By Cheryl Bush
Warren-Trumbull County Public Library Marketing & Public Relations Manager
WARREN, Ohio – The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library system in 2022 saw completion of a major building project at its largest location and introduced several innovative changes to better serve customers.
Construction began in April 2021 at the Warren Library on a $5.3 million project to build a 14,800-square-foot, one-story addition on the building and to renovate the library’s original section that opened in 1971.
A ribbon-cutting and grand reopening celebration to mark completion of the project was held Aug. 20, 2022, for the community to tour the newly expanded and renovated building.
Comfort, flexibility and functionality were at the center of the design when planning the renovations, according to Jim Wilkins, executive director.
“Our goal for this project was to create a library that is a vibrant and welcoming gathering space for the changing needs of the community,” Wilkins says.
The project provides more room to house the library’s collection of books, music and other materials for all ages and features expanded space for the children’s department and teen area to offer enhanced programming and resources.
Sections of the original building were also renovated to better support the library’s technology needs and the need for more flexible spaces and public meeting rooms. Multiple meeting rooms on the first floor are available for the public to reserve and range from large gathering spaces that can accommodate up to 120 people to single-use study rooms. These rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including electronic screens, projectors, whiteboards and sound systems.
An adult computer lab includes 14 public computer stations with internet access, as well as copy, scanning and faxing machines. A new classroom provides a designated space for the library to offer public classes in a range of computer and technology subjects.
“We look forward to continuing to identify innovative ways to serve our community and to be a cornerstone for downtown Warren and Trumbull County for many years to come,” Wilkins says.
The library board of trustees worked with the Warren-based architecture firm of Baker Bednar Snyder & Associates Inc. for the building project. General contractor was VendRick of Brookfield.
Also in 2022, the board of trustees moved to eliminate all fines and late fees effective Sept. 1. Wilkins says many libraries nationwide are moving to a fine-free service model as a way to remove economic barriers to library use.
Overdue fines account for less than half of 1% of the library system’s total revenue and have a very minimal impact on the library system’s budget. Fees will continue to be charged for damaged library materials and for lost items that are not returned to the library.
Also in September 2022, the libraries in Cortland, Howland, Liberty and Warren returned to their pre-pandemic operating hours as they introduced additional morning and evening hours.
“This is another way we are making it as convenient as possible for everyone to access library services and materials,” Wilkins says. In addition to books, movies on DVD, music CDs, magazines and audiobooks, library cardholders can access electronic resources including e-books, e-audiobooks and digital music and movies.
Cardholders now have an option to borrow movies, documentaries and more cinematic favorites free from the library with the addition of the video streaming platform Kanopy to its digital library.
The Warren-Trumbull County Public Library comprises libraries in Brookfield, Cortland, Howland, Liberty, Lordstown and Warren; a Bookmobile; and Library-By-Mail service.