Brownlee Woods and Struthers will stay in current location

AUSTINTOWN (June 14, 2018/For Immediate Release) – At their regular meeting on June 14, Library Executive Director Aimee Fifarek reported to the Library Board of Trustees on the status of the much-discussed merger project which has been ongoing for several years and included three branches – Brownlee Woods, Struthers and Campbell. Ms. Fifarek indicated the Brownlee Woods and Struthers branches would remain open in their current locations and that work would be done to increase usage. Plans for the Campbell Library remain the same, with a Library Express currently located in the D’Amato Field House and the new Campbell Branch Library being located in the Campbell Schools’ new center which is expected to open in 2019.

The last two Library strategic plans have included the need for review of the disposition and possible merger of the Brownlee Woods, Campbell and Struthers libraries. In July of 2016, the Library Board’s Building and Sites Committee approved hiring the partnership of HBM Architects of Cleveland with BSHM Architects Inc. of Youngstown to research options for these branches. During the process BSHM suggested trying to find a centrally located property to house a larger facility in place of the three smaller facilities.

Before the study was completed, a solution for library service in Campbell presented itself through the Campbell Schools. The consultants reviewed the offer and lent their support to the project.

In June of 2017, Library Trustees accepted an offer from Campbell Schools to be a part of the upcoming Community Literacy, Workforce and Cultural Center (CLWCC), which should open sometime in 2019. Also that June, the current Campbell Library building was closed due to structural issues. The former Campbell Library building was later purchased by the City of Campbell for $1 in November of 2017.

With the Campbell Library building closing, Trustees indicated that they wanted to continue offering library service in that area and Campbell Schools stepped forward to offer space in their high school’s D’Amato Field House. Library service continued in Campbell with Pop-Up Library visits in July and August until the Library Express inside Campbell High School opened in September of 2017. The Library Express is expected to continue to offer library service until the new branch in the CLWCC opens.

Finding a suitable location to consolidate the two remaining branches, Brownlee Woods and Struthers, proved challenging. The consultants’ recommendation was to put the facility in a high-traffic area and they identified Youngstown-Poland Road, near Midlothian Blvd., as the best location. After review of a number possible sites, the consultants were not able to identify a suitable location that was available for purchase or lease.

At today’s Trustee meeting, Executive Director Fifarek explained to the Library Board that the Library would continue to operate both Brownlee Woods and Struthers libraries in their current locations and to find ways to improve services and increase usage, thus resolving the merger question at this time. Both buildings are structurally sound and in good condition. She suggested reviewing services and the internal layout of these buildings to determine changes that would be beneficial to providing services the Library has found to be popular in other locations, such as improved meeting room space and additional programming, along with addressing any needed repairs.

Ms. Fifarek told the Board she had met with officials in Struthers and hopes to work closely with them to develop targeted services and partnerships with the Struthers schools, to increase usage. Once the new program is launched in Struthers, PLYMC staff will work on updates for Brownlee Woods. These efforts will be reviewed for effectiveness after one year.

In other news, Ms. Fifarek noted that Kravitz Deli has left the Poland Library after eight years and several businesses have already expressed interest in the space. A process will be developed to assess inquiries and proposals from businesses. She noted that not all businesses are interested in catering, so the Library will look at developing a list of approved caterers that would be available to patrons renting the meeting room.

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Strategic Plan (Library 2020) and Consultants Report on Brownlee Woods, Struthers and Campbell Libraries