Anonymous donor steps up for Sharpsburg Community Library | TribLIVE.com
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Tawnya Panizzi

An anonymous donor has saved the day for Sharpsburg Community Library — at least through 2019.

Leaders announced Tuesday a $10,000 donation will restore hours previously slashed because of budget constraints.

The library, at 1212 Main St., will resume operating 30 hours a week on March 4.

Hours will be 2 to 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

The site is closed Fridays and Sundays.

“It’s been really wonderful and heartening to see the community come together and rally behind what we do at the branch,” said Jill McConnell, library executive director. Sharpsburg Community Library is a branch of Cooper-Siegel Community Library.

In January, operating hours were cut to 25 a week because of “seriously low cash reserves,” McConnell said.

She and librarian Sara Mariacher addressed the community during a November meeting to announce the dire finances. Since 2014, there has been only one year the branch didn’t operate with a deficit, McConnell said.

Shortfalls were covered by cash reserves, but there are not enough funds to continue the practice, she said.

Slashing hours was a move to help balance the budget. It cut staffing costs without eliminating positions or programs.

Since then, public fundraising has helped, McConnell said.

The Sharpsburg Laundromat pledged $1 for every load of laundry done at the Main Street store in December 2018, which has brought in $1,015 for the library.

Other community members have stepped up, too, McConnell said. But the efforts have been enough only to stave off changes through 2019.

“The branch’s dire financial constraints remain an issue,” she said.

The library board is committed to creating a stream of sustainable funding in the form of grants and other sources, so the branch can continue to serve the community.

Mariacher said there has been a 19.8 percent increase in school-age circulation at the site. Book-lending for all ages is up 6.8 percent, she said.

Rooms are available to rent for meetings and parties, she said, and there are 10 computers with free WiFi and internet. The site also hosts book clubs, cooking demonstrations and STEM workshops.

“Grassroots support is so important in helping us sustain these operations,” McConnell said.

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