Group moves ahead with effort to reopen Leechburg public library |
Valley News Dispatch

Group moves ahead with effort to reopen Leechburg public library

Chuck Biedka
Joyce Hanz | For the Tribune-Review
The Leechburg Public Library suddenly announced its closure on Thursday, May 30, 2019.

The Leechburg Community Library, when it was open, was a rare bird.

The library, housed inside Leechburg High School for 93 years, was one of only 86 public libraries located inside a school from among the 9,234 public libraries nationwide.

And, there are fewer than 500 public libraries in Pennsylvania, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services at Washington, D.C.

“That’s rare,” said institute spokeswoman Erica Jaros.

Also rare: this week more than 40 concerned citizens met in an effort to reopen the library.

Last month, the library’s board suddenly announced the library’s closure, touching off a firestorm of complaints.

Most of those who attended the meeting volunteered either to serve on a new library board of directors or otherwise help, according to three Leechburg residents and members of a steering committee who organized the meeting.

Jodi Womer said four Leechburg Council members were at the meeting, and that was encouraging to the others.

Some Gilpin and West Leechburg residents also were there. They are part of the school district and it’s their library, too.

Womer said the attendees were handed cards to indicate if they would be willing to serve on a reconstituted library board.

“It looks like we’re moving ahead,” Womer said.

Steering committee members Karen Freilano and Chuck Pascal, a Leechburg councilman, have been instrumental in the effort to revive the library.

There are many questions that need to be addressed, but Pascal said the library could reopen in a couple of months.

Womer, Freilano and Pascal said the inventory of books is a key issue.

Freilano said numerous people said they would accept appointment to such a board to direct the library.

She is asking residents to suggest who could fill a job as library director.

The three said many people have donated books in the name of loved ones.

“Are those book still there? We need to know,” Freilano said.

Pascal, an attorney and steering committee member, said someone even suggested a woman with librarian experience willing to take that job until a full-time librarian can be found.

Library location, hours remain issues

Leechburg Area School District Superintendent Tiffany Nix told the Tribune-Review she supports the work to reopen the community library.

“It’s a wonderful asset,” she said.

Remaining in the high school, though, would mean the library can’t be open during school hours.

Student security remains most important during the school year, “so regular library hours can’t happen,” Nix said.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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