West Toledo Branch Library blends past with digital futureWritten by Tom Konecny | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The West Toledo Branch Library officially reopened Oct. 24 after a 13-month, $2.9 million renovation. The historic Sylvania Avenue site is one of 18 branch locations and part of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system.
“I’m not embellishing, this is the finest public library system of anywhere on this planet,” said Mayor D. Michael Collins. “There’s only one pathway out of poverty and that is education.”
Collins also referenced Bishop Daniel Thomas’ Oct. 22 Toledo Diocese installation homily, calling the youth the “wings” and the elderly the “roots” of the library.
Library Director Clyde Scoles and other dignitaries said the 84-year old structure now houses a new library, offering more than books. In addition to expanded space, the library features the system’s first-ever 3-D printer, a creation studio where users can record their own music and vocals, as well as convert old VHS tapes and mini DVDs to digital, plus 48 computers for public use, up from 12 before the renovation.
Julie Bursten, branch manager, had been eagerly awaiting the reopening after personally closing its doors. She said she wanted to reopen the West Toledo location as badly as its patrons, some of who were waiting by the front door the prior Monday when it held its soft opening.
The branch expanded from 18,987 to 21,515 square feet, 2,500 of which are utilized in the remodeled children’s area. The renovation preserves its Tudor-style architecture while blending fun, new areas, such as the children’s space with whimsical trees and beanstalk accented by garden-like creatures.
Individuals wishing to use the creation studio must simply have a library card and undergo some brief training. There, users can utilize GarageBand software along with a 16-channel mixer, drum pads, 88 MIDI keyboard and two HD video cameras.
“Patrons can now make demos to show a potential studio label,” said Dave Misko, systems engineer. Misko orchestrated the new room, the first of its kind in all of Northwest Ohio, and the main library Downtown will have one of its own next year. The cost of the creation studio was around $20,000, Misko said.
The entire library upgrade was mostly a local affair: among 24 subcontractors, 14 were from Lucas County, two from Bowling Green, and all but one was based outside Ohio. In addition, over 15 percent of the cost came from Minority Business Enterprise/Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity Unit participation.
The West Toledo location is often regarded as a community cornerstone, so beloved that the entire neighborhood is often referred to as Library Village.
“This is a wonderful day for this neighborhood,” said Sandy Spang, Toledo city councilwoman. “This is your day and it is sure to be celebrated.”
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur was also in attendance, and presented an American flag to the library which was flown over the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 14.
“I’m just so excited for this,” she said. “This is an accomplishment that we did together. Truly, this library system is a treasure.”
The West Toledo Branch Library is located at 1320 Sylvania Ave. in Toledo. Hours are Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Friday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 419-259-5290 or visit toledolibrary.org.