Libraries join Pennsylvania system

April 22, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Hardly noticed but important changes took place earlier this month at the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library in Waynesboro and the small Blue Ridge Summit Library.

Both joined the Franklin County Library System - the Alexander Hamilton Library on its own and the Blue Ridge Summit Library because it merged with the Waynesboro library.

It means more money for both libraries plus a guarantee the Blue Ridge Summit Library will continue to exist.

The moves leave Franklin County with only one independent library - Fendrick Library in Mercersburg, Pa. - although the Waynesboro library will still retain its autonomy.

"We will become a federated autonomous member of the Franklin County Library System," said Waynesboro Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger. "We will make our own decisions and maintain our own local board of directors."


Previously the Waynesboro Borough Council, which owns the building that houses the Hamilton library adjacent to the Borough Hall on East Main Street, gave the local library board about $32,000 a year.

Waynesboro taxpayers will now join their county counterparts and pay 1.5 mills to the Franklin County Commissioners to fund county wide library services. One mill represents $1,000 in assessed property value.

The new tax will raise about the same as the amount the borough council paid each year for local library services, Hamberger said.

The money comes to the counties from the state, usually in a match of 66 cents for each local dollar raised, including the county contribution and money raised in local fund-raisers.

Berniece Crouse, spokeswoman for the county library system, said Waynesboro's entry will strengthen the whole system. The state is pushing for countywide library services rather services provided by individual local libraries.

"This will help our patrons because we will be able to offer faster services, especially in areas that were poorly served," Crouse said.

Nancy Bert, librarian at Blue Ridge Summit, said her library had to join with Waynesboro in order to meet new state standards that mandate times open, certification of librarians and other criteria.

Bert and Deborah Simpson, assistant librarian, are the only employees in the Blue Ridge Summit Library. Although small, because of its location on the Mason-Dixon Line, the library serves patrons in four counties in two states, including Franklin and Adams in Pennsylvania and Washington and Frederick in Maryland.

The new standards require Blue Ridge Summit to stay open 45 hours a week instead of the 26 it now operates.

"We could not do that with just two of us working here" Bert said.

Bert said she is taking continuing education courses toward her certification.

"This will mean more money for us too," Bert said. "We'll be getting 66 cents from the state for every dollar we spend."

Local fund drives for the library usually bring in about $4,500, she said.

The Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library board of directors will add two new members from Blue Ridge Summit, Crouse said.

Franklin County's other libraries include Coyle Free Library in Chambersburg, which serves as headquarters for the county system; Ragged Edge Library, also in Chambersburg; the Lillian E. Besore Memorial Library in Greencastle; branches in Fort Loudon and St. Thomas; and the bookmobile.

The county closed the Mont Alto branch library in 1998 because of costs and lack of patrons. Some days no one would come into the library, which was located in a back room in the log cabin which serves as the Mont Alto Borough Office.

The Herald-Mail Articles