• Library Funding Update

    August 2012

    Dear Residents of Dauphin County:

    On July 25, The Library presented its current funding picture to the Dauphin County Commissioners at a public meeting. That picture, unfortunately, is a difficult one. Beginning in 2013, The Library faces an operating deficit of roughly $750,000. By the year 2016, the gap in funding will grow to more than $1.5 million.

    The deficit is not a surprise. At the end of 2008, when the County Commissioners approved a $1.7 million supplement in lieu of a tax increase, it was understood that the supplement would fund library service for the next 3 years. Instead, we stretched it for 4. This was not easily done. As an organization always looking for efficiencies and to cut costs, The Library was already very lean in 2008. Public service hours and staffing cuts made as a result of reductions in state aid in 2003 were never fully restored, and The Library has since made operational changes that reduced staff further, combining jobs and re-evaluating positions as they have come open. The recent public services department restructure has resulted in a cost savings of approximately $100,000 and we are currently looking at similar restructures in other areas. But the bulk of the cost-cutting has already been done.  

    For many years, The Library has also been very proactive in fundraising to assist with operating expenses. Your generosity has gone a long way in keeping children connected with books and adults learning for a lifetime.  

    However, the library system has made as many operational adjustments as it can while still delivering public service to the standards you deserve and have come to expect. The only long-term solution to this issue is an increase in our primary funding source, either through raising the millage rate or via another supplement from the County Commissioners. The alternatives to a funding increase are some of the bleaker scenarios we discussed at the presentation, including closing some libraries entirely or cutting their service hours in half.

    I know you have questions. As always, we are here to provide you answers. Click here to see the FAQ we have prepared on the funding issue. And please contact us here with additional questions or comments.

    More than 100,000 of you have library cards and actively use your library. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you. And now is your opportunity to speak up for the public library service that supports the values you hold dear:

    • That an educated community is a strong community
    • That all children deserve a chance to enter school ready and excited to learn.
    • That the ability to apply for a job online, get important government information and enjoy other community benefits should not be limited to those who can afford a computer or smart phone.
    • That children and families need a safe place to learn and grow together.
    • That trustworthy, up-to-date information should be available to anyone who needs it, whether to understand a medical condition, find a job, complete a school assignment or start a business.
    • That all children and adults deserve equal access to information and the opportunity to educate themselves, regardless of their economic status, race, gender or cultural views.
    • That Pennsylvanians are worth the $5.50 return on investment they receive for every $1.00 invested in public library service in our state.

    If you want to express your support for these values and public library service in our community, please send a note to the Dauphin County Commissioners, thanking them for their outstanding record of support for library service and asking them to continue it. You can reach them at the address that follows.

    Dauphin County Commissioners
    P.O. Box 1295
    Harrisburg, PA 17108

    And, of course, if you’d like to help with a donation, it is most appreciated and you can do so here.  

    Thank you for your commitment to keeping your library “Open for Discovery.”


    Richard Bowra
    Executive Director

    What Can You Do?

    Share your story of how the library has helped you and your family during these economic tough times by filling out a comment card from your library or completing this online form. Share your library story with your legislators. Click here for legislator contact information.

    Keep Libraries Open Now!

    You can also help your library serve you and your community by making a donation. Click here to make a gift that will help keep your library’s doors open for everyone.



    Thanks for the support you show to your local library no matter what form it takes.


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