Oct. 21, 2019

HARRISBURG – Two Luzerne County libraries are among 19 statewide that will receive a Keystone Grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The Back Mountain Memorial Library, in Dallas, has been awarded $129,845 to renovate its sole meeting room to make it more accessible to patrons and to provide additional space to an increasing number of visitors.

Martha Butler, the library’s director, said the work will begin in the spring and should take about a year. She said that the library board has been planning and budgeting for this for five years and to know it’s soon to be a reality is exciting.

The meeting room is currently only used for board and committee meetings, classes and community organization meetings. But the plan is to renovate the room to be multi-functional. In addition to continuing to host meetings, the space will be opened to patrons during library hours when meetings are not scheduled so they can get work done, read or more.

“There’s been more and more demand for space from our individuals,” Butler said. “We have such limited seating as it is right now.”
With access to the Internet and a safe, bright space for adults and children to congregate, the library has thrived even at a time when books and music and news publications are going digital.

“Libraries are an invaluable asset to our communities and this grant will enable the Back Mountain Memorial Library to improve its meeting room space to continue to serve patrons and groups for years to come,” said Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20th.

Rep. Karen Boback, R-117th, also welcomed the news of the grant funding.

“As past president of the Back Mountain Memorial Library board of directors, I am fully aware of the many services this facility provides to our communities,” Boback said. “This grant will allow the library to expand its resources, which is a benefit to us all.”

In addition to the library in Dallas, the Wyoming Free Library, in Wyoming, will receive $27,500 to cover the costs of installing automatic doors, replacing its HVAC with an energy-efficient system and to replace lighting.

“I am pleased to see Wyoming Free Library benefit from this much needed grant,” said Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-120th. “Libraries are a cornerstone in all communities as they provide children and people of all ages with knowledge and stories to stimulate their minds and fuel their imaginations. I know this grant will allow the library to make improvements which will benefit all who visit for years and years to come.”

“The board of trustees at Wyoming Free Library are very appreciative of the grant provided by the Department of Education. We thank Rep. Kaufer for his support of the project. Without this funding, it would have been very difficult for the library to make the necessary repairs which will provide a safe and comfortable environment for our patrons,” said Colleen Garrison, president of the Wyoming Free Library Board of Trustees.

The grants are among $3.25 million awarded overall to improve physical facilities at libraries in 12 counties. The grants must be matched dollar for dollar by the libraries receiving the funds.

Butler said a combination of a bequest, fundraising and annual budgeting will pay for the local match for the Back Mountain Memorial Library. She also noted this was the second time the library applied for – and was granted – a grant through this program. The last was 1997 when $280,000 was secured for the expansion of the children’s room.