Director’s Note- January 2020
Happy New Year, all! It’s hard to believe it’s really 2020- I don’t know about you, but doesn’t the year “2020” sound like something out of a science fiction novel?!
Looking back to 2019, the Library had it’s busiest year ever- from the highest door counts, item circulations, program attendance, and computer usage we’ve ever had! One of our biggest pieces of news in 2019 was the announcement of Challenge Grant for Children’s Services- in December, an anonymous donor issued a $25,000 challenge, giving $5,000 a year for a period of 5 years if the Library can secure $10,000 a year in pledges from the community for the next 5 years- the amount needed to fund a full-time Children’s Librarian, which will allow the Library to increase the number of children able to attend educational programs through Children’s Services expansion. As you may know, requests for more children’s programming continue to grow exponentially- we struggle to keep up with the increasing demand for programming and extended services in general at our current staffing and revenue level. The Board of Directors is appealing to all Library supporters to sign a pledge right away, so that the Library can achieve this goal as quickly as possible! Pledges can be any amount- all pledges will make a difference. We are very grateful for this anonymous donor to invest in the Downingtown Library in a way that encourages others to continue, or perhaps initiate sustained giving. Please visit http://downingtownlibrary.org/ways-to-give/ for information about making your pledge. Thank you so very much to all of you who have already done so!
Speaking of funding, many don’t realize how the Downingtown Library is funded- I understand, it’s a bit convoluted! Downingtown Library Company is a 143-year old 501(C)3 nonprofit public library, that is a member of the Chester County Library System (CCLS). Some patrons think that we are a branch of Chester County Library, but in fact, we are completely autonomous. A library system like Philadelphia’s is a “consolidated library system,” where every library is a branch- governed as a single entity with one Board of Trustees. CCLS is what’s called a “federated library system,” meaning that all of the member libraries are independent and govern themselves through their own Boards. This is why libraries have varied policies, fees, programs, and borrowing collections, to name a few. Also, in this type of library system, member libraries are responsible for raising their own funds. We are so grateful to receive significant County and State funding, which is administered to member libraries based on what’s called the “Funding Formula,” where certain measures determine what percentage of the total funding each library receives- factors like our door counts, number of Downingtown Library card-holders, circulation statistics, local financial effort, (how much we receive in donations and municipal funding each year), program attendance, and many more. This why every measure of your patronage directly helps us to receive higher levels of funding year after year!
The local municipalities in our service area (Downingtown Borough, Caln, East Brandywine, East Caln, and West Bradford Townships) also make voluntary yearly contributions, that we are so thankful for- and depend on! Governmental contributions in total (Municipal, County, and State) only provided 46% of the Downingtown Library’s annual budget, with the balance of income coming from contributed sources like individual donations, foundations, corporations, grants, and special events. We are so very grateful for all of you, whose contributions show how deeply our community values robust public library services! I hope this explanation helps, too, to explain why we cannot easily expand our services- I regularly receive feedback from patrons asking why we don’t have a museum pass program, drive-up book drop, more programs, hours on Sunday, or a larger building, to name a few common requests- this is why! The Board, Friends of the Library, staff, and volunteers work incredibly hard to both stretch every penny we receive in funding, manage costs, and brainstorm new funding opportunities so we can better meet the public’s demands for higher levels of service!
Finally, I wanted to highlight some exciting new services coming soon- a credit card payment option at the circulation desk, and scan-to-email capability at the copier- and reflect on some new promotions we initiated in 2019.
• 2 for Tuesday DVD/Audiobook rentals- every Tuesday, rent 2 of these items (mix-and-match if you’d like!) for the price of 1.
• Binge DVD rentals- check out up to 4 DVDs on the “Binge Shelves” at the end of the DVD shelves (labeled with a big “B”) for the price of 1.
• “Lucky Day Collection”- located at the end of the “New Book Shelves,” these are high-demand titles that are 7 day loans, and not able to be renewed or placed on hold. The idea is that you’ll come across a book that has a really long waiting list when you’re browsing, and it’s your “lucky day!”
• “Adopt-a-Book” and “Name-a-Shelf” fundraisers to benefit educational programming for all ages.
Learn more here: http://downingtownlibrary.org/ways-to-give/
As always, thank you all so much for being patrons and supporters of the Downingtown Library! Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions, comments, or concerns at email@example.com.
Director, Downingtown Library