ShareThis Page

Donora Public Library full of history, small-town charm

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 8:59 p.m.
Some of the many books offered at the Donora Public Library are displayed. Stacy Wolford/The Valley Independent
The Donora Public Library has several computers for the members to use. Stacy Wolford/The Valley Independent
Judy Thomas, administrative assistant at the Donora Public Library shows off one of the hand puppets used during story time in the library's newly renovated lower level. Stacy Wolford/The Valley Independent

A community resource facility since 1930, the Donora Public Library recently renovated space to accommodate special events and activities for its patrons and neighbors.

Director Donnis Headley says the renovations to the lower level were completed in November. The space includes new lighting, heating and air conditioning and a small kitchen equipped with a refrigerator. She says the area also features smaller rooms partitioned for office-space rental.

“It's been an ongoing plan for several years that has finally come to fruition,” Headley says. “It's intended for a rental space but also gives us needed space for programs that attract large crowds here at the library.”

The director says the refurbished space is carpeted, and there are tables and chairs available to suit the needs of different groups. The area is accessible from the exterior of the building.

Headley says the lower level had been used as a storage area.

She says the facility is available for rent for parties, reunions, showers and other events accommodating up to small groups, preferably nonalcoholic events.

Dedicated in October 1996, the library is at 510 Meldon Ave.

It was formerly housed at the Tri-Plant Club until 1946, when the collection was relocated to the Community Center Building until the new facility was built.

Headley says the library hosts a Knit and Crochet Group that meets from 5:30 to 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month.

“It's open to anyone who wants to come and knit and crochet or to learn how,” Headley says. The sessions are facilitated by an “extremely talented” Christine Williamson. “We have (participants) as young as grade school. They love making chains.”

Headley says the knit and crochet enthusiasts share ideas, offer suggestions and learn tips.

The library serves Donora and Finleyville boroughs and Union, Carroll and Nottingham townships. It is an integral part of the area's rich history and works to preserve the steel-mill heritage of the river town.

The director says one of the more fascinating gatherings in past years was a history group that discussed happenings around the town of Donora and surrounding areas. One session included a movie clip of a film reportedly made in Donora in the 1930s.

“It was a core group mostly of people who have lived here all or most of their lives,” Headley says. “They could recite every store that was on every street and all the things the people carried in the stores and who ran them. It was really neat. It's something I'd like to see start again.”

In June, the Donora Historical Society hosted a program at the library that highlighted the history and evolution of the former St. Dominic Catholic Church.

Headley says Saturday movies, primarily geared for children, are expected to start showing again once a non-conflicting schedule can be arranged with a nearby library center.

A summer reading program is held each year, and a weekly story hour for preschoolers is expected to resume soon.

The library is open from noon to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Internet, Microsoft Word, Excel and Access PA Power Library are available to library patrons. To use a computer, patrons must present their library card.

“We have the Overdrive downloads that allow patrons to access books for e-readers for all kinds of devices,” Headley says. You need to come into the library the first time, then you can access the books that are available online from home by going through the Donora Library website (

A magnifying reader machine is available in the library's Lignelli History Room for patrons with low vision, and a state-of-the-art microfilm reader is on site, with articles from Donora newspapers from 1905 through the 1970s on microfilm. The articles can be printed, saved to a jump drive or burned to a CD. The room honors Donora Mayor John Lignelli.

The library is taking reservations for help with income tax-return preparations with volunteers from the AARP.

“We are always interested in new ideas for programs,” Headley says. “We have a very small staff, and I'm always welcoming input from others about what things they would like to do.”

Colleen Pollock is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.