Millvale residents to cut ribbon in Sunday's library opening
August 15, 2013 9:15 AM
Faith Jacoby, 10, in white, and Kaylin Moss, 6, in stripes, search for string beans at the garden behind the Millvale Community Library in Millvale on Tuesday.
The Millvale Community Library, on Grant Ave. in Millvale, will be celebrating its grand opening on Sunday.
By Virginia Miller
It took six years, more than 50,000 volunteer hours and the involvement of a wide range of individuals, businesses and groups.
Now, the new Millvale Community Library is ready to hold a grand opening celebration Sunday with entertainment and a ribbon cutting in which the community is asked to bring scissors to participate.
Patrons will be able to check out books and other items beginning Tuesday at the new library at 213 Grant Ave. -- a building that is difficult to miss.
It's bright yellow with a sculpture out front of a dog balancing books on its head. Named Pages, the stone dog was created by James Simon, a local sculptor.
The grand opening of Millvale Community Library at 213 Grant Ave. will be held Sunday with live music, food trucks, face painting, art and games for children, and information booths. Grant Avenue will be closed between Sherman and Sheridan streets.
10 to 11 a.m. -- Free Yoga in the back garden area of the library. Participants should bring their own mats.
1-1:30 p.m. -- Steel Dragon Lion Dance, called Gong Lung, a 1,000-year-old dance from southern China traditionally performed to bring good fortune.
1:30-2 p.m. -- Community members are invited to bring scissors to take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the first library in Millvale.
2-3 p.m. -- Smokin' Section, the house band for KDKA-TV "Steeler Huddle" show on the backyard stage.
3-4 p.m. -- Disc jockey Damian Zipf playing top 40s from today and yesteryear.
6-7 p.m. -- Title Town Soul and Funk Party's resident disc jockey Gordy G.
7-8 p.m. -- Doug Khorey and His Band of Broken Hearts.
The effort began in 2007, when Millvale residents Brian Wolovich, then 31, a Quaker Valley Middle School teacher, and Tricia George, then 22, a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, came up with the idea for a borough library while participating in a borough cleanup. A survey of residents indicated they were interested, and a free summer children's library program opened in June 2008 at Millvale Community Center. The children's program was supported by a $9,000 donation from the Grable Foundation, which has provided additional funding, as did other foundations.
New Sun Rising, a nonprofit founded by Mr. Wolovich and his brother, Scott, sponsored the project.
The organization identifies projects that will improve the quality of life for people in Western Pennsylvania. It served as fiscal sponsor until the library received nonprofit status in 2012.
Shaler Area School District donated desks, shelving and other equipment from the high school library, which was being renovated.
Former Shaler Area superintendent Donald Lee is on the library board.
A table for computers was donated by the Sisters of St. Francis at Mount Alvernia in Millvale, who also provided grant money through its Portiuncula Foundation.
The children's program continued until 2009, when it was closed so that attention could be focused on completing the main library.
The property at 209-213 Grant Ave. was purchased in 2008 from J. Rudy & Associates, an electronics repair company, for $59,000. Pfaffmann & Associates of Pittsburgh provided initial architectural work for free before being hired through a $23,000 grant from Allegheny County Urban Redevelopment Authority.
The 2,300-square-foot space at 213 Grant was gutted for the library, and the adjacent space was used to store equipment but will be renovated for rental office space.
One upstairs apartment has been rented, and a second one will be installed to provide income for maintenance of the library.
Christine Bruneau moved into the apartment in December 2012. She originally became involved with Millvale Community Gardens and now maintains the library gardens in consultation with a committee, which continues the work done by original garden coordinators Tom Walker and Linda Lang.
"I was helping while the backyard was still gravel, before the grass was down," Ms. Bruneau said. "I thought the library project was amazing, from total destruction to a place of beauty inside and out."
Youth and adults from United Church of Christ built a 22-by-14-foot deck outside the back door.
"So far, total support raised to purchase, design and build is $675,000, with $200,000 of those costs coming in the form of donations of labor and materials," he said.
The borough will provide about $16,500 annually.
Amy Rockwell, who became Millvale manager in April, is impressed by the library project.
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for our community, when libraries are closing and we were able to open one," she said.
"It was an area effort, not just a borough effort, with people from neighboring communities offering support."
Mr. Wolovich, board president and borough council member who was nominated for a Jefferson Award in 2012 for his work, has spent untold hours overseeing the project.
"The biggest challenge has been time management and balancing family, work and volunteer commitments. Without the supreme patience of my wife, Mandy, and the sweet smiles of [2-year-old son] Elijah, I would not have been able to keep going."
Another board member, vice president Lisa Seel, 47, of Shaler, who has a master of arts degree in education and has taught at several elementary schools, is acting as the programming and operations coordinator until staffing decisions are made.
She planned many of the library programs and served as treasurer.
Future plans include installing solar panels on the library rooftop by Oct. 1 and generating 100 percent of the electricity needs.
Other goals are educating the public about the benefits of solar power and completing the construction work on the remaining apartment and office space by the end of 2014.
Mr. Wolovich said he hopes to pursue collaborations with local and regional partners and attain full integration into the county and state library associations and organizations.
The library's stated mission is "More than a library -- an agent for change."
To volunteer at the library, send a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Millvale Community Library, 213 Grant Ave., Millvale, PA 15209.
All volunteers must provide copies of a state child abuse history clearance and a state criminal record check.
Library hours are 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, noon to 6 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The library is closed Sunday and Monday.