Tener Library demands fair share from Fallowfield
Forget asking Fallowfield Township to allocate money for the John K. Tener Library in Charleroi — Linda V. Stennett is demanding it.
Stennett, president of the library's Board of Directors, accosted the Fallowfield Township board of supervisors at its Sept. 25 meeting, stressing theirs is the only municipality in the Charleroi Area School District that does not financially support the library.
“They have a slightly bigger population, and frankly, more money than any of our other municipalities,” Stennett said of Fallowfield. “That was my third time going in front of the board in the past few months. I was nice and sweet before. This time I said: ‘This is what we need. This is what you should do.'”
Stennett told the supervisors she estimates a quarter of Fallowfield residents use the library and it was time to pay their fair share for operating costs.
Along with county and state aid, the library receives money from six Mid-Mon Valley municipalities: Charleroi, North Charleroi, Speers, Dunlevy, Twilight and Stockdale. Stennett said the remainder of revenue comes from fundraising and donations from individuals and businesses.
“We pursue government grants all the time but you're limited to what you can use that money for,” Stennett said. “There's a lot competition for those grants and I can't use it to pay the gas bill or the water bill.”
Township Supervisor Wilbur Caldwell told Stennett during the meeting the board would consider budgeting money for the library — which is currently operating on a $96,000 budget, according to Stennett.
Caldwell reiterated that sentiment on Wednesday.
“I can't speak for any other board members, but based on the research and numbers (Stennett) presented, my personal opinion is it's worthwhile to sit down and have the discussion,” Caldwell said.
“Now, whether everyone is going to agree to do anything, I can't say.”
Stennett told the board the library currently offers 11 public computers and aims to add more, particularly for students to do research, write and print papers. She added the library offers book delivery and pickup to elderly residents like those in Fallowfield.
“I was not aware the library was as utilized as it was until she presented her information,” Caldwell said Wednesday. “I thought libraries were becoming somewhat obsolete, but with the newer technology they're trying to incorporate, it certainly warrants another look.”
Based on annual contributions by municipalities like Charleroi ($3,500 a year) and the Charleroi Area school district ($3,000), Stennett said $4,000 was a reasonable starting amount for Fallowfield.
“Twilight is the smallest – 233 people – but they manage to send us money from their budget,” Stennett said. “Really, Fallowfield not giving us anything is ridiculous when they have the biggest population … And I want them to put in their budget. I don't want to go back to them begging every year.”
Caldwell said, while there is “no time frame set” to consider Stennett's request, it could be discussed during the board's next work session on Monday Oct. 21.
“Again, I cannot speak for the other supervisors, but with it fresh in everyone's mind, we could bring up in the work meeting and take it from there,” Caldwell said.
Stennett admitted she has little leverage other than to persist in her demands.
“Our hands are tied in that regard and we would never deny access to anyone just because they live in a community that doesn't support us,” she said. “That said, we shouldn't need to do this. Our library is a community resource and we should all be supporting education, learning and growth.”
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2635.