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Penny War waged at Northland Public Library

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By Natalie Beneviat
Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, 1:40 p.m.

At the Northland Public Library, the penny is mightier than the dollar bill.

At least that's the case during the Northland Public Library's Penny War fundraiser, in which the library's various departments are trying to earn the most points by collecting the most pennies before the end of the year, according to Kellie Kaminski, director of the Northland Public Library Foundation.

But there's a catch. While a penny is worth one point, silver coins count as negative points equal to the coin's value. And all paper money is negative 100 points. So each department's staff is trying to beat the others by donating nonpenny currency into a rival department's collection container, Kaminski said.

“Everybody is having a lot of fun with it … it's a good-natured competition,” said Kaminski, of Ross Township. “It's a fun way to mix it up at the workplace.”

Kaminski, 29, said the winning department will receive a $500 grant from the foundation for a program or another expense the department has.

Library patrons also may donate to help their favorite department, Kaminski said, and the ultimate winner is the library, which is located at 300 Cumberland Road in McCandless.

This new fundraiser will help aid the library's ongoing programs, including funding for the new lending kiosks, which now are in operation at the Baierl YMCA at 2565 Nicholson Road in Franklin Park and at the Ross Township Community Center at 1000 Ross Municipal Drive, said Sandra Collins, executive director of the library.

Collins likens the kiosks to vending machines for candy or soda, but instead, they contains approximately 500 items to borrow including books, DVDs, and audiobooks. She said a formal “grand opening” for the community-center kiosk is planned for January.

The Northland Public Library is the first library in western Pennsylvania to have the lending kiosks, Kaminski said.

The fundraising idea came to Kaminski when she recalled conducting penny wars in elementary school.

“It dawned on me that it would be a fun idea in the library for a year-end campaign,” she said.

Collins, of McCandless, said some departments are getting creative with the penny-collection containers, such as the adult-services desk designing a “Plinko” game inspired by the game show “The Price is Right” to drop coins.

Or others might want to feed the administration and technical services departments' Dalmatian, a stuffed animal from which the stuffing was removed so it can be stuffed with pennies.

In the first two weeks, the library accumulated 8,000 pennies, Collins said.

The war started Nov. 15 and lasts until Monday, she said.

Kaminski said she and staff members keep track weekly and as of last Thursday, children's and young adult services was in the lead with 2,211 points, circulation was in second place with 827 points, adult services was in third place with negative 545 points, and administration/technical services in last place with negative 645 points.

Kaminski said the final count of donations will be Jan. 2, and the winner will be announced.

And if this year's fundraiser is well received, it will be held again next year, she said.

Natalie Beneviat is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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