The Hubbard Free Library is about 34 percent of the way to reaching its annual fundraising goal after 19 days, board of trustees member Ken Young said Tuesday.

Young said the board decided on a definitive period of 70 days, from Oct. 22 until Dec. 31, to raise $25,000 that would be used to help with next year’s operating costs. As of Tuesday afternoon, the organization has received $8,515 in donations.

“We’re doing well, and there’s still 50 more days,” Young said. “We’ll definitely do better than last year.”

The nonprofit organization that runs the library, which was built in 1880 and is the oldest library building in Maine that still serves its original purpose, completed a seven-year capital campaign in 2014 and began thinking of ways to make the library’s day-to-day operations more efficient and sustainable.

After it raised around $450,000 for the first phase of the campaign, which included a new slate roof, two new boilers and repairs to the building’s concrete exterior, contributions and donations to the nonprofit’s general fund have decreased steadily.

It costs about $130,000 per year to run the library, including pay for its five part-time staffers. The city of Hallowell contributes $27,000 per year, and the remaining money comes from the annual fund and the library’s investment fund.

City Manager Nate Rudy said the city has provided funding for the library because it recognizes its value as a vibrant community center and a contributing curator for some of Hallowell’s most important historic documents and artifacts.

Because of the decline in contributions in recent years, the organization has resorted to pulling money from the endowment to help pay for the daily operation of the facility. Young said that practice is not sustainable and if something doesn’t change, the library won’t be able to continue operating as it has in the past.

Young said most people didn’t know about the financial problems the library was having, and those who did know were surprised and concerned.

“I think (the amount raised) is a real indication of how concerned people are and how much they want to help,” he said. “The response is really positive and encouraging.”

The library used to be open on more days throughout the week or for more hours. Last summer, it was closed on Mondays and was expected to re-open on Mondays once school started, but the closure has become a permanent cost-cutting measure. Young said the library cannot afford to be open on Mondays, and if nothing changes, the library’s operation isn’t sustainable after another three or four years.

According to financial records, the nonprofit organization had $1,043,078 in assets at the end of 2016, which was down $59,049 from the previous year. Since the end of 2014, the organization has lost $89,211 in assets.

Young said since an article was published in the Kennebec Journal detailing the financial problems, the organization sent out 1,500 postcards to every address in Hallowell, 150 letters to previous donors and about 500 emails to solicit donations.

“I think we’ll make even more progress, and we’re planning on going back to our email and Facebook contacts,” Young said. “Things are coming along, and the board is very enthusiastic.”

As part of the fund drive, the board actively is recruiting additional members to join the group’s board. Young said the board recently added a man with an advanced business degree with finance experience and a woman with a master’s degree in library sciences.

“They both expressed a strong and sincere interest, and I think we’re on the right track,” Young said.

Young said nonprofits can’t rely on the same set of donors because those people eventually get tired of being asked to donate. He said it’s important for the Hubbard organization to expand its group to bring in new people.

“The millennials are the No. 1 users of the library, but they aren’t the ones giving the largest amount of support,” he said. “People clearly, though, want the library to survive.”

Since the campaign was announced, Young said the trustees have received contributions that have varied from $3 and a jar full of silver coins to a $2,000 check. He said they’re gotten more online donations than in past years, and the response shows how much people in Hallowell care about the historic library.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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