Fulton County

Few towns respond to Johnstown library’s appeal

Johnstown Public Library officials have received few responses from municipalities in Fulton County

Johnstown Public Library officials have received few responses from municipalities in Fulton County to an annual appeal for contributions toward the nonprofit’s operating expenses.

Library Director Erica Wing said letters were sent or personal presentations were made to eight towns in the county whose residents use the library’s services. To date, only the towns of Caroga and Johnstown offered contributions.

For the 2012 fiscal year, Caroga gave the library $2,500 and Johnstown $14,000. The city of Johnstown remains the library’s major financial sponsor, contributing $258,000, down slightly from $275,000 in 2011.

The library sought $94,000 from the towns for 2012, an amount, if collected, would be equivalent to approximately 25 percent of the facility’s annual budget of $366,545.

“Every year, we have been going to meetings or sending letters. This would be the 23rd year they would give us money, if they choose to,” Wing said. “Usually, we do get responses every year, but they have been negative.”

The library supports operations through donations and memorial gifts, and it holds fundraisers. It also uses interest from its $2.6 million endowment, Wing said.

The library is seeking contributions from the towns not out of a financial crisis but to show that its mission extends beyond the city of Johnstown’s borders. “The basic reason is we are a municipal library chartered in the city of Johnstown, but we also serve people from outside of the city. We are not allowed to ask for money from patrons outside of the area. We are providing these services for free,” Wing said.

Should the towns provide the money, Wing said, the library would expand services, reaching all residents in the county. “At this point, we try to keep our budget as conservative as we can. We are always looking for additional funding because costs are always going up,” she said.

The library has asked towns to contribute based on a percentage of residential use of total circulation. For 2011, total circulation was 82,000 items. Under this formula, each town’s suggested contribution for 2012 would be:

u Johnstown: $36,000, based on 7,965 items checked out, a number representing 10 percent of total circulation.

u Caroga: $9,000, or 3 percent.

u Broadalbin: $6,500, or 2 percent.

u Ephratah: $29,000, or 8 percent.

u Mayfield: $6,600, or 2 percent.

u Perth: $3,000, or 1 percent.

u Stratford: $293, or 0.08 percent.

u Oppenheim: $2,800, or 0.8 percent.

Supervisors from these towns were not available for comment Monday.

Residents from the city of Johnstown make up 55 percent of total circulation. Under the formula, the city’s annual contribution would be slightly more than $200,000.

Wing said the library does not have plans to impose a tax for operations, similar to what occurred through referendum with the Gloversville library in 2005.

Before 2005, the library was a city responsibility and was called the Gloversville Free Library. Library officials decided to split from the city and expand its service area after Gloversville, which once owned the century-old building, cut funding from a high of $155,000 annually to $5,000 a year.

In December, the library took ownership of the building from the city. The city had until then maintained and repaired the structure. The Gloversville library has a $3.5 million endowment.

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