Since reopening their doors this summer following the COVID-19 shutdown, Carbon County libraries are seeing an influx in users.

But as the pandemic continues, libraries are also facing more expenses and less opportunities for fundraising.

Directors are asking the county to pitch in more money so they can keep serving the growing needs of their communities.

"We've lost a lot of our funding basically through donations because of the pandemic, we haven't been able to have our fundraisers, so the amount of money we have right now is very limited," said Marlene Basiago, director of the Panther Valley Public Library.

As funding falls, costs keep climbing, as extra cleaning supplies and other safeguards are now necessities to stay open. That's why directors are asking commissioners to increase county funding for libraries.

"If anybody has a question where they come first most of the time is to us. We would love to facilitate our communities in that aspect even more and with extra funding that would be possible," said Christine DeSousa, director of the Palmerton Area Library.

They say the pandemic is driving a growing need for library services, which go beyond the bookshelves.

"With remote learning increasing and some school libraries closed, parents and students need even greater access to our virtual resources and in-person services we provide," said Kara Edmonds, director of the Dimmick Memorial Library.

"Somebody has a fight with their landlord, they come to us to see if they can get legal paperwork or see who they should contact. Somebody becomes unemployed, they come to us to see where to start to fill out their unemployment," added DeSousa.

While some of the libraries are eligible for state funding, the amount of money being given to rural facilities has been slashed.

"State revenue to libraries has actually fallen overall by about eight percent in the last two years," said county commissioner, Chris Lukasevich.

And commissioners agree libraries serve an important purpose in our communities.

"We can't lose our libraries. It's helping the people now and it's preserving our history so I think whatever we can do, I think we should," said county commissioner Rocky Ahner.

Commissioners have asked the county's library directors to submit their request in writing so the board can look into the possibility of additional funding.