New Canfield Library Opens to Public Today

CANFIELD, Ohio – Bailey Mellon clearly was enjoying her morning outing with her grandfather, Jim Bowser.

“Whee!” the 3-year-old girl from Girard exclaimed as she slid headfirst down a sliding board in the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County’s expanded Canfield branch. From there she headed to the nearby balance beam in the play area, where she did “gymnastics,” and then back to a playhouse area, where she played with hand puppets.

“I like it,” she said of the new library. She also likes to read books, especially about animals.

Bowser, who lives in Liberty, works in the public library’s maintenance department. He brought his granddaughter Friday to the library system’s newly renovated Canfield branch during its media preview.

The branch opens to the public today, with a ribbon-cutting and dedication set for 11 a.m. Saturday.

The new Canfield branch is designed to accommodate patrons younger than Bowser’s granddaughter through those in their golden years, when they might want to sit in the library’s community living room and read quietly or drink coffee and socialize.

The former Canfield branch circulated more per square foot than any other branch in the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County’s system “so it was really outgrowing its space,” said Heidi Daniel, executive director. At 18,514 square feet, the new Canfield branch is more than three times the size of the 5,104-square-foot building it replaced.

“We have a large collection, around 65,000 items. We have a teen area. We have a children’s area. Yet the building manages to feel both large and open and warm and welcoming at the same time,” Daniel remarked.

“It’s exciting that we have a beautiful building like this,” said Linda Kucalaba, supervisor of the branch.

The library is laid out “to facilitate as our patrons move from infancy when you’re trying to build those early literacy building blocks,” said Judge Mary DeGenaro of the Seventh District Court of Appeals, who serves on the library’s board of trustees. The play area is “designed toward building those literacy skills without even realizing it, and developing a relationship with the library,” she continued.

“Although that area just looks like a whole lot of fun, it’s actually a space where every area has a specific learning outcome,” Daniel affirmed. “Children learn through play so we have that area designed for that. We don’t have anything like it in our other buildings.”

The Canfield branch, which cost $5.3 million to build and equip, features areas with age-appropriate materials for teens and adults, along with a community room and two smaller meeting rooms.

“One of them will have a Media:Scape table,” Daniel said. “It’s a co-working table where I can show you on the screen at the end of the table what’s on my laptop and we can work together in that way.”

Because the stacks and workstations are movable “we’re not locked into a particular floor plan,” DeGenaro noted. The branch, like several others in the system, also features self-checkout stations for patrons.

“People use libraries differently than they did 30, 40 years ago, so we need to make things that make people want to come here,” said Debbie McCullough, deputy director.

Patrons “want to engage with their neighbors,’ not “just come here for books,” she added. “We’re trying to keep ourselves vital with all these different services.”

Library officials received input from the Canfield community about a decade ago, when planning for the branch began “through right before we broke ground,” Daniel said. Among the ideas incorporated into the branch as a result of those discussions is the community living room at the main entrance of the library.

The branch also was designed to maximize nearby greenspace, DeGenaro said, with walkways leading to the Green and city and school buildings.” Canfield is one of those branches like Poland that was a very high pedestrian branch,” she said.

Pictured: Heidi Daniel, executive director of Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.