LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) — The Palmyra Public Library (PPL) recently raised $537,000 in what they called a ‘Capital Grassroots Campaign’ in order to pay off the library’s mortgage and focus instead on the programs and services they offer.

Five years ago, the PPL had to move locations when the Palmyra Borough Municipal building needed replacing. Back then, the building doubled as the public library, as well as the municipal building – after the construction of the new building, this dynamic changed.

Through this transition, the PPL lost its utility, maintenance and rent-free space, according to the library’s website. For the first time, the library was responsible for its own mortgage and building expenses, totaling $38,000 annually.

This $38,000 is the equivalent to the library’s annual deficit – putting the library’s continuation in jeopardy.

According to Chelsea Weibley, the executive director of the Palmyra Public Library & the Phoenix Youth center, because of the donations and pledges made by about 150 to 200 people, the library was able to pay off its mortgage in full back in August.

This lump sum payment saved the library an estimated $375,000 in interest payments.

It should also be noted that 100% of those that pledged a donation did in fact end up donating what they had previously pledged – there were no turnovers.

The Capital Campaign began back in 2018, working in conjunction with Shultz & Williams and community stakeholders to conduct a feasibility study to examine if the surrounding community would even be capable of raising the necessary funds for the library.

Once it was determined that their $500,000 fundraising goal was feasible, the Capital Campaign Committee, comprised of Chelsea Weibly, Deborah Buckfelder, Joann Wendtly, Don Kline, and Kendra Hoffman, began to lay the groundwork to bring the campaign to life.

The committee began creating donation forms and brochures to explain the goals of the campaign, as well as layout to the community why it’s necessary for the PPL.

According to Weibley, there was a lot of uncertainty regarding the campaign’s success once the 2020 pandemic occurred, but against all odds, the goal was still achieved and then some.

“That for me is so huge and uplifting,” said Weibley. “it’s incredible how the community was supporting us in spite of everything that happened [in 2020].”