Baldwin Borough Public Library to open at long last |
South Hills

Baldwin Borough Public Library to open at long last

They’ve been waiting decades for this moment.

Coming in mid-March, Baldwin Borough Public Library will open its doors to a new library in a building it can call its own.

“I pinch myself every day. I just cannot believe it,” said Nancy Musser, adult services coordinator who has worked at the library for 23 years. “It’s brand new, and it’s done for the community. The offerings are all there.”

The new Baldwin Borough Public Library, located in the shuttered Leland Center on Wolfe Drive, has it all: large windows, an open floor plan and space designated for children, teens and adults alike.

To make way for the new library, the old library, located in the Wallace School, will close Feb. 1. Librarians will pack up books and transition to the new space, which library director Jenny Worley anticipates will open in mid-March.

“I think Baldwin deserves something nice,” Worley said.

As she walks through the new, nearly 5,200-square-foot space (which is about 1,000 square feet larger than the old library), Worley points to all of the things the new library will provide for patrons.

Even outside, she points to a small, four-space parking lot with two handicapped spaces that was added in front of the building on Wolfe Drive that will make the building easily accessible.

A large window was added to the front to allow for natural light to come into the concrete block structure, which once served as a community center for Baldwin Borough.

Fixtures are made of bamboo, and wood inside is kept to a minimum. Shelving is made of eco-resin, a man-made, manufactured material, keeping the feel of the new library modern and versatile.

Attention to detail was given to everything, down to the LED lighting which was hung in shapes to look like chandeliers, to the ombre, teal-painted walls behind the shelving on two of the main walls.

The library worked with GBBN Architects on the project.

“We wanted it to be bright. Open was another thing,” Worley said, noting the goal also was to honor the history of the building by keeping the open beams showing in the ceiling.

The idea was to have a “big, open library,” with moments of focus throughout.

The adult computer space will be just past the main desk, featuring eight devices. They’re also adding five laptops that guests can use while in the library.

Teens will have their own space in the front of the large open room. It’s blocked off by walls that don’t quite reach the ceiling, allowing for it to be a part of the main library while giving them their own space.

The back of the library will be for kids, with tables of all sizes and 4-foot-wide ottomans on steel chrome legs that will allow kids to jump, play and scoot them wherever they want.

In the far corner, a small stage will serve as a “discovery center” for kids, with a bench built into the wall, where they can sit and read, do STEM activities or even build a puzzle.

The new library, which is located all on the main floor of the building, also has a program room that can be divided into two, if needed.

For staffers, this is the first time in the library’s history that they will have a workspace that’s not in the public view.

There’s so much to be excited about, Worley said.

“It’s goosebumps, a lot,” she said. “It’s excitement.”

The new space has been so long in coming, it’s hard for some to believe that it’s real.

It took until the second large grant came for Musser to believe it.

The library has been operating for 30 years out of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District-owned Wallace School, in a space that Worley said has been repurposed to its max.

It was divided among three rooms in the former school building. Businesses and other organizations operated from other parts of the building.

When Musser started at the library 23 years ago, there already was talk about moving.

“That’s how long I’ve been waiting,” she said.

Even with the building coming from the borough, it took money to get it ready. Still more is needed.

The library has raised $1.9 million out of the $2.1 million needed for the project.

Part of that came through a $500,000 Keystone grant from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, a $500,000 grant from the state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, a $100,000 grant from the Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund, and a $300,000 contribution from Baldwin Borough, money which leaders had set aside to repair the center’s roof.

The borough signed over the building to the library, but public works crews still will work from the basement.

The new library is 1.9 miles from the old. It’s near The Alden Apartments, with more than 1,000 units. The hope is to see more residents from there visit the library.

And while Musser hears of excitement about the new library, she also hears people worried that they’re moving to another part of the borough.

She always asks: “Do you go to Aldi’s? It’s right near there!” She adds, “Just come once and you won’t stop.”

Stephanie Hacke is Tribune-Review contributor.

Work continues on the new Baldwin Borough Public Library at Leland Center on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. The new library is scheduled to open in March.