Phoenixville library celebrates grand reopening

Photo by Heather Tyrrell Brian Thornburn of Phoenixville and his 5-month-old son, Jackson, hang out in the expanded children's library at Phoenixville Library.

PHOENIXVILLE —Thanks to the many donors and people working to make renovations possible, the Phoenixville Public Library can remain relevant to the community, said Library Executive Director Lara Lorenzi.

Lorenzi was one of the representatives of the library addressing community members during a grand opening held last Sunday. The library celebrated its makeover including an expanded children’s library, a new community room, a computer room and a young adult space, with an open house and ribbon cutting. The circulation desk was also moved closer to the entrance along with the nonfiction section.

In addition, there are six more desktop computers in the computer room as well as 16 circulating laptops and seven computers downstairs in the children’s library.

The project was about $1.1 million, and was made possible by a $500,000 state grant and about $600,000 of private funding. The library’s renovations began in May. The renovations were recently completed.

Lorenzi said the library is evolving to continue to meet the community’s needs.

“ have to evolve to remain relevant in our world with technological advances,” she said. “We have to be the center that helps bridge the gap for those who have access to this technology and those who do not.”

She said in addition to what the library already provides, by adding new technology, expanded events and other services it helps “people all of ages to grow and learn.”

Susan Meadows, president of the board of trustees, spoke about how the library was important to her and her family. Meadows said she has positive memories of the library that span five generations: her, her mother, Dorothy Adams. her grandparents, her children and now her grandchildren.

“For those of you who knew my mother, you know what a special place this was for her,” Meadows said. “This is a place where she could satisfy her thirst for learning and knowledge. She was the valedictorian of the Phoenixville High School Class of 1935. Not a small feat for a woman back then.”

“Access to knowledge is a priceless gift that we give to the Phoenixville community,” she said. “With this renovation we ensure that future generations will benefit just as those who entered this building 100 years ago.”

She said the library is nothing without the community members.

Meadows also thanked the board members for their work on the project, the library staff, library foundation board and Joseph Sherwood, executive director of the Chester County Library System, for his assistance.

Meadows introduced Maureen Ash, president of the foundation board, and described her as someone who “pour her heart into this project.”

Ash said the project was years in the making.

Ash said the foundation board was dedicating its new chandeliers in honor of Development Director Susan Mostek, who had a bright spirit and strong leadership for the project. The presentation was a surprise to Mostek.

She thanked everyone who helped get the campaign going. She thanked Dr. Donald E. Harrup and his wife for their “faith and patience.” Harrup was in attendance.

Mostek said Harrup, a former local doctor and coroner, was the driving force behind the renovations.

Harrup participated in the ribbon cutting in the Carnegie area of the library.

After the ribbon cutting, Harrup said he was delighted the project had come to fruition.

“I am so glad they kept it in the community where it belongs,” he said. “It is the greatest asset to the community.”

Harrup’s legacy with the library began a long time ago. He said his maternal grandfather was a secretary of the school board in the 1900s and negotiated with Andrew Carnegie to construct the library’s building.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19) presented a citation to the library on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

“The two most fundamental pillars of the communities are libraries and the schools,” Dinniman said.

Dinniman helped secure funding for not only Phoenixville library’s project, but also Spring City and Downingtown’s library projects.