The Scottdale Public Library in Westmoreland County is a tremendous example of what can be achieved when government collaboration meets grassroots enthusiasm. Efforts to create a new community library engaged a diverse group of residents and even expanded to include two additional communities which had not previously enjoyed a state-assigned local library.
Scottdale’s previous library was located in a downtown storefront and was almost unusable by anyone in a wheel chair. Many areas could not be accessed at all, and there was no restroom facility that could accommodate a disabled individual.
But the new library is ramped, and built to ADA specifications. There is no area of the library that cannot be accessed by a handicapped individual. The new library also includes a 12-station computer lab for adults, a four station lab in the children’s room, and a station in the teen room (which itself is a new addition that caters to young adults). Furthermore, the library has free Wi-Fi for any patrons who bring their own device, and computer instruction is offered regularly.
The community room has become an integral part of the new library. Community organizations regularly use the room for their meetings, making them feel a connection and ownership of the building.
Sustainability was a key component of the project. The library was designed to allow observation of all areas from the circulation desk, reducing the need to add additional staff.
The library partnered with area schools for the “Lincolns for the Library” campaign. Children in the community raised $16,000 in pennies for the new building. As promised, the children were invited to the opening of the library, and the second grade visits each year for orientation.
Raising the matching funds required to apply for a Keystone Fund grant became a community-wide effort. Everyone celebrated when the front page of the local paper showed library director Patricia Miller and Board President Judith Ermine mailing the application.
The library, at the community’s urging, also collaborated with Jacob’s Creek Watershed Association to create a garden area using water drained from the roof and funneled under permeable concrete. The green space is used for outdoor programming and family enjoyment.
The library has become a community hub. A common comment received is “the library is a warm and welcoming place and represents the efforts of so many individuals and groups, a true example of money well spent!”