Glowing smiles from the residents of Philipsburg, PA adorned the scene of a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the grand opening of the new downtown location of the Holt Memorial Library on a blustery evening in January. Through $261,500 in loans and $213,500 in grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act delivered through USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program, the Holt Memorial Library finally has a home to call its own.
The library’s decision to renovate a former bank building rather than constructing a new library saved money and brought new life to an old structure. The front offices of the building were broken down into a large, welcome space for children’s activities, while the main portion of the room has accessible bookshelves, comfortable seating and a round bank of Internet accessible computers. The lower level of the former bank now houses a teen book area with café tables and chairs that give a coffeehouse feel.
This project is a great example of how Rural Development is making lasting improvements that are essential to maintaining small, rural communities. It always impresses me when small communities come together to help support important downtown community facilities. The Friends of the Library of Philipsburg raised $135,000 on its own for this project. Last year, Pennsylvania Rural Development funded over $90 million in Community Facilities loans and $2.1 million in grants for essential community services such as hospitals, libraries, first responder services and equipment.