LEWISTOWN - A weight has been lifted and it's time to celebrate - cautiously.
In the wake of a decision by the board of directors to close Allensville and Milroy branches of the Mifflin County Library, Executive Director Molly Kinney said the library is in a better financial state than it was at the beginning of 2013.
However, she said the need for financial support is still dire, and the organization is kicking off National Library Week with a direct mail campaign to raise support within the community.
"We are the original search engine," Kinney said about the services offered at the library.
The Mifflin County Library and its branches allow card holders to use library computers and iPads, download books to Nook or Kindle, check out books, read the latest issues of magazines and newspapers and more - all at no cost.
Library patrons may also make photocopies, send faxes and check out DVDs and movies for a small fee, Kinney said.
Susan Miriello, youth services librarian, said the children's library offers five weekly story times. Half-hour sessions are available for families with babies and toddlers under 3 years old. Children ages 3 to 5 can enjoy one-hour story times which include age-appropriate crafts, Miriello said.
"The sooner the better," she said about getting children interested in books.
At 6 p.m. April 24, the Lewistown branch of the library will host children's author Susan Bloom who will read her book, "A Bus for Us," to children. Miriello said the event is sponsored by the United Way. Every child who attends will receive a copy of the book and participate in a craft.
Adult book clubs also are offered on the second Wednesday and third Tuesday of each month. The Second Wednesday Book Club meets at 1 p.m. in the community room of the Lewistown branch. According to a flyer for the club, they will discuss "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn on May 8. The Third Thursday group will meet at 6:30 p.m. May 21 in the community room of the Kish branch library to discuss "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan.
For on-the-go readers, Kinney said the library features an extensive collection of Playaway recorded books. She said the lightweight, battery-operated devices are a new way to listen to books on tape. The device itself is no larger than a credit card and is easy to slip into a pocket during housework or exercise, Kinney said.
She explained further that libraries provide the first socialization experience for many young children and access to information and resources for adults.
"Libraries have the potential to change a person's life at zero cost," she said.
National Library Week is a chance to recognize the value of librarians and volunteers.
Beginning this week, a direct mail campaign will encourage residents of Mifflin County to make tax-deductible contributions to the library. Kinney said every contribution will help. Even $5 will buy a paperback book, Miriello added.
The library's fundraising campaign that continues through Sept. 1 also includes the following programs:
The 300 Club - At least 300 individuals are asked to donate $100.
The Leather Book Club - 200 individuals are asked to donate $200.
Each One, Reach One - Individuals are asked to donate $5 to $25 and ask four friends to match the gift.
The Reading Wall - Individuals, service organizations and businesses may make a contribution of $500 or more. Contributions will be recognized with the addition of a wooden book or shelf to the Reading Wall display at the library.
Friends of the Mifflin County Library, a group formed to promote and advocate for the library, is also hosting three fundraisers this spring. The Lewistown Community Band will hold a free concert at 7 p.m. April 16 in the Mifflin County Middle School auditorium. Donations made at the event will benefit the library. The first have also organized a fundraising night April 26 at Hoss's Steak and Sea House. Vouchers can be obtained at the library, and Hoss's will donate up to 25% of each check to the library.
From April 17 to 21, the friends will hold a book sale at the library. The first day of the sale is open to Friends of the Mifflin County Library members only. Kinney said memberships may be purchased at the door.
"Now is the time," Kinney said about offering a donation to the library. "Please don't put it off and forget about it. It's not going away."
Despite its struggle to avoid financial crises after facing a decrease of more than $87,000 in state funding in 2010, Kinney said the library is still a valuable resource to the community.
She laughed as she recalled a saying that goes, "You can get 25,000 answers from Google, but you can get the right answer from a librarian."
For more information about the Mifflin County Library, call the library at 242-2391 or visit www.mifflincountylibrary.org.