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Still fresh from merger, Bridgeville, South Fayette libraries look into future

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For The Bridgeville Area News
Jane Irwin (left) of Collier discusses her vision of communities in Allegheny County with Jenn Wolf (center) and Jessica Wolf — both of Bridgeville — on Wednesday during a meeting at Bridgeville Public Library.
State Sen. Matt Smith, D-37, (front left) discusses his vision of communities in Allegheny County with Bridgeville Public Library board member Mike Aquilina (back left) and South Fayette residents Glenn and Robin Schillo on Wednesday at Bridgeville Public Library.
South Fayette Public Library board member Darlene Susa-Anderson (left) and Jeanine Gerstbrein of South Fayette and Bridgeville Public Library board president Becky Wisbon (right) discuss their vision of communities in Allegheny County.

Patrons of the Bridgeville and South Fayette libraries took part in a county-wide initiative last week, talking about the futures of the libraries and what they'd like to see there.

They were invited in sessions at the two sites to discuss needs and strategies and make suggestions. The two libraries established an operations merger in November, and South Fayette library Director Rebecca Long has been overseeing both facilities since the beginning of the year.

Long led both meetings with Molly Krichten, coordinator of the Library in Your Neighborhood community and school program for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

“This is the perfect time to be having these conversations, given the newly established partnership between the South Fayette and Bridgeville libraries,” she said.

The idea of the conversations, Krichten said, was to “discuss, decide and do.”

While services are similar at both libraries, Long said, more adults use the services at Bridgeville while South Fayette's staff creates more children's and preschool programs. Community need always determines what each of the 45 public and 19 Carnegie libraries in Allegheny County have to offer.

Jennifer and Jessica Wolf, a mother and daughter from Bridgeville, attended the meeting in Bridgeville.

“It's important to come out on a cold night,” said Jennifer Wolf, 60, “I visit Bridgeville library a couple of times a week to go online. I also attend concerts and events.”

Her daughter, who has served on the library's advisory board for a year, said she hasn't noticed any gap in service since the libraries partnered.

“I have two children who love the library,” she said.

Jessica Wolf said she would like to see more social opportunities onsite, while her mother would like expanded hours and more information on new technology.

“This new library has a lot to offer with the community room and its selection of books,” she said.

At the Bridgeville library, 19 participants in the discussion said they consider the library a center for arts and a place to grow and learn. It also is a destination to read current publications, rent DVDs, hunt for a job, take part in a book club or use the computers and copier, they said.

Bridgeville, they said, has a small town feel and the library fits in well, they said.

Still, they said, library finances are a concern, at a time when the facilities must pay for technology. Long said community per-capita support for libraries ranged from 16 cents to $42.39 in 2012 across Allegheny County. South Fayette contributes $5.71 per resident, and Bridgeville contributes $2.76.

Bridgeville's group suggested more collaboration between school districts and libraries, and reference librarians to teach patrons how to successfully research topics and use technology.

Two more sessions will be scheduled in coming months at each of the libraries. Once all the meetings are held, discussion points will be consolidated and presented to library boards, the Regional Asset District, elected officials, each library and the public.

Long said the feedback is vital. “The local community feedback will provide the library boards and municipal officials with a vision not only of library services in the area, but how we envision the future of our communities as a whole,” she said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com. Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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