There's lots of news at Heritage Public Library in McDonald -- a new director, a new mission, a new card, new programs, new fundraising, and, hopefully, a new roof.
Jen Swearman has become director amid efforts to evolve the library, 52 Fourth St., into a community center and to connect more with the Washington County communities of McDonald, Midway, Mount Pleasant and Robinson Township.
Staff, volunteers and board members are re-energizing and focusing on ways to raise money, replace the building's roof and offer more clubs, movies and special events.
And this month, the McDonald library joined a one-card system that allows patrons to go online to order and check out books, e-books and other materials from 20 other public libraries in Washington and Greene counties.
"Until recently, the library did little to connect with the community," library board president Brian Merlino wrote in a recent newsletter.
"We became dedicated to the idea of a community center. This would be a center that listens to its patrons and offers many programs and events throughout the year."
The library continues to lend materials and offer use of a computer lab and wireless Internet.
New activities include monthly book clubs for tweens and teens, a tea etiquette class for children, a Lego club and other activities for patrons of various ages. A newly purchased film license allows the library to show movies.
A bake sale and a blood drive are being held at the library from 1 to 6 p.m. today.
The Friends group, which had been mostly inactive, has rebooted and needs additional members to help raise funds for library projects, equipment and supplies, president Pat Wyrick said.
When Ms. Wyrick took her granddaughter to the summer reading program last year, she discovered the library needed help.
"It was in dire straits," she said. "It was having financial difficulty. So that's how I got involved in the Friends group."
She said the Friends, staff and library board members are moving the library in the right direction.
Ms. Swearman, 32, became the full-time library director in April, having previously served as a volunteer and vice president of the board. She replaced Connie Bongiorni, who departed last year.
Despite financial challenges, closing the library was never an option, she said.
Ms. Swearman holds a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.
She and her husband, Chris, and their daughters, Dei, 8, and Ari, 7, live in Cecil, just across the McDonald border and within walking distance of the library.
Ms. Swearman said the library serves as an important community gathering place, especially for people on budgets.
"A place to have fun and discounted entertainment is priceless for families," she said.
Of course, libraries come at a price, and state funding has been scarce in recent years.
Heritage Library's budget is about $80,000 a year, including contributions from Washington County, the Fort Cherry School District and member municipalities.
At the library's request, McDonald this year increased its annual contribution from about $5,250 to $7,000. Mount Pleasant also increased its donation. Robinson donates $2,000 a year.
The other half of the library's money comes from local fundraising efforts by the library board and the Friends group.
In addition to general fundraising, the library is working on a goal to raise $35,000 to replace 6,500 square feet of defective roof shingles by the end of this year.
Ms. Swearman said that so far, 84 Lumber has awarded the library a $4,000 credit for materials, and residents have donated several thousand dollars. A motorcycle ride called Run for the Roof, planned for Sept. 17, will further benefit the effort.
"Our patrons have really, really been generous," she said. "People find this building important."
On Aug. 31, the library and McDonald Parks and Recreation will host a Civil War historical re-enactment in Heritage Park.
The 9th Pennsylvania Reserves will set up camp, and actors in character will interact with the public and give drill and weapon demonstrations. The library will sell refreshments and hold a used book sale.
The winner of a library contest to name the Civic War event will get a private screening of the movie "Lincoln" for 20 people.
For program information, contact the library: 724-926-8400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To volunteer with the Friends group, contact Ms. Wyrick: 724-926-8408 or email@example.com. Friends meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month.
Weekly library hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.