Harrisburg Library feels financial pinch


The Harrisburg Library is only open 25 hours per week. If funds do not start coming in, that number may decrease.

"Our funds are slim and our budget keeps going down," said Ellen Dawson, library manager.

They are asking for donations to keep them in business.

Approximately 15 years ago, Harrisburg Library was part of the Southwest Public Library system.

"They didn’t get a levy passed and they decided to cut us loose," said Dawson.

Now, the library is independent and self supporting with no funding from the State of Ohio. They receive a revenue of one-third of a 1 percent income tax from the Village of Harrisburg, which includes about 300 people.

The library operates with two part-time employees, including Dawson, and volunteers.

"It is tough because I run a bed and breakfast and work here part-time," said Dawson. "If I’m sick or need a day off, I have to try to find a volunteer to fill in."

Dawson explained that volunteer numbers are down as well. The volunteers they have are mostly senior citizens.

"They are getting older and some have health problems so they can’t work as much," Dawson commented.

The village brought on the additional part-time employee to find grants and other funding sources for the library.

The Harrisburg Library also has a difficult time competing with the larger libraries. Dawson explained that books there still have pockets on them and they have trouble bringing in new books. They have just four computers that were donated by American Electric Power.

"It costs about $50,000 to put the books online," said Dawson. "We can’t get that kind of money."

The library relies heavily on donations. They participate in numerous fund raising activities and sell books and videos. Dawson explained that they just started collecting fines for overdue materials. Money generated from the fines will be used to purchase books.

"We are really lacking on up-to-date books," said Dawson. "We just recently got a new atlas."

In order to generate some funds, the library plans to start their own small thrift store. They are collecting items such as bedding, children’s toys and regular household items. They will not collect and sell used clothing because they do not have space.

"We have an extra room where we can store and sell some things," said Dawson. "Hopefully, it will be profitable."

Dawson said the library would be in good shape if it could bring in about $25,000 annually. The library is a meeting place for senior citizens. It offers a pre-school children’s story time, an annual children’s Christmas party and an extended summer reading program. It is also the main place for local kids to go to do their homework and use a computer.

The Harrisburg Library is located at 1036 High St. and is open Monday through Thursday from 1:30 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.

"I would like to see us open longer but what we have is better than nothing," said Dawson.

For information on how to make a donation, contact Dawson at 877-4065.

The library serves approximately 1800 people in Franklin, Madison and Fayette counties.

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