Driving home from New England in November we stayed in a pleasant hamlet, bigger than expected considering it’s in the “Pennsylvania Wilds.”
The lower doors to DuBois Public Library (DPL), a two story structure in the middle of downtown, lead into the meeting room or to a small foyer where autumn leaves decorate a well lit display case of Thanksgiving books.
In a curved part of this oblong community space, little square windows let sun stream onto the short stage. Abutted by lots of closets to stow programming stuff, it’s got stackable seating for 50 people and a kitchenette. On the far end, gorgeous oak and glass cabinets, perfect for exhibitions of collectibles, line the wall.
Though director Rebecca McTavish was busy organizing the Chamber of Commerce After Hours Mixer and Grand Opening (of their new elevator), she kindly took a few moments to take me around. DPL’s service population is about 18,000, extending beyond the 7800 or so within city limits. The budget comes from DuBois (like its namesake in Wyoming it’s pronounced du boys) and Sandy Township residents and the state.
At the top of the steps, a skylight provides more natural light.
When DPL began in 1920, it was the only municipally funded library in PA. This location was constructed in 1979 and has had several renovations. In 2008 a drunk driver unfortunately slammed into the building so despite a rehab in 2005, they had to fix that, plus some HVAC issues, and a federal grant let them make DPL more accessible. Both floors have ground level entrances, as per Rebecca, “nothing in Pennsylvania is flat” and total around 12,000 square feet.
Up here, plants and classy revolving racks set a welcoming tone and tables and the circulation desk were decorated with paper pumpkins. Wifi is free and there are five public computers and one for the visually impaired.
Online, customers can get chat assistance 24/7 via Ask Here PA or take a survey that keeps staff apprised of what is most important to users. You can download TumbleBooks and Overdrive ebooks and audiobooks or peruse topics in the numerous journals and databases of the PA Power Library. A to Z World Map is a good resource for students and the Facebook page publicizes upcoming happenings.
Browse mysteries and the booksale shelves then follow helpful overhead signage to World War II volumes or the PA history collection of about a thousand items.
A bench in memory of Mildred E. Hafner and a wheelchair ramp flank the upper entrance where a tall C of C banner Stand Up and Stand Out lists local business sponsors and a bulletin board and posters advertise DPL and district activities. Next to the lobby, a quiet study space for research has audiovisual equipment and a microfiche reader for the Courier Express in all its iterations from the 1800’s forward. Continuing their tradition of frequently revamping the premises 😉 it was just remodeled so a bathroom for the disabled could be added on the other side.
Grownups go to GED classes and lectures and get fit at line dancing or yoga and relieve more stress at coloring group, and both adults and teens can have fun geocaching.
A psychedelic carpet and patterned upholstered armchairs announce the spot where YAs have a biweekly reading lounge choosing from over 1200 books, graphic novels and manga.
In the center, long tables hold enticing gift baskets for the Friends’ raffle – they also have a Works of Heart craft raffle in spring and sell tote bags. A reading alcove presents a view through plate glass.
I headed back downstairs to Children’s, conveniently separated from the rest of the place so older folks aren’t bothered by the joyful noise.
Robyne Spillers, the Children’s Librarian, started here a year and a half ago. While chatting, she mentioned her last position was in a Steuben County, IN Carnegie redone by wrapping an exoskeleton around the existing edifice in a fashion similar to my hometown institution. She’s full time and appreciates the proximity of the performance area in the meeting room as she uses it a lot and keeps storytime cushions in the adjacent cupboards.
I looked around delighted by all the cool distractions. Kites and mobiles dangle from the ceiling, Tigger and Clifford perch on carousels and an oversize bear slumps by another stack.
Caterpillars above easy readers highlight the goal of 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. Plush toys and picture books top the shelves and the slatted surface above promotes titles.
In one corner, caretakers can find parenting information and pamphlets. The checkout station has indents featuring materials and a family comfort station behind it, and the coatroom is plastered with drawings.
Kid’s events include science and art sessions, bingo, dog shows, kite day, the Halloween parade and three different storytimes per week and they can attend all ages outings like the bike rodeo, potluck picnics and nature hikes.
DuBois hosts a branch of Penn State who donated a physics pinball table to introduce young ones to the concept of trial and error.
A sturdy wood dollhouse and a neat orange and teal play house catch my eye…
…by a BRIO train set with drawers beneath for extra tracks. The panels on the colorful rug it sits on teach the names of animals in English, Spanish and sign language.
Storage behind puppet show curtains holds jigsaw puzzles, busy boxes, an assortment of blocks and a plethora of planks that let tots learn about everything from hinges to cogs. Plastic bins contain themed Discovery Kits – insects, music… All you could want to keep boys and girls entertained.
The citizens of this pretty pocket of Pennsylvania are indeed fortunate to have such a lovely library.