Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Mail those letters (but do it quietly)
Mail center opens at Ephrata library; the benefits are many Mail those letters (but do it quietly) BY LARRY ALEXANDER, Staff Writer
Users of the Ephrata Public Library have long been able to check out books and movies, search online for jobs, learn computer skills, purchase used books, apply for passports and much more.
Now they are able to mail letters and packages and buy postage stamps.
The library will introduce its new Village Post Office to the public at 10 this morning.
"This is called a Village Post Office, and it is the first of its kind in central Pennsylvania," library director Penny Talbert said.
She said customers can purchase stamps and mail letters and packages, provided those packages are pre-weighed and stamped.
"We can take packages, but we won't be doing any weighing," said Cheryl Lorenz, who works in the post office. "Large packages that need weighed and stamped still have to be taken to a regular post office."
The post office is just inside the State Street entrance to the library, in the former staff room. The passport office also was recently moved there, and later this year a notary service will be added, Talbert said.
"We'll be a one-stop shop," Talbert said. "We have good parking. We are getting more parking. We see ourselves as a community center, and this is just another service we can offer."
The idea of having a post office at the library came from Lorenz when she learned about plans to close Galen's of Ephrata. Operating since 1949, the independent retailer of furniture and appliances also housed a post office substation.
Working through the U.S. Postal Service in Harrisburg and the Village Post Office Program Office in Denver, Colo., the library secured a contract to provide services to the public.
"The post office is so excited about this location to see how people react to the idea of the Village Post Office, because it's a whole new program," Talbert said.
Talbert said the contract provides an annual fee, which offsets library expenses for the building, utilities and employees.
"This will save the post office a lot of money, and it will help us," Talbert said. "To me, it seems like a no-brainer."
Talbert said libraries across the state are struggling with an increasing need for services and shrinking financial support.
"You can't run a business like that, so how are you going to run a library like that?" Talbert said. "So we have to come up with these alternative ways of making money in order to stay open."
Ephrata Borough, which owns the library building, is "very supportive" of the new post office, Talbert said.
The hours of the new post office and passport office will be Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"It's nice because if you need stamps after the post office closes, you can still get them here," Talbert said. "It's convenient."
Information on the new post office is available on the library's website, ephratapubliclibrary.org.