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A “Capital” Way to Support New Baldwin Library Effort

The Baldwin Borough Public Library held its first fundraiser for its new library April 2 at the South Hills Country Club.

While other communities are finding difficulties just trying to keep their libraries’ doors open, the is boldly going forward with efforts to raise funds to build a new home.

And at the first fundraising event of the library’s capital campaign last evening at the , more than 110 attendees showed their support for the venture, which has been many years in the making.

A three-piece band performed while library supporters and community figures dined and took their chances on a silent auction that included many items donated by local businesses.

The key themes of the evening were reinforcing the importance of a library for a community and how people of every age and economic background need a library’s services.

Baldwin Library Director Joyce Chiappetta told stories of grateful patrons and how the library impacts lives and brings people together.

“A community needs a library,” Chiappetta said, “just as it needs streets and roads, so it can provide a quality of life to its residents.”

The new Baldwin Library will be on Churchview Avenue where ’s rectory once stood. In addition to more parking, the new library will feature separate adult and young-adult lounge/reading areas, a children’s room and meeting rooms, and will have more space in general.

The vision of a new library began as the results of an independent study taken several years ago, said Jim Hamel, library board president.

“The poll indicated unequivocal community support for a new library and the sense of community that a library fosters,” Hamel said. “This is a great public showing, and it’s much appreciated.”

Kelly Widmaier, board assistant vice president, said that the average cost for a small library is about $2.9 million. To avoid borrowing funds, the board plans to apply for a state Keystone grant of up to $500,000, as well as other grants and fundraising initiatives.

“We will also seek foundation support,” Widmaier said, “but as many awards are matching grants, it is imperative to have a steady stream of local fundraising.”

The board hopes to have funding in place within five years, but once it is at the halfway point, it can proceed with the design of the library, said architect Kevin Hayes of Hayes Design Group Architects, who is in charge of the project.

“With the current library, they are doing what they can in a very limited space,” Hayes said, “and they’re managing.

“What the new library is trying to do is look to the future and meeting the needs of what people are coming to the library today for.”

Other fundraising events are in the works, including a May 17 book and bake sale at the current Baldwin Library (in the on Macek Drive) and representation at ’s Community Day on June 4.

A large-scale event is also planned for the fall, Hamel said.

“The local library,” Hamel said, “using very conservative estimates, has a return on investment of $5 for every dollar spent.

“If businesses, if homeowners, if government want to see positive results for their philanthropy or public dollars, the library is the place to invest.”

Baldwin residents can get up-to-date information about the library’s fundraising events and efforts at https://sites.google.com/site/baldwinlibraryfund/.

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