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Library in Jefferson Regional Medical Center packs a lot into five-shelf bookcase

Library Director Jan Reschenthaler (left) and Library Program Coordinator Jane Milner launched the first “Jefferson Hills Little Library” at Jefferson Hospital last week. The “Little Library” will serve the patients, visitors and staff of the hospital, and the rules are simple: Take a Book; Leave a Book; Return it at your convenience; Or pass it along to another reader.

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By Dona S. Dreeland
Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Families waiting for loved ones now can use a new library at Allegheny Health Network — Jefferson Hospital.

And they don't have to return the books.

Jan Reschenthaler, director of Jefferson Hills Public Library, and programming director Jane Milner have created a small literary oasis at the Coal Valley Road hospital. A five-level wooden bookcase contains literature – ready for the reading and the taking.

In the spirit of the Little Free Library organization founded in Wisconsin in 2009 by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks, the women use a simple rule: take a book, leave a book. Return it at your convenience or pass it along to another reader.

The Wisconsin men were inspired, as their website says, by Andrew Carnegie's founding of 2,509 free public libraries in the 1900s. Carnegie's name still is a constant in library circles here in Pittsburgh.

After they heard about the idea at a state librarians conference, the pair were about “plain old community service,” Reschenthaler said.

“This is the perfect presence of our library in the hospital,” she said.

They connected with Phyllis Boykin and Candy Williams in the hospital's volunteer services department to place the books that have been donated by those who know about the library project and the many who donate to the library's book sale.

The library opened on Feb. 3.

“We waited for a snowstorm to do it,” Reschenthaler said.

Located outside the elevator on the hospital's second floor, readers can find best-sellers, chapter books, children's picture books and more. Many visitors often sit in that area waiting for family or friends to return from outpatient therapy.

Milner and Reschenthaler said if the library is successful, they may try to open other locations in Jefferson Hills.


And while the bookshelf supports readers in a small space, the library's newly-designed website offers an easier read via the Internet.

Library technical director Maureen Edinger helped to strategize when Reschenthaler and Milner began meeting with a representative from a design firm. Their website, created 15 years ago, seemed outdated.

“Now, we have a new look with updated graphics and colors,” Edinger said, “and we're more user friendly.”

The custom-made header shows the green hills of the borough accented by the Jaguars' black-and-gold colors.

New programming is front and center, and patrons now have the opportunity to connect with the staff and each other through the blog section. There are lots of links that help visitors learn library policies, checkout the reference center and be introduced to the board of trustees.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or

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