With recent cuts to federal and state funding for Pennsylvania libraries, keeping people, especially children, literate and reading is a major concern to many. On Friday and Saturday the Penn-Kidder Library Center, located at the Pine Point Plaza on Route 903, officially opened its doors to the community.
According to the president of Penn-Kidder Library Center Incorporated, Barbara Franzosa, the 12-foot by 56-foot William Scotsman modular unit houses over 4,000 books and movies, 95 percent of which were donated. Its website, www.pennkidderlibrary.org, has a card catalog which tracks your checkouts and even offers 100 free downloadable e-books.
The center also offers two public desktop computers, Internet lessons and "read to me" classes for children, free wireless Internet, copy/fax services, income tax forms, and a public meeting area with an adjoining deck for outdoor activities. Franzosa says there is still room for more books and they are accepting donations.
The opening attracted many visitors from the Pine Point Plaza, who were passing through during their trip to the grocer or bank. Other visitors had come to see the new library center, buy some used books, and enjoy the Health and Wellness Fair, which occurred simultaneously and featured other businesses in the plaza. Groups of children from Discovery Years day care center visited the center and left smiling with books in hand.
Some youngsters read quietly in the children's reading nook. Expressions of delight shone on their faces as they turned the pages. Albrightsville resident Victoria Ress, 9, came to the library with her 3-year-old sister Sommer and their mother, Michelle. Sommer sat in a small yellow rocking chair with her face buried in a book. She seemed very happy to be reading while her sister picked out a non-fiction book about science and animals.
"I like non-fiction because it has a lot of facts," Victoria Ress said as she picked out two more science books and went to check them out at the desk.
On both Friday and Saturday, local authors were at the center signing books and conversing with patrons. On Friday Gene Duffy, author of As the Matzo Ball Turns informally discussed his works in film and media. He produced, wrote, and hosted TV-13's Freedom Report and is an accomplished actor, writer, and producer with a second film in production.
On Saturday, from 10 a.m. until noon, teacher and author of A to Z Character Education for the Classroom, Sherry Hoffman, casually spoke with visiting teachers and parents about the points in her book. From noon until 2 p.m., Joe Paretta, author of Master the Card: Say Goodbye to Credit Card Debt … Forever!, counseled some curious patrons on how to reduce their debt.
Thanks to private donors, the Penn-Kidder Library Center raised $40,000 dollars and opened despite cuts to federal and state funding.
"We were fortunate to have started our library after the economy tanked. We never had state or federal funding, so we didn't base our budget on it," Franzosa explained.
"We received funding from the township and county level but it was barely anything; we got and will get most of our funding from private donors. Without people that care we won't be able to do this."
According to its brochure, the estimated annual cost to run the center is $18,300, which is about $2,000 less than the average annual income for residents of both Penn Forest and Kidder townships.
The center also offers opportunities for people, young and old, to volunteer. Twelve-year-old Albrightsville resident Rhiannon Malette will be volunteering at the center all summer.
"I like helping people find books because I like to read. I want others to like reading and with today's technology, it can be harder to find the right book because there is just so much out there," Malette said.
The center will be accepting book and money donations year-round. For more information about the library, call (570) 215-4105, or contact them by email at email@example.com.