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Local Libraries Seek Continued Support From County

November 5th, 2019

Representatives of Potter County’s public libraries met with the Potter County Board of Commissioners last week to express their appreciation for the county’s financial support and to seek continued funding in the 2020 budget.  Leslie A. Wishard, administrator of the Potter-Tioga Library System, assured the commissioners that the annual contributions are not taken for granted. She pointed out that county governments are not legally required to support libraries. However, support from the two counties has enabled community libraries to expand their services in ways that affect thousands of lives, including proven programs that support childhood development and literacy. In Potter County, Wishard noted, the commissioners not only make an annual allotment to the two-county library system itself, they also provide a $2,500 restricted-use grant for each library in Potter County to support educational programs and/or children’s learning activities. She added that she is unaware of any other Pennsylvania county that operates a similar mini-grant program.

Wishard presented a statistical summary from the Potter-Tioga Library System for 2018: 19,900 registered users; 165,000 visitors; circulation of 170,000 items; 500 children’s programs with attendance of more than 6,500; young adult program participation of 765; and nearly 500 adult programs with attendance of 6,545. “Due to our rural location, we have become the social centers for many of our communities,” she said. “We collaborate with local businesses, civic organizations, medical facilities and many non-profit agencies to help us better serve our patrons.”

Teri McDowell, director of the Coudersport Public Library, pointed out that local libraries provide a broad range of services beyond the traditional book loans. Computers with free internet access, research archives, literacy support for children and adults, training activities and community functions are among other roles local libraries are playing. She also pointed out that public libraries are increasingly filling the gaps created by public school districts cutting back on their library resources.

Commissioner Doug Morley praised the dedication of library directors and staff. He pointed out that libraries are one of the few enduring institutions that hold together communities through the generations and they’re particularly important in rural America.

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