“It’s not your grandmother’s library” is among the phrases Executive Director Diane Ambrose uses to describe the nearly 150-year-old Washington County resource center known as Citizens Library. Like libraries everywhere, Citizens has had to evolve in a world that increasingly relies on digital technology (instead of Dewey decimals). Now – from Lego Club and Yoga, to Art, Cooking, and of course, Book Club – what was once a quiet place to check out books in Washington County has become a community resource that offers a wide variety of services, programs, demonstrations and assistance to local information-seekers.
“We still have the traditional books and services that people have come to expect from libraries,” says Ambrose, “but we also are adapting to emerging technologies and our changing society. People want information fast, and they want easy access.”
The municipalities served by Citizens and the Washington County Library System include: Amwell, Blaine, Buffalo, Canton, Claysville, North Franklin, South Strabane, Donegal, East Finley, Morris, South Franklin, West Finley, East Washington, and the City of Washington. Citizens has also partnered with three Washington County school districts: McGuffey, Trinity and Washington – in an effort to enhance the library services offered by schools in those districts.
Recently, the library announced a new fundraising campaign they are calling the “Cornerstone Legacy Plan”.
The hope is that the plan will help with sustainability for many years to come, so that the Library can continue to adapt to the times while offering programs and outreach to the Washington County community, and providing library staff with a fair living wage. That plan caught the attention of employees from Marcellus Shale driller Range Resources at a recent public meeting.
“Citizen’s Library has been a pillar of our community for nearly 150 years,” says Range’s Laural Ziemba. “We recently paid the library a visit, and found a community resource full of life and activity, and heavily depended upon by school districts, job seekers, and general residents. It’s an important regional asset Range is proud to support.”
Ambrose and Citizens Library Circulation Manager Kathy Pienkowski both describe working at the library as a personal passion.
“Libraries are not just about how many books are checked out, or even how many people are walking in the door,” says Ambrose. “Our role is to make sure that we provide a quality service that users can access easily. And for me, I do this work because I want to make a difference in people’s lives.”
After working in a very different field before joining the staff at Citizens, Pienkowski says, “This job has been the most rewarding. Coming to work every day is a joy, being able to help people in the communities we serve.”
And while Citizens Library, like others, is continually evolving, their commitment to the community stays the same.
“Washington County’s first library was started in 1811 in the home of a young State Senator named Thomas Baird,” says Ambrose. “In 1870, Dr. Francis LeMoyne helped to start our town’s first public library. We have a long history here, and we consider ourselves one of the cornerstones of this community, along with local newspapers, churches, and universities. We are a cornerstone of information. We’re here to carry on what Thomas Baird and Francis LeMoyne started. And it’s our hope that with the continued support of companies like Range Resources, we will be here for the citizens of this community for a long time to come – hopefully another 150 years!”
This article is written and sponsored by Range Resources.