By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILMANTON — It's been a tumultuous year for the Gilmanton Year-Round Library, which was thrown into an existential crisis earlier this winter when voters rejected two warrant articles that would have each provided funding to help cover the library's operation. Unsure of how they would cover expenses, the board of directors announced a plan to close the library on April 2 until further notice. Then, it reported that there were enough donations made to the library to allow it to reopen sometime after the closing, and on Friday night the directors announced that the funding gap had grown so small that the nonprofit facility would only be closed for a week.
In the meantime, the board will continue with a second "Community Conversation," in which it invites members of the community to discuss the library's possible long-term strategies. The discussion will be held on Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m.
Chris Schlegel, president of the board of directors, confirmed on Monday that the library would reopen on Saturday, April 9. Following the voters' narrow rejection of a one-year funding measure, and a wide defeat of a warrant article that would have provided funding for two years, the library's directors were faced with a budget hole of $47,500.
Supporters of the library rallied, though, and within a few weeks it was clear that the library would be able to operate for most, if not all, of the coming 12 months. And, on Friday, when directors met, they saw just how close they were to that fundraising goal.
"We were within $1,113 of that amount. We decided we would just be closed for this one week," said Schlegel on Monday. In addition to the week-long hiatus, the library will also refrain from purchasing new media until May. Children's programs will also be on hold until May.
While Schlegel said the library's directors were "disappointed" that voters turned down their funding requests, she said they are "extremely grateful" for the support that they have seen since then.
"The donations have been numerous, lots of donations of all amounts, nearly all of them from Gilmanton residents," she said.
The donations will allow the library to continue operating through March of 2017, and any further donations will be applied to operating expenses thereafter. By then, library directors hope to have decided on a strategy for years to come. Among the options are staying with the nonprofit model and soliciting private donations to keep the library operating, or asking the town to take control of the library as a municipal asset.
"We really want the community input, we have several options now... There are other possibilities we want to explore, that's how we expect to spend the remainder of the year."
Schlegel said she wanted to extend "our sincere thanks to everybody who has supported us and gave generously over the past few weeks, and [we] look forward to serving the community well into the future."
Children's Librarian Pam Jansury reads "Waiting" during morning Story Time March 30 at the Gilmanton Year Round Library. Children's programs are expected to resume in May. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
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