YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County had a banner year in 2022, marked by the completion of its two-year renovation of its main library.
New features include a 125-person meeting space; culinary literacy center, complete with 14 cooking stations; a family engagement area with activity spaces for the youngest library patrons; and the restored stained-glass skylight in the grand reading room.
“It was a long process getting to this point. A major renovation project during a 100-year pandemic is not for the faint of heart!” says Aimee Fifarek, CEO. “But we did this with the community at the center of our vision. Today, our event space is bustling with community organizations hosting meetings, our culinary literacy center offers a variety of classes and our 113-year-old main library is back in action writing its next chapter.”
Last year also was busy throughout the library system, she says. The Summer Discovery program, which resumed after the beginning of the pandemic, was “a smashing success,” with 767 finishers and a 36% completion rate, up from 25% in 2021, according to Fifarek.
Librarians and staff in branches across the county hosted programs with community members and organizations.
And the library expanded its mobile WiFi hotspot rental, laptop and iPad lending programs, which were the top three most popular items in in 2022 with a collective 4,312 checkouts.
The library enters 2023 with the aim to continue rebuilding and strengthening its missions: to connect, inspire, and enrich, Fifarek says.
This includes the creation of a sensory space at the Boardman Library and offering programming for patrons with special needs, adding Lego League programming to help students in grades 2 though 4 explore the fundamentals of engineering, and partnering with Salem Public Library to offer mobile kitchen carts and help families and school-aged children learn how to cook.