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June 2012
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Pledges help save library

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

A Brookport, Ill., staple that was struggling to keep its doors open amid weather-related damage and decreased donations is on its way toward raising the necessary funds.

The library, which opened more than 20 years ago, has raised nearly two-thirds of the necessary money to sustain itself for the next two years, according to Judy Askew, former mayor and Brookport Betterment Committee chairman. She said thanks to publicity, social media campaigns and the slow renewal of the local area, 40 special sponsors from the region and throughout the country have pledged to give.

"This library has been my baby for the last 21 years and it's so special to everyone, especially for children in the area," she said.

The goal was to find 60 sustained donors who would commit to a small amount, such as $10, per month for two years. The group hopes after two years the local area will bounce back and the city government will take over the facility. Currently the number of renewed gifts will allow the complex to remain open for at least the next year and a half, according to Askew.

The library, which is 100 percent volunteer-based, has been surviving on an $18,000 gift for several years. The November tornadoes that ravaged the Brookport area did $5,000 in damage to the roof and windows, and of that a $1,000 deductible was paid out of pocket. In January, the group only had enough remaining funds to stay open until the summer, she said.

She said the board will meet this week to review contractor bids for work on the roof. Due to the tornado and winter weather several patches on the roof need sealing to prevent water damage inside the building. 

"The library has become a stabilizing force for the area," she said. "I'm really proud of how we have hung in there."

The group will host a fundraising performance by the Little Egypt Barbershop Chorus and Quartets at 7 p.m. on Saturday in the Brookport Elementary School gymnasium at 319 Ferry St. in Brookport. The doors will open at 6:15 p.m. and a $10 donations is recommended, Askew said.

The group, which is based in Carbondale, Ill. and has members throughout southern Illinois, will perform a show titled "Steamin Down the River," according to member John Bobell. He said the performance will last about one hour and have an intermission. Bobell described the music as classical, historical and fun.

The Brookport library is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 3-6 p.m. The group found two additional volunteers and plans to also open on Tuesday afternoons beginning May 1, Askew said.

To give time or money, call the library at 618-564-3630, drop off a donation at 7415 S. U.S. 45 during open hours or mail to PO Box 308, Brookport, IL 62910.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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