Final chapter for Darby Library?

January 22, 2009 4:18:45 PM PST
The writing's been on the wall for awhile, but now the deteriorating economy could spell the final chapter for America's oldest library.Darby Free Library has been open for 266 years.

But, its history is not the only reason residents want to see this neighborhood institution remain open.

The library is an afternoon destination for students whose afterschool programs have been eliminated because of budgetary restraints and the library also provides high-speed internet service to the thousands of residents, many whom can't afford their own computer.

Now, the money troubles extend to the library itself.

"We're down to where there is very few capital dollars left and, at the end of this year, we won't have the money to support a public library any longer," said library director Susan Borders.

The library will need an extra $30,000 per year to stay open. The money will cover the rising costs of books, minimum wage, building maintinence and utilities.

"Its something we need to look at and see what we can do on our end to keep it open," said borough manager Mark Possenti.

The Borough Council says it already increased the amount of taxes dedicated to funding the library last year. But the library director says each resident is still paying less than 5 dollars a year to keep the facility open.

Council members believe the monetary problems are not insurmountable, and want to help the library look for alternative sources of income, like donations or fundraisers.

Some faithful library users may be one step ahead of them.

"My wife and I are hoping to do a fundraiser, a concert for the library sometime later this year," said John Haigis of Darby.

"We're doing everything we can to support the community. Now its the community's turn to support us," Border said.

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