TOWNSEND -- It takes $300 to keep the library open four hours on Sunday afternoon.

"We're trying to maintain Sunday hours. It's busy here," said Stacy Schuttler, director of the Townsend Public Library. Without Sundays, the library is open 40 hours a week.

Since 2010, the library has opened on Sunday afternoons during the winter. Last year, they were open for 12 Sundays.

The four extra hours give a different user base a chance to use the library. Many people work during the week and are too busy on Saturday to stop in. "It's like a treat for them," Schuttler said.

High school and college students use the library for projects on Sunday. "We're the only library in the school district with Sunday hours," she said.

The additional hours provide a different time slot for programs, too. Last year, Roger Swain, past host of The Victory Garden on PBS, drew a crowd on a winter's Sunday afternoon.

The Friends of the Townsend Public Library have come up with a way to allow the library to offer its valuable services on Sundays during the upcoming winter.

Businesses can be part of the Sponsor-a-Sunday program. A $300 donation will keep the library open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for one Sunday from Jan. 12 to March 16, 2014.

"It's a creative way to try and continue on," Schuttler said.

The Friends have been getting the word out to businesses and getting them interested. They have approached members of the Townsend Business Association, issued a press release and posted on Facebook.

Sunday sponsors will get more community visibility from their contribution. To thank the funders, the library will feature the donor's business name on all check-out receipts and feature a display of books relating to the business during the sponsored week.

Sunday sponsors will be listed on a bookmark and on signs. The library website will provide links to the sponsors' websites or Facebook pages and include information in newsletters and press releases.

The idea was the brainchild of Karen Waxman and Carolyn Sellars, both long-term library supporters, Schuttler said.

Waxman is the vice-president of the Friends and a library trustee. In addition to being a Friend, Sellars is president of the Townsend Library Endowment Fund, a fund with over $800,000 in capital that provides additional funding for the library.

All of the positions are volunteers and help ensure the library has what it needs to be successful, Sellars said in an email.

In past years, the additional hours were funded by a private donor or by the library.

At the end of August, six of the as available slots were filled.

The Friends sponsored two weeks; Ducharme & Dillis Civil Design Group, Inc.; Portraitefx by Wallace Hill Studios; the TBA; and Radio Engineering Associates have each signed on for one week.

For information on the Sponsor-a-Sunday program, stop by the library at 12 Dudley Road or give them a call at 978-597-1714.