Darby Free Library, Nation’s Oldest, Pleading For Funds To Avert Closure
By Brad Segall
DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — The oldest continuously operating free library in the country is faced with another cash crunch, which could cause the facility to close its doors for good before the end of the year.
The Darby Free Library has been around for 271 years, but officials say they may have to radically change their operations if they can’t find money for their everyday expenses and some capital improvements.
The debt has topped $15,000, and the 19th-century building on Main Street needs at least $7,000 worth of electrical work.
“For instance, we can’t run the air conditioner and our copier at the same time,” says Jay McCalla, the president of the library’s board of directors. “We have some safety violations. We haven’t had a full-time director in three, maybe five, years.”
McCalla says they’ve already cut everywhere they can, and there’s been a strong decline in donations and state funding. They are hoping some private donations will come in and they’re turning again to the borough for a cash infusion.
He notes that 1,500 people come through the library’s doors every month, adding that many to use the antiquated computer system to prepare résumés and search for jobs. He says the long-range plan is to upgrade it to 21st-century technology.