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Chester County Press

Oxford Library officials outline the need for more funding

03/21/2024 11:59AM ● By Betsy Brewer Brantner

According to Carey Bresler, the director of the Oxford Library, funding from the state and the county hasn’t changed since 2020. That has forced the library to ask for additional funding from the local municipalities.

At a recent meeting of Oxford Borough Council, Bresler and Jay Kennedy, treasurer of the Oxford Library Board, addressed how the library is funded and the value it brings to the community.

For 240 years, the Oxford Library has provided resources to enrich the lives of residents of Oxford Borough and the surrounding townships, while also being a valuable community partner.

The Oxford Library is the oldest library in Chester County and the third oldest in Pennsylvania. The Oxford Library was established on Aug. 3, 1784 by 28 members and an equal number of books, to “promise Knowledge and Literature in the Township of Oxford…,” according to the articles of incorporation of the Oxford Library Company. 

Originally, the library was kept in the home of the designated librarian and subscriptions were limited. In 1868, subscription was made available to the public and, for the purchase of a share of stock and an annual fee of one dollar, you could borrow books. In 1938, when it was the beneficiary of the Community Chest, it was made a free library for all.

Kennedy explained where funding for the library comes from.

“We are a member of the Chester County Library Association, and serve a population of 27,160. We get our funding from the state, county and municipalities,” Kennedy explained. “The majority of our money is spent on payroll, materials and services.”

Kennedy said that the library has been digging into its reserves to pay for its operations.

The Oxford Library receives $2.17 per capita from Oxford Borough. The average funding in Chester County for libraries is $4.46 per capita.

In Pennsylvania, there are 630 library outlets, serving 12 million people. Those libraries provide a return on investment of $5.50 in benefits for every $1 of tax support.

Obviously, fundraising and donations are important to the Oxford Library, especially now since they are digging into their reserves. The library will continue to provide ongoing budget updates to the borough and the surrounding municipalities.

Ongoing support to the library is vital to their success and to help them continue their mission to serve the Oxford area. 

Kennedy said, “We have set a goal of $5.00 per capita, so we have a way to go. We are hopeful that we don’t have to keep dipping into our reserves.”

Oxford Borough Council member Amanda Birdwell said, “We have a great staff at the library. I want to make sure we pay enough so we don’t lose that staff.”

At the same council meeting, William Fasick,  who is currently earning his Eagle Scout rank as a member of Troop 13, came before council to discuss the progress of his plans for a 9/11 Memorial for the Oxford Memorial Park.

“The company that we get the memorial from required some minor changes,” he said.

It is hoped that the memorial will be delivered in April. The borough received drawings of the plan and Fasick did review those drawings with John Schaible, the public works supervisor for Oxford.

“One of those changes is to use stamped concrete on the base,” Fasick said. “We will also add rebar and drainage, and make it flush to the grading around the memorial. We will bring in dirt to fill, so it will be easy to mow the grass around it.”

The memorial will be arriving soon, and another meeting with Schaible is planned for April.

In other business, borough council approved Resolution # 1382-2024 adopting the Chester County Complete Streets Policy and the escrow release no. 4 in the amount of $10,760 for the Damico development at 703 Lincoln Street.

Borough Council also discussed the DVRPC EXPO “Buzz of Summer” final project summary. Oxford Borough Council Manager Pauline Garcia-Allen told council that DVRPC did a final analysis of the project in January.

“We partnered with the Oxford Arts Alliance and set the project up to be highlighted on a First Friday,” she said. “DVRPC provided a lot of pro-bono work with their traffic engineers. The project was done mostly for public safety for pedestrians. We identified Broad Street as a good place to demonstrate the actual design. It involved a mural and temporary physical improvements to tighten the turning radius for turns on to Broad Street. We also added crosswalks going into the parking lots. DVRPC did traffic monitoring before and after, along with community surveys. The project cost $4,000. Our survey results showed that drivers’ speeds fell by 20 percent. The completion of this project will enable us to seek grants to make a permanent improvement to provide safety for pedestrians.”

Funding road projects was also discussed for a future project on Hodgson and Eighth Streets and Mt. Vernon and Pine streets. Both projects will continue to be discussed.