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Cranberry Public Library ready to begin $460K renovation project

| Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The first phase in what will eventually be a major overhaul of the Cranberry Public Library will kick off Monday with some modest renovations at the nearly 40-year-old building.

The library, inside the Cranberry Township Municipal Center along Rochester Road, will be closed through Wednesday so the circulation and reference desks can be merged into a central “Ask Here” desk, and the teen section is expanded, said Leslie Pallotta, library director.

The $20,000 to do the work will come out of a $30,000 bequest the library received from Cranberry resident Margery Himes, 89, who died this year. The remaining $10,000 from the gift will be placed in an endowment to benefit the library, Pallotta said.

Early next year, the library plans to spend about $460,000 to create a large multi-purpose room that can be split in half with a retractable wall. The project also will include new heating and air-conditioning systems, roof repairs, electrical upgrades and construction of an outdoor reading garden.

The project will be paid for with a $230,183 grant from the state's Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, which will be matched by the municipality, Pallotta said.

Creating additional public meeting space is an important part of fostering “community collaboration and engagement,” said Jerry Andre, township manager.

“We don't have a traditional downtown area or main street, so the municipal center has become the central gathering place in our community,” Andre said. “We relish the fact that numerous groups including youth sports organizations and the Scouts meet here regularly. So its vital that we provide sufficient space to accommodate their needs.”

Pallotta said addressing the needs of the community's growing population of young people is part of her “wish list” for the library.

“Expanding the teen section is something I've wanted to do since I started here about six years ago,” she said. “We did not have a lot to offer teens, so we hired a teen services librarian, created a teen advisory board and increased the materials available for them.”

To create a separate space for teens that includes lounge furniture and stations to plug in devices such as laptop computers and tablets, the library will have to tear down a wall to provide access to a small meeting room, she said, adding that expansion will increase the size of the teen section by about a third.

During the three days the library will be closed for construction, fines will not accumulate and items that are due will not have to be returned. However, items that are due at another library can be placed in the outside collection box to avoid fines.

Materials that have been requested by patrons will be held until the library reopens.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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