BY TOM KNAPP, Staff Writer
Public libraries within the Library System of Lancaster County can't agree on a plan by the countywide system to start fundraising efforts of its own.
Now, system officials have decided, it's time to move forward with those who can reach a consensus.
"It's about trust," system board member Terry Kauffman said.
The cash-strapped library system, which serves all public libraries in the county, has in the past distributed state funds to its members while leaving local fundraising efforts in the hands of local library officials.
In recent years, however, the system board has toyed with the notion of raising funds on its own.
"There were a significant number (of local library officials) who didn't like it or who felt some discomfort at the idea," Kauffman, who chairs the system's development committee, said.
Although the notion of countywide fundraising efforts was incorporated into the system's strategic plan, some local library directors argued that would tap resources that otherwise go to the member libraries.
Karen Haley Field, board treasurer for Lancaster Public Library at 125 N. Duke St., said in October 2012 that the system is stepping into "a minefield" by seeking to expand its revenue sources.
"There is already confusion in the public's mind" over the breakdown between the system and individual libraries, Field said then. If both entities are soliciting funds in the name of library services, she said, the public will become even more confused -- and funding opportunities could be lost.
Field also noted that no funding formula currently exists in Lancaster County for allocating funds raised by the system.
But Kauffman said last week that it's time to move forward with the plan and "work with the libraries that want to cooperate" to find new contributors, as well as donors who are not being tapped to their full potential.
However, he said, "we don't want to take money from any member libraries, money that they already get."
With the board's approval, Kauffman said he will set up a meeting, probably in May, with member libraries "who choose to participate in a partnership. ... It's strictly voluntary."
Those at the meeting will discuss options for seeking funds within their communities, he said.
Although there is still opposition from some quarters, Kauffman said, several local libraries have already stated their support for the fundraising plan.
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