Bequest boosts county library’s book budget

Wood County District Public Library shelves.

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

Library Director Michael Penrod didn’t know Elfreda Rusher except as a patron with a broad taste in books.

Future library patrons will be able to enjoy their own literary tastes thanks to a bequest from the Rusher estate.

The retired Bowling Green State University business education professor left $153,000 to the library with the expressed wish that it be used for books. Rusher died at 101 in April. She taught business education at BGSU from 1950 until her retirement in 1976.

Penrod told the library trustees Monday that because of the conditions of the bequest the money has to go into the library’s general fund and not to the Library Foundation.

Penrod and Fiscal officer Linda Joseph will make sure that the money will be spent on books in the coming years.

“When someone says thank you in this way” by remembering the library “considering all the entities in the community that need support, it’s very humbling,” Penrod said.

Such planned giving makes a big difference, Penrod said.

That’s why the library’s new strategic plan, which runs through 2021 calls for the library to work with the foundation “to implement a planned-giving program and increase the Foundation’s ability to support library efforts monetarily.”

The library’s trustees approved the strategic plan unanimously Monday.

The plan represents the bare bones of what the library intends, Penrod said. Now it will be up to the library’s management team will flesh out how to put those ideas into action.

Brian Paskvan, the president of the board, noted the areas that are outside what’s considered the traditional functions of the library.

With the new access to Lynda.com the library is entering in a major way the area of job training and development.

Another new area is the “library of things,” where what’s loaned out extends beyond the usual items.

The library also loans ukuleles, puzzles, and telescopes that we provided by the Toledo Astronomical Association.

Assistant Director Michele Raine said that the society told her if the telescopes are damaged, they will fix them.

Penrod said there are limits to what can be offered. He said he’s in touch with the library’s liability insurance carrier, so don’t expect to be able to borrow a chainsaw.

The library, he said, does not want to compete with the hardware store or rental businesses.

The plan also addresses the physical needs of the main library in Bowling Green.

Penrod noted that in the previous strategic plan, one goal as to increase meeting space at the Walbridge Library. Five years later, an expansion project has doubled the branch library’s size.

Nothing like that is envisioned in Bowling Green, he said. Rather the goal is to use the existing space as efficiently as possible.

The plan also calls for keeping the facilities “looking and feeling fresh, inviting, and safe” by adhering to an established maintenance schedule and investing in maintaining the building and providing new furnishings, fixtures, and equipment. 

The building was expanded and renovated 15 years ago.

Paskvan said it will fall to the finance committee to look at ways of funding this.

The strategic plan will take the library through 2021. The library’s levy will be on the ballot in November 2020.

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