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Inside Practically Paradise

Facts from Nazareth Library Director regarding Dominic Phillips & the Colbert video

In response to my post on the Colbert video clip with Dominic Phillips and his family, the director of the Nazareth Library wanted to share some facts. Funding in Pennsylvania (and in many other states in this country) is very confusing for public libraries. Here are


The Library Board and staff are well aware that some residents of municipalities who do not reside in our service area desire library service.

Those who serve on the Library Board and staff do so because of a strong belief that communities should provide library service to their constituents. Because the Library Board is committed to fair and equitable local funding of our Library, the Library issues membership cards only to residents in those municipalities that support our library services as part of responsible and responsive municipal government. Some of our surrounding communities do not feel that its citizens have expressed enough interest in having library services as part of their municipal services.

Libraries in Pennsylvania are supported mainly through local funding municipalities. (75% of our finding is local funding.)  The following municipalities support our Library as a part of responsible and responsive municipal government: Nazareth Borough, Bushkill, Lower Nazareth and Upper Nazareth Townships. 

Our Library does not sell individual cards because it believes that the local support we receive should not be jeopardized by the sale of individual cards[1]. Area libraries that we are aware of which do sell individual cards include: Easton Area Public Library and its Palmer Branch, Mary Meuser Library and Bangor Public Library.
Healthy local support is at the heart of our funding and any state subsidy we receive is directly tied to the amount we receive from our local funding municipalities.

Our Library receives no funding from the Nazareth Area School District. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Office of Commonwealth Libraries assigns public libraries to District Centers. Library District Centers do not correspond in make up to School Districts. Our Library is assigned to the Bethlehem Area District Library Center. Tatamy and Stockertown are assigned to the Easton Area Library District Center.

Our Library receives no funding from the District Center.
The Bethlehem District Center does not sell individual cards.
Our Library receives no funding from the County.

Our Library participates in the Access PA statewide direct borrowing program. The program is a program of reciprocity. To be eligible to participate, an individual’s municipality must establish and/or maintain a local library. As a result ACCESSPA stickers may not be attached to cards purchased at area libraries. Purchased cards are valid only at the library issuing the card.

We have always acknowledged that residents of a town without library services are the catalysts to change that situation. Anyone wanting to use our services including: internet access, story hours, subscription database searching and programming are welcome to do so. However when they wish to check out an item from the collection then we must require that they have a valid library card. We have also advised the residents of surrounding communities that should they wish their town to provide library services to its citizens by supporting our Library, they would first have to do the following:

· Agree to contribute the same per capita amount as our current funding municipalities.
· Contact the Easton Area Library District Librarian Jennifer Stocker regarding a change in their municipality’s District Library assignment.

The citizens of the municipalities we serve enjoy library services because their government leaders believe libraries are a vital service to their constituents.

We strongly urge residents of a town that does not currently support library services to contact their local officials and let them know you are interested and committed to having them support library service as part of responsive and responsible municipal government. As a citizen you have the power of the vote and it is the answer to the change you seek in this situation. 

If you need assistance with information about our services that you feel would be helpful to you when speaking to your local officials we would be glad to provide it.

Lynn Snodgrass-Pilla, Director
Memorial Library of Nazareth & Vicinity, Nazareth PA

[1] The Board has the jurisdiction to set policy for non-residents. The Memorial Library of Nazareth operates under the Pennsylvania Library Code. 


  1. Diane Rodriguez says:

    I live in Pleasanton, CA. We have a City Library. Municipal libraries in California are funded primarily from allocations from the General Fund of the city in which they are located, competing with other local service priorities such as police services, roads, and parks for funding. We also get donations through “Friends of the Library” which is very active in Pleasanton. Pleasanton City Library allows anyone living in California or who is attending school in California to get a library card. Every city library in the San Francisco Bay Area operates the same way. In fact, I have 7 library cards from 7 cities and I also can borrow from all the State University libraries through the LINKS program. I did not have to pay for any of these cards. I find it absurd that any library would limit itself to only those who pay taxes in that particular municipality. Does the City of Nazareth also prohibit citizens from other towns from driving on its city streets? Seems un-American to me. Diane Catalano Rodriguez, Pleasanton CA

  2. QuestionMark says:

    Your attitude does help to explain why California has such a big state tax problem. No one is willing to step up and pay for services received. I think that the Nazareth library is correct in its position.

  3. Be sure to read another position from my friend Shirley. The post is called Who Can Use a Library…

  4. Diane Rodriguez says:

    Dear QuestionMark,
    Our property taxes fund the General Fund. And our tax problem is due primarily to Prop 13 which in the late 70’s essentially froze property taxes. However, “Friends of Library” generates a great deal of revenue for our libraries. We are a town of 70,000. One small town next to us has about 5,000 residents. They use our schools, our city parks, our city roads, and our city library. And we welcome them.

  5. David Lubar says:

    I have to smile a bit when I see Dian Rodriguez refer to “the city of Nazareth.” For the record, Nazareth has a population of about 6,000, and a downtown that stretches for about a block and a half. Funding is a real problem for the library. Some of the member communities pay willingly. Others put up a fuss every year. The library itself is small, but wonderful. The librarians are great.

  6. David, Thanks for the update on the library. I grew up in a small town in Iowa with a population of about 250 people. It was still called a city. Having great librarians makes any library experience better.

  7. In Texas, we share. Anyone in Texas can go to their nearest library and get a TexShare card which allows them to check out materials (sometimes with limitations) from any other library in Texas. People outside my library’s boundaries get materials from us, and our patrons can get materials from places where they travel. Everyone in Texas has library service that way. I am sure other states have similar programs.