B y Jaime Thomas
The Pember received a check in the mail Tuesday morning. A big check.
A donor sent $100,000 to the library and museum to help pay the bills.
Marcia Klam, president of the Pember Board of Trustees, said the donation came after she and Pember Director Pat Wesner reached out to organizations and individuals who have supported them in the past.
The Copper Beech Foundation, Inc., who made the donation, has been supporting the museum for 13 years, historically giving $25,000 annually for operating expenses.
Operating expenses include such items as utility bills, collections insurance, accounting fees and payroll taxes, many of which were well overdue.
“It’s a foundation that looks to make a difference. They came and saw the Pember and fell in love with it,” Klam said of the donors. The extra $75,000 is intended to cover the museum’s shortfall.
The money came at a time when the library and museum is struggling to make ends meet.
“The perception of the community is we have tons of money, but we’re a month behind in paying bills. Everything we were just paying in drips and drabs. We had $15,000 in bills we couldn’t pay,” Klam said.
The museum is aiming to become a public school district library, a move that residents will vote on with next year’s school budget. Klam said officials knew that until next September, even if they were able to get grants they would still be $60,000 in the hole.
Currently the institution is scraping by on some support from the village and town of Granville as well as grant money. In order to deal with this lack of funds, Klam said the library and museum was set to announce its closure on Thursdays starting Aug. 1 and also to close the building for two weeks for a “vacation.” She said this action was intended to save on such expenditures as air conditioning and lighting.
Because the board voted to close Thursdays, the library will do so unless there is a new vote at next month’s meeting. Klam said the designation of the money toward operating expenses is especially important.
“It’s easy to get grants for things like large-text books for seniors, but it’s very hard to get money for operating expenses,” she said. The new funds will simply aid the Pember in staying afloat.
“We’re just paying bills. People need to know that we’re in dire straits,” Klam said. In the future, she said the board would still like to continue with the capital campaign and make improvements.
“The museum has a third of the collection in the attic, and we could have an elevator so people in wheelchairs could see the museum. We really do need more space,” she said. But that won’t be possible until the Pember is in a more financially stable condition.
Bo Young, a member of the library board, pointed out that the library will still have to write grants to cover expenses. He said the Pember was hit by the economy several years ago, as was the foundations that provide grants and donations.
“They get a cold, and we get pneumonia. This does not solve our problems—this simply postpones decides that need to be made down the road,” he said.
Wesner said grants, which are the institution’s main source of income, are always unknown and have become fewer and fewer in recent years.
Out of Tuesday’s donation, Klam said $15,000 is to be used for advertising for the designation of the Pember as a regional school library, upon the foundation’s suggestion. She pointed out that the donors, who have so far contributed $400,000 to the Pember, won’t keep supporting the institution forever.
“Times are tough, especially in this town. If the community decides we’re not worth it, we’ll be closing,” Klam said.