Construction projects at Valley libraries create ‘experiences,’ spark economic development

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Libraries in Youngstown and Warren are making some major changes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – People don’t often think of libraries for economic development, but there are projects at two of the area’s public libraries that will generate $33 million in economic development.

Renovations are being done at the main libraries in Youngstown and Warren, both of which are prominent players in the central business districts of both cities.

Thursday afternoon on Mahoning Avenue in Warren, a groundbreaking began an expansion project at the Warren Library. Sixteen miles away on Wick Avenue in Youngstown, construction is well underway at Youngstown’s Main Library.

“The books are there. The books will always be there, but we want to create flexible space,” said Mahoning County Library Director Amiee Fifarek.

Fifarek says the hoses from the windows are heating the building because the HVAC system is being replaced. The sign out front shows the finished product, the highlight being a new building with a 125-person event center and a Culinary Literacy Center. Also new will be a DIY space with podcast and video studios and a hands-on STEM system for students.

“If you look back at our historic photos of this building, there was a lot of space for people. It was very flexible. We lost a lot of that when we started becoming a warehouse for books. Now that so much has moved online, we’re really looking more at experiences,” Fifarek said.

In Warren, Warren-Trumbull County Public Library Director Jim Wilkins said much of the expansion at the main branch will be a new children’s room and a new teen room. There will also be additional meeting rooms to get more people into the building.

“We decided that our children’s and our teen areas were just too small for what the community needed, ” Wilkins said. “The current building has only two meeting rooms. The new building will have up to 14, so we’ll have places for people to meet, Boy Scout meetings, Girl Scout meetings, whatever.”

Here are the details of both projects:

  • The main library in Youngstown is a $26 million project, which should be done sometime early next year
  • The Warren Library is a $7 million project, with an expected completion date of October of next year.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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