Ligonier Valley Library History
On July 14, 1945, the library officially opened with 200 donated books on the shelves. Using all volunteer help, the library operated under the direction of the Library Committee of the Women's Club of Ligonier until January of 1946, when a Board of Trustees was organized. On March 26, 1946, the Ligonier Valley Library received a charter and was incorporated.
Through the years, the library grew in size and popularity. Originally housed in a tiny rented room on West Main Street, the library relocated several times to accommodate growing collections and services. In 1950, a residence on East Main Street was purchased. Initially, the library was housed on the first floor of the building, but by 1959 it became necessary to renovate the second floor for library use.
A plan for the construction of a new library building was announced in 1966. In a letter to the Trustees, Lieutenant General Richard K. Mellon stated that he and Mrs. Mellon had followed the progress of the Library Association over the years with great interest. The Mellon family donated land, financed construction of a modern library building, and established an endowment to help support operations. This generous and concrete response to the needs of the community gave assurance of the continuing growth of this vital institution.
The new library opened in the spring of 1968 and was officially dedicated on July 12, 1968. The Georgian-style building, constructed of local sandstone, is located on the northwest corner of the Ligonier Diamond.
By 1981 the library had a recognizable space problem. Total shelf capacity had been exceeded, yet the library continued to experience rapid growth, both in circulation and in patron registration. In addition to regular books, new collections of cassettes, videocassettes, compact discs, and large print books were being developed. By 1994 the overcrowding was impeding service.
The Board of Trustees of the Ligonier Valley Library formed a strategic planning committee in 1994 to identify long range goals and needs. Following the recommendation of the committee and those of a professional library consultant, the Board launched the "Building of the Past, Ensuring the Future" campaign to raise funds for automation, renovation and the construction of a new children's wing.
The project was completed in three phases:
Phase One: Library
Automation took a year of preparation. Over 55,000 items had to first be inventoried, then individually bar-coded. When this procedure was completed, a computer network was purchased and installed. The network enabled the existence of 20 individual workstations, as well as access to the Internet. Furniture, including a beautiful new walnut circulation desk, was purchased for use with the new computers. The computer network became completely operational in December 1999.
Construction of the Children's Wing
Work began on the Children's wing in May 2000, and was completed in May 2001. The wing is located on the former site of the library's garden. The decorative, English style brick wall that had enclosed the garden was saved and incorporated into the design of the new addition. The original sundial, mounted on the wall, was also kept and used as a design focal point in the wing.
The new addition contains an elevator and four new handicapped accessible restrooms, two upstairs and two located on the lower level. A second entry to the building was added which leads directly into the new wing. An enclosed brick patio with three teak benches surrounds the new entryway, giving a perfect place to curl up and read on a sunny day. The patio and the sidewalk leading to the entrance are paved with engraved bricks purchased by campaign donors.
Phase 3: Building
Renovation to the main building began in January 2001 and was completed in May 2001. Existing lighting in the building was refurbished; older parts were replaced with new energy efficient components. The lighting in the circulation area was completely replaced; the ceiling lowered and new ceiling tiles added. The old, bulky interior vestibule in the main lobby was removed and a new glass and brass vestibule was installed outside the main door. New carpeting, floor tile, and wall covering were added throughout the building. A sprinkler system, emergency lighting, and an updated fire detection system were added. New shelving was purchased for the video and audio book collections and young adult collections. The existing walnut tables were refinished.
The library's sculpture, The Vine of Knowledge by Virgil Cantini, had adorned the brick wall in the library garden for over 30 years. The vine is now mounted on a newly designed bulkhead above the circulation desk in the main lobby.