Gateway to Lagrange community opensWritten by Joe Bellfy | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Adrienne Lewandowski’s elementary school did not have a library. Like so many of her classmates and neighbors, when the time came for a book report or a need to access global information, she would turn to the Lagrange Branch Library. And while Adrienne is now an adult, the young and old of the Lagrange community still look to their library as a vital resource.
“The Lagrange Library plays a key role, especially with our school children,” said Beth Lewandowski, Adrienne’s mother and president of the Lagrange Village Council, a community-based organization that serves the social, economic, and political interests of the area.
“Unfortunately, it just doesn’t compare to other libraries in the system — it’s fairly small and the hours of operation are inconvenient,” said Lewandowski.
All of that will change this week when the Lagrange Branch Library reopens in its new home at 3422 Lagrange Street, a $1.5 million facility incorporating plasma screen televisions, 12 free public access computers and a 50-person public meeting room into 9,000 square feet of space. Funding for the effort came from a 10-year bond levy passed by Lucas County voters in 1995.
“The new library will serve as a landmark, an entry point to the community,” said Terry Glazer, executive director and 16-year veteran of Lagrange Development Corporation, which brings together residents and business owners to focus on the area’s economic and ethnic diversity.
“It will be important not only in serving the needs of the community, but in preserving its unique cultural heritage — it really honors the neighborhood. We’ve anticipated this for a while now and it will be great to see it come to pass.”
Those closely involved with the planning and construction of the new branch credit the administration of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system for adapting to the shifting needs of the community while at the same time respecting its history.
“Without a doubt, our thinking and planning have focused on reflecting cultural trends and evolving our material,” said Faith Hairston, branch supervisor for the Lagrange Branch Library. Local residents were able to offer their input in the development of the new branch brick by brick — even the material that makes up the building’s exterior was researched to ensure that it visually meshes with other structures in the neighborhood. This will also be the first time in the 71-year history of the Lagrange Branch Library that its home has been planned and built exclusively as a library facility.
“The new branch will be adaptive by design,” said Hairston. “It is being built not just for today, but for 50 years from now. The opportunity for growth is built-in — from the welcoming, open atmosphere of the branch to its technology, which will really benefit the families of this community.”
Ultimately, it may be the library’s diversity that helps ensure its long-term success. The branch will continue creating customized categories of material that are specific to neighborhood tastes, and will now feature original collections from local artists and expanded areas for children and teenagers.