by: Alexandra Hoff
WHTM Harrisburg, Pa.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - It's about books, not bookkeeping - or at least it used to be.
"That's not part of what you learned about when you went to school to be a
librarian years ago," said Sue Erdman, Executive Director at the Joseph T.
Simpson Library in Mechanicsburg.
In many ways, Erdman has become a full-time fund raiser, the library itself
is responsible for 26 percent of their own budget.
"It was just like, well you wont get your second payment this year, and that
was it," said Joy Hamsher, director of the New Cumberland Public Library.
Hamsher's library was forced to cut their employees from six to three after
they were cut off from a state subsidy program given to boarder-libraries
serving a portion of out-of-county residents.
Because of the six-figure cut, they can no longer afford to stay open on
"About 50 percent comes from the county, 20 percent comes from the state, and
the rest we have to raise," she added.
But that 50 percent has been a strain on the county. So much so that a
strategic consulting firm has been brought in to help iron out a future.
"We have a library system board that has its own expert perspective and we
have the board of commissioners and we have our own perspective and opinions and
we need to bridge those differences," Cumberland County commissioner Gary
The county must be able to prove to the taxpayer that libraries have a solid
"Every public dollar we put into something we have to be able to spell out
exactly what the return to the community is," he said.
In order to stay up-to-date libraries must continuously invest in new
technology, and technology takes funding.
So what if the funding fix never comes?
"Well, I guess we'll have to continue to cut," Hamsher said.