Thirty-two years after it opened in its now-old facility and a couple decades after fundraising began for a new site, the Cambria Library is due to open its doors to the public at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 26.
The community responded to the Friends of the Cambria Library fund drive — “It’s an amazing community,” said Jeri Farrell, president of the nonprofit group — raising matching funds towards the overall cost of about $4 million.
Work on fitting the inside of the new but never used building at 1043 Main St. began in July. The old library closed Nov. 27.
About two dozen people, a mix of staff and, mostly, trained volunteers, was busy Dec. 9 moving in more than 400 crates of carefully packed books that had just been removed from what is now an almost empty former library building a block away at 900 Main St.
The mood was elated and the pace a couple of notches shy of frantic. It only took about an hour for the determined crew to drag all those heavy containers out of a rented delivery truck and settle them into their new areas.
As the volunteer movers paused occasionally to catch their breath in the fast-paced endeavor, there were lots of “ooohs” and “aaaahs” as they caught glimpses of the new facility’s many windows, light and spacious atmosphere and banks of empty shelves.
Some of those shelving units came from recently closed book stores, according to Farrell. Through dogged fundraising in the past couple of decades, Friends had supplied half the funding for the project, along with a goodly share of the strong backs needed to make it all happen.
In the new building, Farrell said, Friends is to have its own “store” in which books, book bags and other items can be sold.
The crew of movers in the new building that morning included: Supervisor Bruce Gibson; Christopher Barnickel, the county’s new library director, and several members of his staff, including Cambria Librarian Joen Kommer and Library Assistant Destiny Carter; Muril Clift and Gail Robinette, directors on the Cambria Community Services District board, and their General Manager Jerry Gruber, who manned the boxes’ transition from truck to dolly; members of the Rotary and Odd Fellows clubs; and stalwarts from the Friends of the Cambria Library, including Farrell and her husband, Terry Farrell.
Rotarians and Odd Fellows members, trained in the library arts by county staff and volunteers, also had been front and center Dec. 2, as they packed up the approximately 18,000 bar-coded volumes, CDs, DVDs and digital media, plus periodicals and paperbacks. Then came the move. And their work continued Dec. 10, with the painstaking task of unpacking and shelving the materials in its new home.
The Cambria library branch is one of the county’s most heavily used libraries per capita with 4,700 cardholders checking out 10,000 items per month. It has survived over 30 years in increasingly cramped quarters with limited parking accommodations.
The new site has 5,800 square feet, more than double the 2,300 square feet at the former facility, has more parking, more computer access for the public and enlarged multifunctional areas for children, teens and adults.
While the library resumes its regular hours on Dec. 26 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, closed Sundays and Mondays), a community celebration is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the new facility.
Follow Kathe Tanner on Twitter at @CambriaReporter.