Antrim supervisors pledge up to $120,000 to Besore

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

It didn’t take much convincing by members of the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library Capital Campaign Committee. William Needy, Patti Divelbiss and Kay Witmer made a presentation May 31 to the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors. They asked for financial assistance to reach their $1.2 million goal to make the library handicap accessible, put in infrastructure improvements, increase energy efficiency in the 50-year-old building, modestly expand space and add to the parking.

The Antrim Township Board of Supervisors already had some numbers in mind, but they surprised the trio with their offer. Rick Baer, Curtis Myers, Sam Miller and Fred Young III unanimously agreed to donate $40,000 to the project immediately, and to issue a challenge to the citizens. They will add up to $80,000 in matching funds donated locally by Aug. 1, 2012.

“You guys are fantastic,” said Divelbiss, committee chair.

“Thank you!” added Witmer, Besore Association board chairman.

They and Needy, a member of the board and committee, shook hands with the supervisors. Bud O’Mara, who prepared the informational packet, and supervisor James Byers were not present.

The library’s needs

Divelbiss explained that the Besore building, owned by the association, did not receive any funding from the Franklin County Library System for maintenance or capital improvements. FCLS paid for books, salaries, benefits and retirement. Besore’s 2010 budget was $200,875 and the crew was disappointed to learn it was only raised to $203, 035 for 2011.

Besore’s trust fund, set up in 1963 by Calvin Besore in memory of his mother Lilian, drew only $15,098 per year and was dedicated to maintenance expenses. The money went for repairs, insurance, copier expenses, water and sewer, snow removal and lawn care, security, pest control and trash pickup. Additional receipts came from Antrim Township and Borough of Greencastle donations of $5,000 each, copy fees and DVD rentals, passport fees, annual appeals, Franklin County, Friends of the Library, and grants. Last year that resulted in income of $56,293, with expenses carefully held to $34,759.

Divelbiss said usage at the library had increased the past three years, with 62 percent of the library card holders living in the township. Greencastle residents accounted for 20 percent, and the rest came from other communities, including Hagerstown, Md. Usage numbers in 2010 for various categories were: cardholders, 9,025; child participants, 6,430; books/media checkouts, 67,152; computer use, 11,249; reference questions, 12,864; and patron visits, 70,929.

Besore had four fulltime and two parttime employees to serve the public.

“We will always be there for early childhood and families,” said Witmer, “but the services are always changing.”

While retaining the best of past materials and programs, the library was shifting to technological services and the computers were always popular. More material was available through online outlets, Pennsylvania was rolling out a literacy initiative next January, and Besore was keeping abreast of new ways to serve the patrons.

Needy reminded the supervisors that when the schools were closed, so were their libraries, so Besore filled a need for students. Witmer added that if the school district cut after school outlets for children, they would be coming to the library for activities.

As of April, the Capital Campaign Committee had raised $195,323 and another $41,000 in pledges. It hoped to break ground next spring to begin Phase I, which would include an elevator. The addition would come later.

“It’s nothing fancy we’re trying to do,” said Divelbiss. “It’s functional.”

The supervisors upped the outright donation from $20,000 to $40,000, anxious for the committee to break ground. They supported the matching portion as a way to engage the community.

“What people don’t understand is, no contribution is too small,” said Baer.