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Penn Area Library sees strong response with direct-mail campaign to patrons | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Penn Area Library sees strong response with direct-mail campaign to patrons

Patrick Varine
| Friday, February 22, 2019 9:32 a.m
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Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Above, the front desk at the Penn Area Library on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.
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Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Above, the Penn Area Library on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.

Patrons of the Penn Area Library recently received a letter from library officials seeking donations as part of a direct-mail campaign, the first it has undertaken.

But it likely won’t be the last.

“We’ve been thinking about this for several years now,” said library treasurer Alice Ainsworth.

Encouraged after speaking with Delmont Public Library officials — who have been able to raise $1 million in about four years to further their goal of building a new library — the Penn Area Library board decided to put a call out to its roughly 4,000 patrons.

“People came in the next day with checks in hand,” said library director Dorene Miller. “We set a goal of $10,000, and we’re already around $7,000.”

Miller said one man who came in to donate asked why the library hadn’t already done a direct-mail campaign.

“We were very pleased at the response,” she said.

Delmont library officials have found significant chunks of funding for their library through the pursuit of donors able to match large pots of small donations. One such agreement netted the library $20,000.

Miller said the Penn Area board had not yet moved in that direction, “but I think it’s a great idea.”

Receipts from the library show patrons a running total of the money they save by checking out books instead of purchasing them. Ainsworth said one donor opted to give back 10 percent of the money she’d saved in 2018.

The response has been encouraging for Miller and Ainsworth.

“Sending out the letters is expensive,” Ainsworth said. “Our funding from the township and state has remained level, funding we’ve received from the high school has gone down, but our costs are going up.”

The library’s initial, smaller-scale mailer can serve as a pilot, with Ainsworth and Miller taking the numbers back to the board as they consider a possible township-wide direct-mail campaign.

“And I think down the road we’ll do another one for patrons as well,” Ainsworth said.

Residents who did not receive a mailer are still welcome to donate to the library. For more, call 724-744-4414 or see PennLib.org.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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