Sewickley library celebrates 3-star rating

| Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, 6:21 p.m.

Sewickley Public Library again has been rated one of the best in the country, and residents of Villa St. Joseph have pitched in to help celebrate.

Last week, about a dozen residents made a variety of colorful 3-D and flat cardboard stars at the Baden Sisters of St. Joseph-sponsored facility, which focuses on care for older adults. The stars will hang in the library to recognize it's 2013 3-star status from the Library Journal, a magazine for librarians featuring book reviews and articles about trends in library programming and technology.

Organizing and leading the activity was Glen Osborne resident Janet Huddleston, a Friends of the Library board member.

Helping were volunteers Mary Newton of Aleppo, Janet Chace of Edgeworth and Lynee Phelps of North Fayette.

Villa Activities Director Christine Gebhart of Sewickley said she thought it was a great idea to connect the library and the facility with the art activity.

“The residents love to get the opportunity to do something for the community. It's an honor for them,” she said.

Retired sister of the Sisters of St. Joseph Barbara Sandor, who is a Villa resident, said libraries are important.

“Libraries are a vital part of life,” she said. We get so much from the library. You could almost get an entire education just from the library.

“I'm always asking kids if they read a book lately and have they been to the library lately.”

Library Director Carolyn Toth said only three Pennsylvania libraries made the star list: Sewickley, Green Tree Public Library and New Cumberland Public Library near Philadelphia.

The journal, which has been running the star library list since 2008, evaluates close to 8,000 public libraries throughout the country, and Sewickley's was one of 263 chosen as a star library. In the library's budget category — $400,000 to $999,000 — 30 were chosen as star libraries.

The library has had 3-star status every year since 2008, except in 2011 when it received 4 stars — the only library in the state to do so, Toth said — and in 2012, when it received no stars.

She explained the Library Journal uses data from two years prior.

So when the library was rated in 2012, data from 2010 was used when there were major budget cuts and the library had to close on Fridays, Toth said.

Since then, the library received funds from the Sewickley Valley Community Fund to stay open.

Libraries are evaluated in four categories — program attendance, circulation, computer use and visits per capita.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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