The South Library, at 1771 Market St., will remain open while renovations are completed.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — Construction is under way to transform a former grocery store into a state-of-the-art library at the corner of Market Street and Midlothian Boulevard.
Officials from the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County expect the $3.6 million renovation project to result in one of the most widely used libraries in the system.
The new library will include two meeting rooms, a children’s area, a teen area, computers with Internet access, audio-visual materials and a Chapters Cafe. The branch will also be the area’s first to include a special area dedicated to early literacy.
“This building will undergo a dramatic change both externally and internally to prepare the structure for new use,” said library director Carlton A. Sears. “It will literally be taken apart and put back together to suit the library’s needs.”
The branch will be known as the Newport Branch Library, replacing the South Library at 1771 Market St. Library officials chose to rename the branch to pay tribute to the neighborhood’s history, Sears said. The area draws the moniker from nearby Lake Newport, named for Mary Newport, a woman who donated land for the park.
“When the Newport Branch Library is finished about a year from now, it will be one of the most exciting — if not the most exciting — library in the county,” said Sears. “It will provide everything that you can find in the best libraries of the day.”
The South Library will remain open while construction is under way. Library officials expect the new branch to be complete in 10 to 12 months.
The design for the new library is the result of four years of planning and a great deal of community input, said Sears. Library officials drew inspiration for the design from public meetings and the city’s strategic plan, Youngstown 2010, said Sears.
“This location was featured prominently in the Youngstown 2010 plan,” he said. “One of our goals is to create a green space with trees and landscaped islands for an almost parklike feel.”
The library’s early literacy area was incorporated into plans as the result of community feedback, Sears said. The space will complement the library’s Baby Brilliant program.
“Our Baby Brilliant programs help babies learn pre-literacy skills and demonstrate techniques to parents, teachers and caregivers to help babies become successful readers,” he said.