Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County explores consolidation

Struthers, Campbell and Brownlee Woods libraries could consolidate into one location, as part of the proposal

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County is looking at the possibility of consolidating three branches.

Those branches — Struthers, Campbell and Brownlee Woods — are just a few minutes away from each other. Nothing is set in stone, but branch consolidation is something that has been discussed for years.

Heidi Daniel, executive director of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, said the proposed consolidation has been part of the library’s last two strategic plans. Those plans are open to a hearing from the community, and no decision has been made yet, according to Daniel.

Daniel said consolidation was considered because the locations are close to one another, many of the buildings are older and use of the libraries are declining.

“What we’d like to do is have a better building with longer hours and be able to offer really those modern amenities to the public but in a way that makes sense for us financially and from a usage standpoint,” she said.

If the library follows through with the proposal, that means a new library at a new site. The library has been in talks with community leaders and groups, and it’s also keeping a file of possible locations that have been suggested.

Margaret Bryan, who is at the Campbell library at least twice a month, said she isn’t concerned about the possible consolidation. The Campbell library is convenient for her, but she goes to other branches.

Bryan added that she believes the consolidation wouldn’t deter the library’s customers from going to a new location.

‘People drive further than that just to get a cup of coffee,” she said.

Bryan added, “You don’t want to see something that’s just going to sit here and not be used.”

As far as funding to build, Daniel said they have been planning for this.

“We’re not just pulling it out of a hat. We are still operating debt-free and planning for that future,” she said.

Daniel said another possibility is hiring a consultant who could recommend renovating a branch instead of building a new one. She stressed that consolidation is not about cutting back on staff at the library.

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