Recently, residents of the Tamaqua area received a fund appeal letter asking for support of the Tamaqua Public Library, which serves the Tamaqua Area School District and other outlying areas. This is the first public appeal on such a large scale and how the people of the area respond will answer the above question.
Along with many other organizations that serve the public, the library is in financial trouble. Our problems are not due to overspending or mismanagement as we continually scrutinize our budget to identify additional area for savings while still maintaining present scope of services. Our staff salaries are already very low and we are mandated by the state us use a fixed percentage of our income on specific items.
The following breakdown of usage at the library represents but some aspects of what we provide:
* Throughout the past year, over 30,000 books have been loaned out.
* We have had an attendance of over 2,600 for our 73 children's programs, as well as over 100 for our various young adult reading programs.
* We provide over 20 different adult reading and writing programs.
* Our computer usage averaged close to 10,000 annually, answering reference questions, providing job searches and job applications at eight work stations along with Wi-Fi access. Keep in mind that our computers require constant maintenance and tech support which must be supplied by an outside provider which is very costly.
* Add to this, averages of 55 patrons per month are taking advantage of our Senior Computer Learning program.
Cutting staff or hours is not an option if we can't continue to meet the needs of our patrons. Our fiscal problems do not even reflect the condition of our building, which is overcrowded and is deteriorating at a fast pace. The condition of the building will need to be addressed at a later date.
The single biggest factor to our present situation is the reduction in funding by government agencies, both state and local. The financial support received from our school districts, our county government, and state government have been cut by over 50 percent resulting in reduction of support of over $26,000 since 2008. This figure represents almost 20 percent of our annual operating budget which is difficult to recoup with book sales, bake sales, and raffle tickets. This problem is compounded by our surrounding townships, whose citizens use the library, but do not contribute financial support at all or only minimally.
The answer to the original question depends upon the financial support of the people of the area we serve. Help us continue to serve by contributing to our appeal. The survival of our library depends upon it.
"Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation." Broadcaster Walter Cronkite.
Arthur W. Connely, board president
Tamaqua Public Library