Western Allegheny Community Library prepares to open in new space

Grand opening set for Aug. 10


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After about 10 years of planning and 10 days of moving, Western Allegheny Community Library is set to reopen in a bigger building.

Patrons from Findlay, North Fayette and Oakdale will be able check out the new space at 181 Bateman Road, after the library reopens Monday and during the grand opening celebration Aug. 10.

The library is closed during the move.

Last week, a moving company packed and moved 46,000 books and media items, and drivers hauled more than six truckloads of equipment and furniture to the new facility.

Dozens of volunteers -- including West Allegheny School District athletes -- donated their muscles and wheels toward the effort to move to the newly renovated building at the Imperial interchange of Route 22/30 in North Fayette. It is less than a mile from the old location.

Since then, librarians and volunteers have been shelving books, assembling furniture, organizing materials and planning the ways they will take advantage of the new space, which more than tripled.

"It's just unbelievable. It's what we've been dreaming about for years," Pam Perry, president of the library board of trustees, said during a visit to the new library Monday.

At 10 a.m. Aug. 10, a ceremonial pass-the-book event will mark the grand opening of the library. A child who participated in the summer reading program will ride in a North Fayette firetruck, accompanied by township police, to deliver the last book to the library's new home.

Afterward, the public is invited to buildings tours, refreshments, character visits, craft making, face painting, a jazz ensemble performance, a used-book sale and giveaways, including the chance to win a Kindle.

Family activities the following week will include a story time at 7 p.m. Aug. 12, a scavenger hunt at 7 p.m. Aug. 14, and a talk and book signing at 7 p.m. Aug. 15 by Thomas White, author of "Witches of Pennsylvania."

The library leaves behind 3,900 square feet of cramped quarters and crammed bookshelves in the North Fayette Community Center, 8042 Old Steubenville Pike, to occupy the 14,500-square-foot office building that the library purchased last year.

The library initially will fill about 8,500 square feet of the new building, with expansion occurring later, depending on funds.

The colorfully painted space accommodates a cafe, meeting room, private tutoring rooms, staff work spaces, computer stations, study tables, lounge areas and spaces dedicated for youth.

"It's much cheerier, and I think patrons are going to really respond to that," Amanda Kirby, children's librarian, said.

The children's rooms -- for babies, toddlers and kids up to fifth grade -- have bookshelves at tot-friendly heights and enough space to potentially double the number of story times and other programs, she said.

Carrie Nurnberger, the young adult librarian, said a room for middle- and high-school students will accommodate materials and programming as well as provide space for lounging, studying, reading and surfing the Internet.

"I just want a space where teens can hang out because we've never had that before," she said. "This is a whole new ball game because you can do so much having dedicated space for them."

A $5,000 grant through the federal Library Services & Technology Act is helping expand programs and build a middle-grade collection for grades 4-7, she said.

Vivian Marr, who coordinates adult programming, is working with LifeSpan Inc. of Homestead to bring senior citizen activities to the new library.

LifeSpan closed its Oakdale Senior Resource Center last year and holds a limited program in the North Fayette Community Center. "Hopefully, we'll be able to do a lot more because we'll have a lot more room to do it," Ms. Marr said.

The Western Allegheny Friends to Enhance the Library, a volunteer fundraising group, will have more than triple the space to store and display items for used-book sales.

Six new laptops will be available for patron checkout and use within the building, which has wireless Internet.

"It's just a wonderful facility for the community," library director Marianne Sforza said.

The library bought the facility in May 2012 from Amcom Office Systems for $896,000 and then spent months renovating it.

About half the building purchase was funded by North Fayette, which gave $357,600, and Findlay, which gave $125,000. In addition, the townships increased their annual contributions for operating costs by a total of $68,000.

So far, the library board has approved a $235,000 renovation budget, trustee Patty Giura said.

The library still needs donations of cash or gift cards for furniture purchases and building improvements, including developing an outdoor area for patron use.

A furniture sale -- including desks, chairs and other items left by the building's prior owner -- will be held Aug. 16 and 17 in the warehouse of the new facility. The annual Books & Brew Oktoberfest fundraiser will be held Oct. 6 at the library.

Starting Monday, hours at the new library will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The library will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays from September to June.

Information: www.westernalleghenylibrary.org.

neigh_west

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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