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Expanded children's section gives Murrysville library patrons room to move

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The Murrysville Community Library was overdue for improvements, library officials said, and earlier this summer, they unveiled an expanded children's section.

In the past, patrons had little space in which to maneuver and nowhere to relax. The bookshelves were narrow.

To make things easier, officials agreed expanding the children's department was the only option.

Library director Jamie Falo said the area now is more user-friendly. In addition to more book space, visitors can relax on new furniture.

Other amenities include technology updates, such as iPad tablets, new computers and a children-only computer station.

“There was a lack of space for two people to just come in and enjoy the area,” Falo said. “There was no place for parents to come with their child and read.”

That's not the case now.

“It's very inviting,” Falo said. “You can come and sit and enjoy.”

Carol Siefken, the coordinator of youth services at the library, agreed.

With 40 percent of the library's users being children, Siefken said, she is confident these changes will make it more inviting.

“I certainly think the space has opened up,” Siefken said. “The change of the color scheme is trendy and makes people want to stay and communicate with their family.”

Siefken said the changes will have a big impact on families visiting the library.

“Parents can be in the room while their kids run around looking for books,” Siefken said.

She said families “can do things together but still be independent of each other.”

The project started at the end of 2011. Funding came from a $50,000 grant from the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, which is administered through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries.

However, the grant came with a price. To receive the grant, the library needed to provide matching funds.

The Murrysville Community Library Foundation solicited donations and raised an estimated $450,000. In addition to providing the matching funds for the children's section, the campaign sought money for capital projects elsewhere in the library.

One was a complete overhaul in technology.

According to Falo, every piece of technology was replaced. Existing servers and computers were eliminated, 40 new computers were purchased.

“We were able to replace all of the technology throughout the library,” Falo said. “Before, the children didn't have Internet access; they could only search the catalog (of library materials).”

The new catalog now is an iPad tablet.

“The children are drawn to that technology and enjoy using it,” Siefken said.

For Falo, the best addition was the early-literacy station.

She described it as a single computer designed for children ages 2 to 5. It's loaded with different educational games.

“They are really enjoying it,” Falo said.

Given its success, she said, the library might have a computer customized for children ages 6 to 12.

The Murrysville library is on the second floor of the municipal building.

It moved into a location occupied by the tax office.

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