YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Donna Jenkins was a regular patron of the main branch of the Youngstown Public Library and Mahoneing County when she was in elementary school about 70 years ago.
She remembers going to the main library regularly with her friends after finishing classes at the old school in downtown St. Columbus. “I remember bringing a big pile of books home,” she said.
On Saturday afternoon, Jenkins and his daughter Susan Bead toured the newly opened General Library.
“It’s amazing. Isn’t it beautiful?” she said.
Jenkins and Bead were among hundreds of visitors from across the Mahoneing Valley – and in some cases far beyond – attending the $ 27 million recently completed renovation of the General Library.
The library began in August 2020 on a long-awaited project that included the construction of a 6,000-square-foot extension, new landscaping and renovation of the entire existing building, including rebuilding the entrance to the grand staircase facing Fifth Avenue.
This restored entrance includes what Amy Fifarek, CEO and CEO of PLYMC, told attendees at the reopening ceremony was her favorite part of the project: the new lamps “symbolizing the light of knowledge” and the caption “For the people” “, Above the newly installed bronze doors.
“That’s why we’re all here. That’s why the library exists – for the people, “she said.
Another historical aspect of the project was the return of the artistic glass ceiling of the Great Reading Room and the Parthenon frieze “in their former glory”, she noted.
“We have brought the historical parts of the library back to life – many of which have been completely changed or removed over the years,” she said in brief notes before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which reopened the public space.
“But this new chapter of the General Library is not just about honoring the past. It is also about presenting the possibilities of the future, “she said. The new addition includes a meeting place with state-of-the-art technology and a new culinary literacy center that will “allow us to honor and do our part to pass on all the wonderful food traditions of the Mahonin Valley,” Fifarek said.
Rick Ortmeyer, director of Bostwick Design Partnership, the project’s architectural firm, said the expansion and restoration project was unusual. There are many historic projects for renovation and expansion, he said.
“There are others who create great open spaces. But it is a rare opportunity for all three things to happen at once, “he said.
“This is an absolutely magnificent renovation,” said Carol Weimer, chairman of the library’s board of trustees, after the ceremony.
As a child, Wymer often patronized the old North Side branch on Belmont Avenue, but used the high school library because it had more resources for research projects, she said.
“There have always been skeptics who think we might have to move the Main Library out of town to one of the suburbs,” she said. “We are in great need here. If you come here during the week, you will see many people living in this neighborhood who do not have internet and use computers. It is a safe haven for so many people and a place where they can learn and enrich their lives. ”
By mid-afternoon, at least 500 people and families were present, without staff and guardians, officials said.
Pictured above: Amy Fifarek, CEO and CEO of PLYMC, speaks at Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
MORE ▼: 9 June 2022
Renewal, expansion makes the library a cornerstone of the community
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