Fundraising campaign launched for Besore Library

Sharon Baumbaugh, left, president of Friends of the Library, presented the first formal check toward Besore's capital campaign, to PJ Wertime, first president of FOL and honorary chair of the steering committee. Advocates for the expansion and improvements hope to raise $1.2 million by 2012.

Three years of planning kicked into high gear Monday, with the announcement of a capital campaign for The Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library. The Besore Board and a newly-appointed steering committee met with community leaders and supporters July 19 to explain the project, originally conceived to bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Through word of mouth on the needs of the aging structure, $25,000 was contributed in the past few weeks, the first step toward the $1.2 million goal. Another $2,500 was donated on the spot by Friends of the Library.

Patti Divelbiss, spokesman for the committee, told the group of 40 gathered in the children's room in the basement, "I believe in this project, this town, and what we can do together."

The fundraising campaign is intended to allow an expansion, with the main entrance lobby to be shifted to the back of the building, where the current parking lot is.  It will include an elevator and ADA-compliant restrooms. With the purchase of adjacent land, the additional space will be used for parking and outdoor activities. Upgrades will include new windows, lighting, and heating and air-conditioning systems. The children's area will be moved to the main level, and a community room and kitchen will accommodate 100 people. The computer and teen areas will be redesigned.

The proponents of the plan are confident the community will come through.

"Every town has certain places that are the lifeblood of the community," stated Kay Witmer, a member of the Board of Directors. "In Greencastle the library is one of those places."

Sharon Baumbaugh, president of Friends of the Library, was not intimidated with the pricetag. "With the help of some who can give many dollars, and the help of many who can give some dollars, we can accomplish much."

The board worked with Newcomer Associates and builder Frank Traver to design a facility that will increase accessibility, lower operational costs and improve the space for all library programming. Architect Jennifer Greenlee and Traver explained that the library changes were practical and cost-effective.

"The new children's space will have the modern invention of running water," added Witmer, who pointed out that was not available in the basement.

The presenters explained that libraries of today were far from outdated, instead growing in popularity because of the services offered. People visited Besore to check out books, order passports, research, use computers, play chess, attend classes and programs for all ages, take proctored tests and visit the historical room.

The capital campaign committee is charged with the task of informing the public about the needs and the plans for the library. Members are PJ Wertime, honorary chair; Wayne Baumbaugh, Patricia Divelbiss, Amelia Kasinof, Frank Klink, Becky Mercado, Bud O'Mara, Attilio Paci, Tom Pensinger and Kay Witmer. Groundbreaking is anticipated in early 2013. Contributions are accepted at the library, online through the website and during special events. Naming opportunities exist for donations between $10,000 and $500,000. All direct donations will also be permanently recognized in a Book of Donors. Higher level donors will be recognized on a plaque displayed in the library.

The board and committee's faith in the public's response was summarized by Divelbiss, "This building is the town's history and the town's future."

This is what the back of the Besore Library will look like following a renovation project.