A group of Korean War veterans presented a $1,000 donation to the Harford County Public Library Thursday in an effort to support library programs to commemorate this year's 60th anniversary of the end of the war.
Six members of Maryland Chapter 33 of the Korean War Veterans Association presented the check – made out to the HCPL Foundation – during a meeting of the HCPL Board of Trustees at the Bel Air library branch.
Library Director Mary Hastler told board members that "these kind gentlemen" had offered to work with HCPL staff to develop programs to commemorate the war on the Korean peninsula, which lasted from 1950 to 1953 and ended with an armistice.
The peninsula remains divided into two nations today, and tensions remain high between North Korea and South Korea, and the south's U.S. ally.
"They were gracious enough to donate $1,000 to do this," Hastler said of the veterans who visited Thursday.
The six included Sam Fiedler, Robert Banker, Charles Reed Jr., Earl House, Jack Cloman and Sam DeFazio.
Banker, who serves as the chapter's treasurer, said library staff will develop the programs, and several members of the chapter who are also authors will participate.
"We agreed to donate $1,000 to help them with the costs," said Banker, who served during the war as an artilleryman attached to the Army's 25th Infantry Division from May of 1952 to July of 1953.
The library board members approved revised operating and capital budgets for the 2013-2014 fiscal year with significant cuts in state and county funding, and without the projected 12 percent increase in health and dental benefits for HCPL employees, which Harford County leaders are planning to provide to other county employees.
Hastler – who was scheduled to express her budget concerns during a County Council budget session Tuesday afternoon – told the library board that HCPL officials are weighing drastic measures, such as stopping capital improvements at the Jarrettsville branch, in order to avoid significant disruptions in programs for the nearly 2 million users of Harford County library services.
"Hopefully we'll be able to obtain additional funding [from the county] but if not I think we have sufficient adjustments to continue our programs," Hastler told board members.
The HCPL director told The Aegis Tuesday that state funds would be cut by 2.19 percent for FY2014, on top of a 2.37 percent cut for the current fiscal year.
She said via text message the "net reduction" in county funds for the operating budget was $488,263, and $899,260 had been reduced from the county's capital allocation.
Digital materials use
Daria Parry, HCPL's associate director, presented "digital materials analytics" for March, which showed continued growth in the use of the library system's digital products.
Parry reported more than 8,400 checkouts of eBooks and audio books via the Overdrive service – 88 percent of those checkouts were for fiction titles, the majority of which were romances.
More than 600 movies, television shows, songs and audio books had been obtained via the hoopla streaming media service, which HCPL is currently beta testing.
Parry said 4,002 songs had been downloaded so far during the current fiscal year through the Freegal music service, 2,504 magazines checked out through the Zinio magazine service.
Nearly 900 animated children's books had been read through BookFlix and TrueFlix, and more than 4,400 interactive eBooks had been read via the Tumblebooks service.