The Library Consolidation Committee presented its report on library consolidation at the Lower Saucon Township Council meeting on Oct. 2, 2013. The report is posted on the Lower Saucon Township (LST) website and we encourage everyone to read it.
It was apparent at the meeting that there are some misconceptions about library consolidation and we want to address some of these issues. One misconception is that if LST votes to consolidate with the Hellertown Area Library (HAL), then LST residents will be unable to check out materials from the Bethlehem Area Public Library. This is not true. Under the Access PA program, once a resident holds a card from her home library, that resident may apply for a card at any library in Pennsylvania. Access PA entitles state residents to check out materials but not participate in programs at non-home libraries. If LST council votes to consolidate, HAL will become the home library and residents of LST may apply for a card at HAL and then use that card to apply for cards at any other library in the state, including Bethlehem Area Public Library. LST residents who already possess a HAL card will simply need to stop in the library for an access sticker. LST residents who do not have a HAL card will need to apply for a card at the library.
There was also a concern about whether the Hellertown Area Library can handle LST patrons. Currently, 3,495 LST residents hold a Bethlehem Area Public Library card. Of these 3,495 residents, 2,451 also hold a HAL card. Therefore, the Hellertown Area Library is already serving more than two-thirds of the card-holding residents of Lower Saucon. Additionally, HAL has not restricted LST residents’ access to library programming, such as story times, and LST residents typically account for 50 percent of program participants. To accommodate the additional patrons, HAL will reconfigure the interior to include an enlarged children’s area and additional stack space, add staff and increase the number of computers and databases. HAL plans to offer databases that complement and support those of the Saucon Valley School District.
A third point discussed at the meeting was the potential loss of the Bookmobile. If LST Council decides to vote for consolidation with HAL, then LST residents will no longer have access to the bookmobile. In 2011, LST residents checked out 2,454 books from the Bookmobile—for comparison, in 2012, LST cardholders checked out 30,045 materials from HAL. HAL does provide book delivery service to Saucon Valley Manor and is open to a potential expansion of this program.
If you have any additional concerns or questions about the potential consolidation, please feel free to visit the Hellertown Area Library. The Board of Trustees meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month and our meetings are open to the public.
Hellertown Area Library Board of Trustees