Library seeks help from Birmingham

West Chester branch hard hit by economy, cuts in state funds

By Nicole Brown, Correspondent,

The West Chester Public Library.

BIRMINGHAM —  In the midst of this economic recession, the West Chester Public Library reached out to the township for assistance. At the supervisors meeting on Monday night, two representatives from the library formally requested an annual donation from the township of $2,000 to $3,000.

The West Chester Public Library has served as a resource to the community for over 100 years and continues to be a popular spot for all ages. Nearly 30% of Birmingham’s residents (about 1,200 people) hold West Chester library cards.

Damon Kletzien, one of the library’s representatives, explained that although financial support for the library has dropped – 30% less from the state and 11% less from the county – usage of the library has increased by 20% over the past year. With less money and more members, the library is making do with the staff they have, but they could use more employees.

Therefore, the library is in need of some help, which starts with local support. Kletzien says that according to the Pennsylvania Library Code, state support is based on local support. The more local townships donate, the more the state will donate.

Kletzien also added that the library is trying to raise money themselves. Their annual fundraiser this year doubled their income, but it still isn’t enough. Doubling or tripling the township’s current donation of $1,000, however, could make a difference for the library.

“Some examples of what the library can do with $1,000 are purchase 75 e-books, pay for a month’s worth of “story times” for children, purchase half of the magazine subscriptions in one month, or pay a month’s worth of staff time helping members with job applications on the library’s computers,” said director of the library, Victoria Dow.

With the limited money the library has they have had to cut back on the materials they purchase, which Dow says is what any new funding will be spent on.

The supervisors could not say whether they will be able to increase the township’s donation or not, but the proposal will be discussed at the 2012 budget meeting on October 5, 2011. The township already gave its $1,000 donation for 2011 in June.

After the library’s presentation, two residents, Jeff Taylor and Linda Kaat, purposed turning the Radley Run Mansion into an inn to the board. The Radley Run Mansion is one of three historical buildings on the Radley Run Country Club property. The buildings have been on the property since the mid 1700s.

Taylor relayed that their goal is to have 11 rooms available in the mansion and a suite in one of the other buildings, the Doll Cottage. He estimated that the project will cost about $1.3 million.

Supervisor William Kirkpatrick asked if the Radley Run Country Club is supporting their efforts. Taylor said it was and he plans to have a town meeting to notify the neighbors about the project to allow them to voice any concerns.

Supervisor Alfred Bush commented that preservation of the buildings is important to the township and that they must keep that in mind as they move forward with their plans. Taylor agreed, adding that their mission is “preservation with sustainability.”

The remainder of the meeting was spent approving a heat pump replacement for the township building, a National Penn Bank banner for the township’s 325th year celebration, and advertising for the sale of a Police vehicle.

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