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Sponsor funds Sunday hours at library

The Orchard Park Library will retain Sunday hours the old-fashioned way: through philanthropy.

The library's first Sunday sponsor, which donated about $3,900 to keep the library open from 1 to 5 p.m. for the rest of this year, was described as a private Orchard Park foundation that wishes to remain anonymous.

Now the library is seeking sponsors to provide about $300 a week to maintain Sunday hours next year.

"We thank [the foundation] from the bottom of our hearts," said Mark Stevens, library board president. "The county cutbacks put us in a tremendous bind. . . . We had to get creative."

Orchard Park is the only library in the Southtowns to open on Sundays. When the Erie County library system started feeling the county's financial crunch at the beginning of the year, it reduced hours, with only the Central Library in downtown Buffalo, the Audubon Library in Amherst and Orchard Park open on Sundays.

Ann Laubacker, library director, said the library records some of its heaviest use on Sundays, when its labor contract calls for paying employees at a rate of time-and-a-half.

"Families come in and use that as a family outing, and then there are the homework people with things due on Monday," she said.

While the library may be able to maintain hours, she said, things are changing.

The library has had to lay off a librarian and a clerk.

While the Friends of the Orchard Park Library always has held fund-raisers, the money had been used for capital improvements or to buy more books.

Now the library is raising money for operating costs: salaries, utilities and maintenance.

"Never did we think we'd be doing these things to keep our doors open," Laubacker said. "What will suffer is program planning, links with the community, working on grants, . . . things that have made this library pretty special in the Southtowns."

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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