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Ten years of fundraising brings ‘vital growth’ to library

By Staff | Apr 21, 2016

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Donna Heiney became the first paid head librarian for the Hughesville Area Public Library in 1984. She greeted many supporters during their recent open house celebrating ten years of community service since the new building was erected in 2006.

HUGHESVILLE – Earlier this month, the Hughesville Area Public Library opened its doors on a Sunday afternoon to celebrate ten years of community services at its current location, 146 S. Fifth Street.

To this day the library consists of a group of volunteers who dedicate their time to maintain its funding, staff and resources. The first was a woman named Alice Wheelock who started the library in her home in 1940 at the corner of Broadway and Main Streets. Mrs. Stephen A. Reed was the first librarian followed by Diantha Brown according to a timeline that was presented. Two years later the Hughesville Borough approved use of a room in their building for one year on Water Street “sharing space with the jail and dog pound,” according to Suzanne Murray who is part of the Board of Trustees. After that brief stay, there was an official opening with tea on February 28, 1942 at West Water Street.

There were no paid employees on record for many decades and all head librarians devoted their time. For many years librarian head, Gertrude Madison worked with volunteers Marian Schneider, Grace O’Dell, Doris Reed and Mrs. Ralph Derr.

It wasn’t until 1976 when the Hughesville Library moved to Main and Water Streets in the downtown area to a building that was purchased with federal funds by the Borough. By that time a Board of Trustees was appointed from members of the community who started raising funds to build a new library. Gertrude Madison was still head librarian working with no pay and the “Friends of the Library” was also established by the Board. Together they formed a building fund and the first donation came from Ada Green who contributed $100.

It was the bicentennial year and a vision for growth took the organization to new heights. The Board of Trustees signed a 99 year lease with the Borough for the building downtown on February 11, 1976. Renovations were donated with the time put in by Rufus Fetter, a local architect and advisor. Seven months later $50,000 was raised and the East Lycoming Quilting Society became a significant supporter as they were also celebrating the Bicentennial.

Over the next two years the library’s services expanded including the use of their community room for the East Lycoming Historical Society. The name was also changed to the “Hughesville Area Public Library.” After Gertrude Madison passed away, Nellie Myers became head librarian followed by Donna Heiney in 1982 who also volunteered. It wasn’t until 1984 when Heiney became the first paid head librarian. During her employment a fire occurred in 1988 which caused some damage to the front entrance according to Heiney who was at the open house showing a slide show of the library’s history.

A fifty year celebration was given in March of 1992 with an open house. Seven years later it was determined that a new building was needed and the Board of Trustees formed a building committee in 2000 to oversee the planning and construction that took place on S. Fifth Street on a vacant lot.

Board President, Suzanne Murray led the capital campaign to raise $250,000. “By the end of 2006, we had raised the grand total of $200,000, one year and one month after we launched our campaign,” announced Murray.

Donations came from more than 440 households, almost 70 businesses and more than 60 clubs and service organizations, plus 6 municipalities. “We received donations from contributors located in over 100 different zip codes.”

By March 1, 2005 during one of the worst snowstorms of the season, they raised enough money to break ground for the new building. The new site consisting of 8,000 square feet formally opened on June 1, 2006 at an estimated cost of 1.3 million dollars.

All donors are recognized in the front foyer with a plaque and the open house this month in 2016 showed an appreciation to all who use the library. Non-profits can use the community room, there are programs for pre-schoolers, seniors, summer reading for school aged children, and a children’s room. The Friends of the Library continue to contribute with donations and book sales, and in 2015 an additional $13,000 was raised, although more funding is becoming a challenge according to Bill Sherwood, one of the Board of Trustees.

Current board members are Donna Heiney, President; Deb Kuhar, Vice-President; Suzanne Murray, Secretary; and Charles Lockard, Treasurer. Other board members are Bill Sherwood, Becky Fought, Christie Foresman, Jim Foresman and Cindy Bower.

Memorial and honorary gifts are always welcome by contacting the library at 570-584-3762 or email to hapl@jvbrown.edu.