Anonymous donations help Ogdensburg Public Library in wake of budget cuts and increased costs
Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 6:26 am

 By JIMMY LAWTON

OGDENSBURG -- Two anonymous donations of $5,000 will help Ogdensburg Public Library renew its newspaper and magazine subscription despite recent funding reductions.

With budget cuts at state, local and county levels, Ogdensburg Public Library has struggled to keep up with growing pension and health care costs.

Director Wayne Miller said Ogdensburg and all other libraries across the county were completely removed from the St. Lawrence County budget last year.

Miller said not only was the $11,502 in funding cut, but county legislators voted in a narrow majority to eliminate the line item completely.

Friends of the Library and other groups offered to donate money to the county in order to keep the line item in the budget, but the county refused. Miller said given the state of the economy it is likely libraries will remain off the county's funding radar permanently.

"In general in dealing with budgets adding a line is a much more difficult process politically then refunding a line," he said.

Miller said the city provides the bulk of the library's funding with a contribution of more than $530,000 annually, but last year the city reduced its contribution by $15,737.

Although funding decreased in 2012 Miller said state pension and health care costs increased by about $15,000. Combined with the funding reductions, the library was forced to cut back its expenditures and reduce the amount of materials it purchases and delay much needed renovations.

Miller said the library was fortunate to receive many end of the year donations. He said that the anonymous $10,000 contribution made a dent in the shortfall, but added that costs continue to rise.

Miller said many of its programs are now funded through the Ogdensburg Friends of the Library, a non-profit group that brings a variety of educational entertainment to the library for people of all ages.

"They fund our programs whether it’s a story teller, sled dog or an artist they have been supporting us to make these events possible," he said.

Miller said anyone can join the "Friends" for a donation as small as $10 per year. For those who can't contribute money, Miller said the group often needs volunteers to help with fundraising events.

Traditional donations can be made to the Library as well. Miller said these donations are also tax-deductible.

Recently, the library created a program that allows people to purchase new materials through the library based on their own preference.

Its "Adopt a Book" program allows patrons to purchase materials on the libraries behalf at wholesale prices.

The library keeps the item, but the donor gets to borrow it first and has the option of having his or her name placed on the inside.

Miller said the libraries, like schools are faced with a tough road ahead, but contributions from the public can make that path a little smoother.

To learn more about donating to the library visit http://www.ogdensburgpubliclibrary.org/