Etna planning its own public library
Etna plans to develop its own library — a space where all are welcome to gather and access a variety of free programs and services.
Etna Councilwoman Megan Tunon announced the news with her husband, Robert, an Etna Community Organization (ECO) volunteer, at an April 3 ECO Equitable Places Workshop.
Megan Tunon said discussions regarding the library started more than a year ago when Etna joined the Triboro Ecodistrict sustainable community development initiative with Millvale and Sharpsburg. As part of the Triboro planning process, community members created a map labeling Etna’s many outdoor assets. On the other hand, the group found that Etna lacked consistent indoor assets.
When Etna started its Triboro education series community meetings, organizers surveyed residents about what they would like to see in the borough. There were 110 respondents, and 19% said they want a library.
“We kind of thought that we were lacking a space, especially that kids and young people could go and gather and have the resources more on a day-to-day basis. We looked at our neighbors, and one place that really stood out to us was the Millvale Community Library,” she said.
Megan Tunon, who is spearheading the development, said she and the other exploratory committee members appreciate that the community led grassroots efforts to build the Millvale Community Library.
“You know, the library first and foremost had a collection of books and the technology for the people there from that community, but just the really wide range of programs and services that they offer is, I think, what we really feel like we could use the most here in Etna.”
The Tunons purchased the building at 341 to 343 Butler St. for the library as a limited liability company. The library is planned for the ground floor, Robert Tunon said.
The library logo is based on the “Etna for Everyone” posters that Robert Tunon and Alexis Boytim, an AmeriCorps VISTA representative who works with New Sun Rising, designed for the Ecodistrict Education Series: Equity meeting.
“We recognized really there is no space for all people that is free and open to the public. So, the symbol itself is about giving equity a home,” he said.
Megan Tunon said the Etna Community Library will offer more than books.
“We would like for the library to be a place to eat. One of our ideas is to have a community cafe inside the library that would be a pay-as-you-can, pay-it-forward model. If you’ve ever been to the Knead (Community) Café, it’s a really amazing space,” she said of a space in New Kensington that operates in such a fashion. “You can go there and get a really delicious meal for no money if you can’t afford it, or you can pay a little extra to supplement someone’s meal.”
The Rev. J.J. Lynn and Chris Hough, pastor and congregant, respectively, at Etna’s Emmanuel Lutheran Church are leading the cafe plans.
“They were definitely integral to bringing that piece to it through the exploratory committee, and they certainly know and view food as a way of bringing people together,” Robert Tunon said.
Megan Tunon explained that New Sun Rising is fiscally sponsoring the project. A steering committee will strategize ways to seek additional funding once the library’s nonprofit status is finalized.
“When we get to the planning stages, we’re obviously going to hold community meetings to get community feedback, and we want this to all be based on what the community wants to see,” she said.
“We are thrilled about the prospect of a community library in our town,” Etna Manager Mary Ellen Ramage said. “This has always been a community of togetherness, and this fills a void to help make that far more inclusive for everyone in the community. People here care — it is that simple, and this enables us to expand that reach to all within our community.”