Mahoning Public Library Connects in New Ways

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Innovation and technology will be at the forefront of the renovation of Main Library in downtown Youngstown and the primary focus in 2020 for the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County.

The library, founded in 1880 as the Reuben McMillan Free Library Association, has a projected 2020 operating budget of $17.17 million. Major sources of funding are the Public Library Fund, derived from a percentage of Ohio’s General Revenue Fund, and a local real estate tax voters renewed in November.

The renovation of Main will represent an investment in the community of about $25 million, says Executive Director Aimee Fifarek.

“As part of the planning, the library hopes to include a culinary literacy space, which will give us the opportunity to teach good, money-saving nutrition,” Fifarek says.

The library’s mission is to connect its patrons with the information and services they need.

Last year, overall circulation was 1.7 million, up 1.62% over three years, Fifarek reports.

The library responded to input from staff and the community about needs outside the scope of traditional library services such as social services, wellness, emotional health and more. The result was programming in areas that support wellness and the addition of a community support specialist to facilitate the need for social services.

“From our front-line staff, we heard concerns for patrons who needed a meal or shelter or had health-care or other social service needs,” Fifarek says. “Thanks to a $27,600 grant from the Gerald M. Kline Family Foundation, the library set up a pilot program with a community support specialist who to date has helped hundreds of patrons connect with organizations that could assist their specific needs.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.