Library's North branch to close

Much of the library's children's collection will move to the Main Library.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The North branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, which has seen declining numbers of patrons in recent years, will permanently close May 14 at 5:30 p.m.
The 6,400-square-foot library at 1344 Fifth Ave. was one of the branch libraries targeted for closing because it's only 1.2 miles from the Main Library and more patrons have been opting instead to visit the Main Library since it was expanded in 1996, according to the library system.
Population in the North branch service area has decreased by 27 percent since 1990 and now stands at 10,978, according to the library system. Projections show the population declining by an additional 13 percent in the next five years.
Notice of closing was posted at the North branch Tuesday. Two book drops -- for books, DVDs, CDs and audio books -- will remain until June 30. The book drops will be emptied regularly.
Staff members will be relocated to other libraries.
North branch patrons are encouraged to visit the Main Library for their reading and research needs or to attend a program. "North Library's patrons are an important part of the library system, and we hope to continue to fill their library needs," library director Carlton A. Sears said.
Difficult choice
"Closings are decisions which are not easy to make," Sears said. "Over the years, since our branches opened, there have been many changes in the county, our libraries and in the people that use them. Populations shift. The economy changes. Use fluctuates. Program attendance and service needs change in response to changing demographics.
"Now, many years later, we see the library must also make changes and some of those changes and decisions are complex and clearly difficult."
Much of the children's collection at the North branch, built in 1965, will be relocated to the Main Library, Sears said. No decisions have been made about the property itself. "It is the library's hope and intention to see that the buildings are put to a good productive use that is appropriate for the community," Sears said.
As part of Library 2011, the library's seven-year improvement plan, several under-used libraries were identified to be closed or consolidated. Two branches closed in April 2004, Lowellville and North Lima. The closing of North will bring the total number of libraries in the system to 16.

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