Upgrades make library even more valuable

For many years the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County has worked to expand, update and, yes, beautify its facilities throughout Mahoning County.

Most of us can recall smaller and more outdated former library branches in Austintown, Canfield, North Jackson and on Youngstown’s West Side, for example, that since have been replaced by welcomed beautiful and utilitarian construction. They are providing incredible service to the public for countless uses that reach far beyond checking out reading materials.

So, after decades of upgrading other branches of the public library system, it was only fitting that the main branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County in downtown Youngstown receive a warranted upgrade and renovation.

So much more than just a repository for checking out and returning books, libraries today fulfill a need for community gathering places, shared state-of-the-art technology and providing opportunities for all ages to grow knowledge.

The $27 million investment to the 112-year-old downtown facility helps reinforce and preserve the value of this critically important staple in our community.

New additions to the building that first opened in 1910 include a 125-person meeting space, a Culinary Literacy Center, 36 computers, a digitization lab, eight study rooms with audio-visual capabilities, two electronic vehicle charging stations in the parking lot, a family engagement area that includes an open play area, and a do-it-yourself space to accommodate virtually any project that might present itself. Incredibly, it includes a 3D printer, a Cricut machine, a die-cutting machine, an audio-visual recording studio with podcast capabilities and even looms and a sewing machine.

And of course, no library would be complete without the improved children’s section and a science, technology, engineering and mathematics area.

Aesthetics also were an important part of the massive renovation that includes a restored glass skylight “Parthenon” frieze above the Grand Reading Room and a restoration of the Wick Avenue steps and bronze double doors resembling the library’s original doors.

Aimee Fifarek, the library system’s chief executive officer and executive director, described the project well when she called it “a celebration of Youngstown, of the library and its long history.”

She also pointed out the symbolism of items such as two lamp posts providing a metaphorical value because they emit “light that knowledge brings.”

Fifarek predicts the excitement and enthusiasm generated by the newly revamped library will have sustainability, even after the “wow factor” wears off. Specifically, it will continue to give many people an added reason to come to downtown Youngstown.

We agree. The upgrades will provide services to our community for decades to come, making the library even more of an enduring local treasure.

If you haven’t yet visited, what are you waiting for? Indeed, this facility offers much more than the old days when libraries existed merely for checking out and returning books.



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