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Donations give library 35-hour week

The Elma Public Library's efforts to stay open 35 hours a week next year got a boost Thursday when Councilman-elect David Polak presented the library a check for $1,170, which he collected from several contributors.

The library is slated to see its operating budget from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library slashed by 30 percent next year, down to $160,000, according to Karen Korpanty, director of the Elma library.

Without any additional funding, that would mean scaling back from being open 47 hours a week, as it is now, to 28 hours. The branch at Bowen and Rice roads in June already trimmed its four-person staff to three, after a clerical position was left vacant, Korpanty said.

The staff and supporters of the library are hoping to raise enough money to supplement their county funding so the library can be open 35 hours a week in 2006.

That will mean eliminating Thursday hours and being open one hour less on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays -- but it will keep the branch eligible for state aid. The state requires that libraries serving towns the size of Elma be open at least 35 hours a week to qualify for aid.

The Elma library has already collected more than $7,000 in donations since the end of October and received a $3,500 grant from Assemblywoman Sandra Lee Wirth. Korpanty said the library has collected enough money to guarantee that the branch will be open 35 hours a week for the first three months of the year.

"We're very grateful to people like Dave Polak," she said. "He is really helping us out this way. We have had many, many people in the town helping us out, and many businesses as well."

Polak, a local attorney, held a fund-raiser Dec. 18 in The Lodge, an Elma restaurant. Tickets were $10, but at least two people wrote checks for $100 or more, he said. Polak and his wife also donated $250.

He presented Korpanty with the $1,170 check Thursday in memory of his father-in-law, Donald W. Kucera, who died last Jan. 23, a few hours after his car skidded out of control on Rice Road in Elma and crashed into a telephone pole.

The library will continue accepting donations, which are tax-deductible, to be used both for staffing and to buy materials. Those donating $250 or more will have their names engraved on a plaque in the library, honored for sponsoring a shelf of books.

e-mail: mpasciak@buffnews.com

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