Creating a legacy in literacy

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

Messenger photo by Andrea Cordle Alanna Zimmer, 7, rests in Harper’s Grove with a good book.
Messenger photo by Andrea Cordle
Alanna Zimmer, 7, rests in Harper’s Grove with a good book.

After years of planning, setbacks and hard work, the new Grove City Library is now a reality.

A dedication and grand opening celebration was held Oct. 16 at the library’s new location, 3959 Broadway. Dozens of people involved with the planning of the library spoke at the dedication and hundreds of community members came out to get their first glimpse of the new facility.

“This project was a lot of work. We faced many challenges, but this opening is special,” said Mark Shaw, director of Southwest Public Libraries (SPL), which operates the Grove City Library, as well at the Westland Area Library.

The new library doubles the amount of space that the previous building on Park Street allowed. The new facility features an expanded youth services department and has more meeting space. There is also 30 public computers with Internet access.

According to SPL, one of the main complaints from patrons in the previous building was noise. At the new location, there are quiet, study rooms.

There is also a Women’s Civic Club Reading Room.

This reading room is a designated quiet space and features plush furniture and a working fireplace. The Reading Room also includes a portrait of Irene Harper.

Harper was hired as the first librarian in 1924. She held that position until her death in 1934.

The Women’s Civic Club has a a rich history involving the library. In 1917, the club established the city’s first public reading room, which was located in the First National Bank on Broadway. Now, patrons can enjoy the Reading Room and look right across the street to see the site of the city’s first reading room.

Pattie Moncman, president of the SPL board of trustees said it is no coincidence that the new library sits in the heart of downtown Grove City.

“A library is a place to learn, a place to escape. It is a magical place and it’s all your Grove City,” said Moncman.

The Grove City Library also includes Harper’s Grove, an early literacy section of the youth services department. The area features games and activities that promote reading skills in children. This special section is the result of a $100,000 donation from Laura Harper, president emeritus of the Friends of the Southwest Public Libraries board of trustees. Harper made the donation in honor of her husband, John and his aunt, Irene, the first librarian.

“This library is the realization of a dream,” said Jeff Davis Grove City councilman and chairman of the 2010 library levy committee. “This is a gift to Grove City and we are very grateful to all those who helped make this possible.”

The new Grove City Library was a partnership between the city of Grove City and Southwest Public Libraries. The city purchased the property for approximately $14 million and leased it to the library. After 30 years, SPL will take ownership of the building.

The city was involved in the project to help provide a state-of-the-art library for community members, but also because the library was part of the overall Town Center revitalization efforts. City leaders believe the library will not only attract more visitors to the Town Center, but could also stimulate development.

“Through the foresight and vision of the city leaders and the patience and perseverance of the library staff and trustees and their vision, we have come together for the betterment of our citizens,” said Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage. “It will be exciting to see the young and
old use this building to grow and enhance their quality of life.”

As part of the agreement between SPL and the city, the city will take ownership of the previous Park Street library building.

The Grove City Library is open from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information on the library, visit www.swpl.org.

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