ShareThis Page

Shaler North Hills Library recognized for service

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:55 p.m.
Pine Creek Journal
Vicki Gill, of Shaler Township, works on one of the computers in the adult section of the Shaler North Hills Library, a popular resource at the library. Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal
Pine Creek Journal
Amanda Flint, of Hampton Township, looks through the audio books at the Shaler North Hills Library, one of the many departments at the library. Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal
Pine Creek Journal
Sue Milavec, who has worked at the library for more than 20 years, helps a patron check out material from the Shaler North Hills Library. Louis Raggiunt | Pine Creek Journal
Pine Creek Journal
Riley Krause, 3, of McCandless; Gracen Brockett, 3, of Shaler; Abigail Krause, 1, of McCandless, enjoy one of the many story time programs at the Shaler North Hills Library. Louis Raggiunti | Pine Creek Journal

The Shaler North Hills Library staff is dedicated to living out its motto “Books … And so much more,” and it is the “so much more” that has earned the library national recognition.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Shaler Township library with the 2012 National Medal for Museum and Library Service yesterday, Nov. 14, in Washington D.C., for its services to the community.

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service is the highest honor given to libraries and museums. Shaler North Hills Library is one of 10 recipients from across the nation of this year's award.

“We are very proud to include Shaler North Hills Library among this year's National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners,” said Susan Hildreth, director, Institute of Museum and Library Services.

“Shaler North Hills Library has a proactive approach to providing community service.

Members of the library staff are just as likely to be out in the community working as they are to be within the library building. When they see a need ... they try to find a solution.”

Over the years, Shaler North Hills Library staff has worked to transform the building from a place to borrow books to the “central hub of the community,” said Sharon McRae, library director.

“We're not quiet at all,” said McRae with a laugh. “You see a place that's doing well and thriving.”

Patrons of all ages stream in and out of its doors for interactive story times, computer classes, art programs or a good book.

Last year, more than 50,500 people attended library programs throughout the year, and to date, program attendance has increased by 10 percent this year.

“This is why it's so special,” McRae said of the award. “The community has responded so much to what we do; it's really a community award.”

About four years ago, the library staff saw the circulation and attendance numbers leveling and made a conscious effort to get out into the community to see what resources and programs were needed and wanted.

The library added a community outreach position and worked to get programs and services to people in the community.

Today, the library offers everything from art education programs for children to game nights for teens and Tai Chi classes for adults and everything in between.

It is a designated Family Place Library dedicated to early literacy programming, and staff takes its anti-bullying puppet show to community groups, provides reading programs for preschools and day care centers and delivers material collections to senior citizen sites.

“I'm proud of our logo ‘Books … And so much more,'” McRae said. “I think we're living up to that. It's not just lip-service.”

Sandra Devonshire, of Shaler, said she views the library as her “second home.” She had worked at the circulation desk in the past, and today she brings her grandchildren to the library programs.

So, when she saw information at the Library of Congress National Book Festival on the award, she picked up a nomination application.

“When I looked at the criteria, I thought Shaler North Hills Library certainly fits the profile of a great library,” Devonshire said. “They work hard, and they're a lovely group of people, and their contributions to the community certainly deserve to be rewarded.”

In 2010, the library lost $85,000 in state and county funding, however; the library staff has learned to do more with less by focusing on the needs of the community.

“What makes me proud is we did step up and not back,” McRae said. “It would have been really easy to cut back … but as a staff we really thought differently.”

McRae said in addition to the library patrons, the library board, township officials and library volunteers are at the heart of the library's success. The library staff hopes to celebrate with the community that made the award possible on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the township's Holiday “Lite” Up Night celebration during which the library will be open and have a number of related activities available for community members.

“This is a very hard working staff. They are very dedicated to serving this community, but it's a community award,” she said. “They built this library … it's a success because of their commitment.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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.