Free library struggles with business costs

February 24, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer

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Blue Ridge Summit Free Library

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, Pa. - The Blue Ridge Summit Free Library is on the corner of two states and four counties, so it's no wonder that its 3,000-plus patrons call the library their own, no matter where they call home.

The library, a converted railroad passenger station that once served the wealthy who summered in Blue Ridge Summit, is 50 feet from the Mason-Dixon Line, said Librarian Nancy Bert, 60.

The building, a gray one-story chunk of architecture that resembles most passenger stations that dotted the American landscape early in this century, is trimmed in hot pink.


Geography puts the library barely inside the southeastern edge of Franklin County, Pa., less than a mile from Adams County, Pa., less than a half-mile from Frederick County, Md., and a stone's throw from Washington County.

It serves 1,340 patrons from Franklin County, 749 from Washington County, 469 from Frederick County and 452 from Adams County, plus a few others, according to the library's 1997 annual report.

Frederick County donates money to the library for serving its residents. Until last year, Washington County also made a contribution.

The $3,500 once sent by Washington County but now discontinued will put a dent in the library's $32,000 budget, Bert said. It has already cost the position of the assistant librarian.

The library's board of directors wants the Washington Township, Pa., Supervisors to make up the difference, Bert said. The township already gives the library $1,000 a year, according to Township Manager Michael Christopher.

Christopher said he sent library board members a letter last month recommending that they ask the Washington County Commissioners for the money, since the library serves that county's residents.

"With a well-organized approach, perhaps the possible decision not to fund your library in the future can be reversed," Christopher's letter said.

The rest of the library's budget comes from its share of the library tax collected from Franklin County municipalities and townships, the state and local fund-raisers, Bert said.

The board has had to dip into its $50,000 reserve funds in recent years to meet operating expenses. The reserve fund is for building repairs and maintenance.

The library opened in the second floor of a church across the street in 1922. The railroad station shut down in 1957 and the next year the Western Maryland Railroad gave it and 1.5 acres of land to the library.

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