Cranberry Public Library to expand within municipal building
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More of the best-sellers. More e-books. More special programs. More technology.
Those are the druthers of Cranberry Public Library patrons who have advised officials on a five-year plan for the future.
Director Leslie Pallotta said the public input confirms the sense of library officials and the library's board of directors.
"Our expectations match the community's expectations," Ms. Pallotta said.
Though the five-year strategic plan won't be finished in early 2013, some plans for the coming year already are taking shape. The most visual will be a physical expansion of the library, located in the Rochester Road municipal center.
The footprint of the building will be unchanged, but the library will be expanded into what is now the Cranberry Preschool space, and the preschool will be shifted to a storage area that had been used by the township's police department.
Ms. Pallotta said the project is needed to satisfy one of the top patron priorities: more programming.
"It's unbelievable, but programming has become incredibly popular -- so popular that when we ran the numbers, I kept checking and rechecking," she commented, noting that participation in speaker-programs and the like have grown by 300 percent over four years.
"People are looking to us for all sorts of programs, and we're trying to satisfy those desires. But we need more space," she said.
The types of programs the library hosts range from having a local pediatrician speak on potty training to a visit by popular children's book character Olivia the Pig to a scary movie screening for teens. More than 5,000 people have attended the library's 300 programs held during 2012.
"Some of our programs only attract a handful of people. But when we had the 'Psychic Sisters' in October, we had 80 people there," she said.
The need for programming space is the impetus for a plan to seek a state grant that would cover half of the $460,000 cost of expansion.
The library has 15,300 square feet of space.
The expansion would claim the preschool's 1,305 square feet.
When programs aren't being held in the new space, the areas could be used for tutoring.
Other goals for the coming year will be increasing the number of copies of best-selling books the library purchases. Currently, the library buys two copies.
That will be increased to three or four copies and in different formats such as large print, e-books and audio formats.
The new e-book collection has been identified as hugely popular with patrons.
Since its debut in early June, it has "taken off like nothing I've ever seen before," Ms. Pallotta said.
Of 7,236 total e-book checkouts from the 21 libraries in the four-county system, 1,601 have been in Cranberry, Ms. Pallotta said.
"The only reason the number isn't higher for Cranberry is because of the people who are on waiting lists," she said.
While it's unclear what changes may be coming in technology at the library, it's an area that's being closely watched, Ms. Pallotta said.
"We want to be on the cutting edge but not the bleeding edge. We'll be monitoring what's going on and gauging how to proceed," she said.
Meanwhile, library use continues to grow overall.
For 2012, total circulation (the number of items checked out of the library, from books and movies to audio books and e-books) will hit 315,000 compared to 277,000 in 2011. As for the door count -- the number of people who enter the library -- last year the figure was 162,403. This year, the library is on track to hit 172,000.
"We're really busy. It's an exciting place," Ms. Pallotta said.
The library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays during the school year.
First Published November 8, 2012 5:20 am