — did not commit any funding to the library. When Dorso L.P. of Wexford completed a construction project in Fallowfield, the township returned the company's $1,000 bond. At the township's request, the company contributed that money to the library for 2012.

But Stennett said the library board is seeking sustainable financial commitments from the communities it serves.

The situation is improving, Stennett said. The board had to use $38,000 from the library's savings to sustain the facility in 2012. At that rate, the savings — from gifts to the library — would run out in a little over two years.

Stennett said she felt the push for community funding has had some success with the communities, but the library is still financially behind.

“Our push last year helped us,” Stennett said. “We're projecting to only take $16,900 this year from our savings.”

“We're in better shape than we were. We're appreciative, but there's always more needs.”

The Friends of the Tener Library have become active for the first time in years, Stennett said. She credited that to the organization's new president Heather Wollett. The group is planning a fundraising holiday bash for November.

“After our last year's campaign to be placed in municipal budgets, we are even more assured that communities do indeed matter,” Stennett said. “It counts that we work together to make our home places a part of a community with viable resources like a library where print and electronic resources abound, job search and resume help are there for the asking, where children can learn the wonder of books, and adults discuss topics, get e-books and spend leisure time.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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