Library Receives $14K to Help Create Sensory Space

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County recently received $14,000 in donations from various community groups to help create a sensory space at the Boardman Library. 

In December, the library received a $50,000 grant from the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, awarded by the State Library of Ohio, to create a dedicated sensory space and offer additional programming and library services for those with special needs in Mahoning County. The space will include approachable play materials that users can see, touch and explore to help regulate their bodies through calming sensory experiences.  

Part of the grant requirement was to earn $12,500 in matching funds, which the library surpassed through the following donations: 

  • The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley: $8,000;
  • The Thomases Family Endowment: $4,000; 
  • The Boardman Rotary Club: $1,500; 
  • The Boardman Community Foundation: $500.

“We are grateful for the generosity of all of our community funders, including the Thomases Family Endowment’s support and investment in the Boardman Library sensory space, and we are looking forward to providing a better library experience space for members of our special needs community,” said Deborah Liptak, PLYMC development director. 

From left, Deborah Liptak, PLYMC development director; Aimee Fifarek, PLYMC director and CEO; Lisa Long, financial resource development director for the Youngstown Area Jewish Foundation; and Alexa Sweeney-Blackann, PLYMC Board of Trustees Development Committee chair.

The sensory space, which is currently under construction, can also be used for programming, such as sensory storytimes, and patrons will be able to book the space. It can also be used by patrons who need a sensory break while using the library. Work on the sensory space is expected to be completed by June.  

Additionally, the library plans to offer additional sensory programming and services at other library locations.   

“We are honored to be a part of this important update to the Boardman Library,” said Lisa Long, financial resource development director for the Youngstown Area Jewish Foundation on behalf of the Thomases Family Endowment. “It will give a safe space for those with special needs, and we hope it fosters a love of learning and reading for many generations to come.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.