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Published: Tuesday, 1/12/2010

Delta library's tree a fund-raising device


DELTA — With budget cuts forcing them to slash their purchases of books and other new materials, Delta Public Library officials hope leaving their Christmas tree up will induce some extra charity from library patrons.

Decorations on the tree, now called a “Giving Tree,” will have a different motif, with seven different themes planned for now through July, library director Patricia Grover said.

The January theme is a general one, with snowflakes and snowmen imploring library visitors to “Be cool — support your library,” but later months will suggest donations of specific media, such as romance novels, audiobooks, magazine subscriptions, music discs, and DVDs.

The concept, Ms. Grover said, is for patrons to take one of the decorations from the tree and then make a donation equal to the amount suggested. Typical donations range from $15 for a children's book or $25 for a standard book to $100 or more for an audio book, the library director said.

While the library has a 1-mill local operating levy that generates a bit more than $100,000 in annual revenue, that provides only for basic operating costs.

“Just keeping the lights on costs us more than $18,000 a year,” Ms. Grover said.

So with state library support expected to fall by about $60,000 this year, on top of cuts already made last year, the Delta library is cutting its books and materials budget by nearly half for 2010, she said.

“That means patrons will see half as many new books, audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs on the shelves this coming year” unless donors pitch in, the library director said in the January newsletter.

While the “Giving Tree” decorations have amounts suggested on them, Ms. Grover said, “anything helps” because the budget is so tight.

“Now, when people come in to pay [overdue-materials] fines, we say, ‘Thank you for your delinquency,'” she quipped.

Officials hope that the campaign will induce patrons who haven't donated to the library before to recognize how much value they get from access to books, music, and other media that they don't have to buy themselves.

And even for those who can't afford to donate, Ms. Grover said, “It also maybe raises awareness to our patrons of what these things cost.”

While library hours also have been reduced slightly to save money, she said, new acquisitions have been by far the deepest cut, because shorter library hours reduce access to the entire existing collection.

Delta's library isn't the only one seeking donated funds to replace money it has lost from the state. Rhonda Sewell, a spokesman for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system, said her agency is conducting several campaigns, including “Bucks for Books,” which has a goal similar to Delta's effort, and a fund-raiser using specially labeled wine sold at The Andersons stores.

The Delta Public Library Giving Tree's February decorations will have a Valentine's Day motif: “Love is reading a good romance, inspirational, or large-print book.” March will target audiobook donations, April will highlight magazine subscriptions, and May will focus on music CDs.

Donors will be asked to help with the library's summer reading program in June, and with DVDs for “Hot Night at the Movies” in July.

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