GOULDSBORO — Dorcas Library has a lot to offer, from books to programming. Trouble is, it’s open only 24 hours a week.
“People want us to be open more hours and right now we count on volunteers,” said Faith Lane, library director. “But really, we need staff.”
The question is how to pay for it. Staff salaries and other operating expenses such as supplies, heat and utilities are covered through fundraising, donations and interest drawn on investment accounts. Although grants are available, they are intended for specific projects and cannot be used for operating expenses.
Lane has an unusual plan to address the library funding issue. She is planning to take an unpaid leave of absence from her job to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
Lane, who will turn 60 next year, said she remembers hikers crossing Route 2 near where she lived as a girl in Franklin County.
“I’ve always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail,” she said, adding the goal of the trip is to call national attention to the library and to help it reach an ambitious fundraising goal incrementally over a period of time.
“One of the most difficult tasks for any library director is creating visible and effective ways to raise significant funds to sustain their organizations into the future,” reads a press release from the library. “Sometimes, we need to take a dramatic leap of faith into the unknown, and simply begin to ask people for help.”
The library’s goal is to raise $1.25 million. Once invested, that sum could generate an estimated $50,000 a year in interest to pay for operating expenses.
In April, Lane began training to improve hiking distance, flexibility, strength and endurance. In January, she will begin an unpaid leave of absence during which she will train more intensely for the 2,200-mile journey. She anticipates beginning the hike with her partner, Craig Pursell, in June 2020, at Katahdin and heading south.
While they are hiking, Lane and Pursell will hand out cards with information on Dorcas’ investment fund campaign. Lane plans to chronicle the trip using a talk-to-text program. Updates will be posted on the library website and in social media as part of the campaign.
“If 2,200 individuals or teams of individuals donate just $500 each to the investment fund, the library will have gained $1.25 million,” says the press release. “How do we find these donors? The same way we conquer a long trail — one step at a time.”