Eve Wider and Jamie Falo share a common mission: to create comfortable, welcoming, safe spaces in their libraries that will encourage patrons to use their resources. Wider is the director of Millstein Library at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and the coordinator of the regional ULS Libraries in the University of Pittsburgh system; Falo is the director of the Greensburg Hempfield Area Library.
Recent renovations to the Hillman Library at the University of Pittsburgh provided the opportunity for Pitt-Greensburg to receive gently-used furniture that still has many years of use left. This furniture will update the interior of Millstein Library.
“We’re trying to rethink the first floor of Millstein Library to make more of an open space with comfortable chairs for the students to use,” said Wider, who is in the very early stages of planning the project. Her hope is to have these cosmetic changes made in time to welcome students back to campus in August. “We want to create space outside of the group study rooms and individual study rooms where students can work together,” she explained. “Students are using the library as a ‘third space’ that isn’t their residence hall or their classroom. It’s a place where they can feel at home and accomplish work. They can also ask for help and obtain guidance on their research.”
Down the road in downtown Greensburg, Falo has been orchestrating a major renovation project to the 110-year old building that houses the Greensburg Hempfield Area Library. Work began in late May and includes updating mechanical, electrical, and plumbing in the building; repairs to the roof and front stairs; repointing brick on the outside of the structure; and adding two new circulation desks. Work is also being done to bring the library up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Falo was able to secure a grant, in conjunction with the City of Greensburg, from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, the state Department of Education, and monies provided by the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund.
Joseph Bleehash, director of Facilities and Operations at Pitt-Greensburg, was tasked with finding a use for the gently-used furniture that Millstein Library would no longer need. He immediately thought of the Greensburg Hempfield Area Library and reached out to Falo.
“I was just getting ready to write a grant for furniture when Joe’s call came out of the blue,” said Falo. “It was such a relief to see the new furniture. We are so appreciative and thankful. It’s been a blessing.” Falo noted that the library opened in 1969, and photos taken that year appear to show the same furniture that is currently in use. “We were due for an upgrade,” she said.
At 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, June 24, a crew of four men arrived at Pitt-Greensburg with a U-Haul to begin moving furniture from Millstein Library to its new home at the Greensburg Hempfield Area Library. Over the course of the morning, 60 chairs, 12 tables, pinwheel study carrels, and tables with study carrels were moved from Millstein Library. Furniture will be in storage until the new carpeting is installed at the Pennsylvania Avenue location.