Expansion

A big change came to the library beginning in 1999, when Joanne Hosey was library director and the Board of Trustees (Don Hiwiller, Roger Crick, Sally Mortimer, Dorothy Holly, and Pat Mortimer) were asked by the Eccles Foundation if there was a project the library would like to pursue, because the Foundation had extra money to give away. After much discussion, the library director and Board of Trustees decided to remodel and expand the library. The reason for the needed expansion of 2,500 square feet and remodeling was due to the addition of computers to the library creating an overcrowded library and no handicapped accessibility to the restrooms, community room, and genealogy room. The expansion would permit the library to have all the services on the first floor of the library. The Board, then, acquired the services of Evans, Strickland, & Best Architects in Cranberry.

With the architect plans prepared, the Eccles Foundation granted the library $265,000 over three years to complete this project. The library would still need more money to make this dream a reality. As the money arrived, the board invested the three installments with INVEST in Harrisburg for municipalities and non-profit groups. The next step was to apply for a Keystone Grant to match the money that the Eccles Foundation had donated.

The Keystone Grant required a library building consultant to review the plans and to verify that the arrangements, space, and needs would meet all required state specifications and still provide room for growth. The library hired Albert Kamper from Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. In 2000, the library applied for a Keystone Grant to match the $265,000 funds. In this first attempt, the Keystone Grant application was denied. The suggestions from the state committee, who reviewed the grant application, were that the library needed to show more local support for the project and to have a more definite timeline in place for the project. The state committee encouraged the library to not give up, but reapply next year.

In 2001, informational meetings at the library were held to create awareness, enthusiasm, and interest throughout the townships, boroughs, school, and public sectors. A grant from Pennsylvania Citizens for Better Libraries was awarded to conduct the informational meetings. A series of meetings were started to write a long range plan for the library involving citizens from all the municipalities. A concerted effort to raise more local support began with the staff holding fundraisers and building the “Commemorative Wall”, which would provide local support for many years. The bricks for the Commemorative Wall would be a donation of $100 each and would have 13 spaces on each of three lines to honor or memorialize a person, class, or organization. A bulk mailing was sent out to every boxholder in Rimersburg, Sligo, and East Brady concerning the details on the Commemorative Wall.

Two large monetary donations were given to the library in 2001. Clayton Rhodes, a former resident and retired librarian and minister, gave $10,000 in memory of his parents, Agnes and Cecil Rhodes. Part of the money was to be used to install a display case in the library. Don and Mary Hiwiller donated $25,000 to be used toward the completion of the genealogy room, which the Board of Trustees named “The Hiwiller Heritage Room”. With the funds acquired through fundraising and donations, along with the interest from the investment of the Eccles Foundation money and many letter of support from the public and municipalities, the library reapplied for the Keystone Grant in 2001. The news arrived in the late fall of 2001 that the library’s Keystone Grant application was approved. They were on their way and the work had just begun.

The architects had to finalize the plans to get approval from the State Library to move forward. Bids were let and awarded to: General Contractor – Clark Construction Company of Titusville; Electrical – Fuellgraf Electric Company of Butler; Plumbing and HVAC – A & B Mechanical of New Castle. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Thursday, June 27, 2002. The next plans were made as to how, when, and where to relocate the library, so construction could begin.

In the summer of 2002, the library was relocated to two buildings in the Filetti Building between the pizza shop and laundromat on Main Street. The library was closed for the last two weeks of June and reopened in the relocated locations on July 1, 2002. All of this was possible due to an army of volunteers working two full weeks alongside the staff and trustees. The entire existing library was moved or stored. What wasn’t able to fit in the relocated library was stored in a Filetti Building on West Back Street and in Carol Scott’s building across from the Rimersburg Cemetery.

Construction was to begin on July 1, 2002 and end on January 31, 2002. The relocated library was operated from July 1, 2002 through February 28, 2003. The winter weather was very severe and there were several construction delays and some change orders. The library was completely closed in March 2003 to begin moving back into the newly remodeled and expanded library. Again, it took an army of volunteers from the very young to the very old to move books, computers, furniture, and other library materials. The doors opened to the public on Monday, April 7, 2003 for business. A dedication of the library was held on Friday, May 16, 2003 at 7:00 p.m.

During this span of time, 1999-2003, there were many decisions made, many meetings to attend, many high points, some low points, many tired bodies, and weary minds, but the project was completed. The money was well spent. The plans were well developed and followed through. The library community of Rimersburg, Sligo, and East Brady Boroughs; Madison, Toby, Piney, and Brady Townships have received a modern new library that is accessible and welcoming for all the citizens. It is also fully equipped for the 21st century by providing computer technology with the Internet, along with books, periodicals, audio-visual materials, and programming for children through adults.

In 1968, the land, building, and equipment were valued at $141,075. In 2005, the new addition, renovation, and contents of the library building were valued at $1,872,361 for the cost of a new reproduction of the library.