Mount Pleasant Public Library News



Mount Pleasant Public Library Articles by The Mount Pleasant Journal and the Connellsville Courier


Support Your Local Library!!!  Write to your state legislature!

State's libraries are in jeopardy (Jun. 14 2003 Daily Courier online)
By Rachel R. Basinger

Public libraries across Pennsylvania will lose half of the state funding that they currently receive because of Gov. Ed Rendell's budget. They're not happy about it.

Staff, members and those affiliated with the Scottdale Public Library, are anxiously writing their legislators and the governor concerning the cut in funding, hoping that it will be restored in a revised budget, according to Judy Ermine, president of the library's board of directors.

Across Pennsylvania, the subsidy to public libraries is budgeted to go from $75 million down to about $37.5 million for the fiscal year starting July 1.

According to the Pennsylvania Library Association, the average public library gets a third of its operating budget from the state.

This holds true for Scottdale Library.

"Our operating budget is $95,000 a year, and $27,000 comes from the state. If that's cut in half, we're going to be looking at $13,500 more that we have to raise," said Ermine. "Right now, even without the cut, we're out there desperately having bake sales and other fund-raisers just to make the $95,000 budget."

Because the libraries have already received their funding for this year, the effects of the budget cut will not be felt until next year.

"If the funding is drastically cut, we're going to have to do something different, like decrease our hours or spend less money on books," said Ermine.

But they might not be able to do that.

When the state increased funding for public libraries about five years ago, some mandates included increasing hours of operation from 30 to 45 a week and spending 5 percent more a year, every year, on books than they did the previous year.

"We also had to raise $5 per person for our area, and we service 12,554 people in our area, so that's $62,770 we had to raise, and that's a state mandate," said Ermine. "When they cut funding, does that mean they'll cut our responsibilities as well?"

According to Tom Hickey, spokesman for Rendell, they (the Rendell administration) will have to see what the end result of the final budget negotiations are, but added that Rendell explicitly said in his campaign for governor that he would not put forth any unfunded mandates.

John Malone, president of the board of directors for Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville, said the library may have to think about cutting back hours as well.

"If we're only open half the time, that kind of takes away from what the library is intended to do," said Malone. "Libraries are one of the true community-type treasures left in Fayette County, and they're in jeopardy."

The annual budget of the Carnegie Free Library is about $200,000, according to Malone, and about 40 percent of that is state funded.

"It truly is a devastating blow to take 40 percent of an institution's funding away from them," said Malone. "I'm really disappointed that the governor says he's for education, but then he cuts public library funding in half. I don't know how he can make both statements at the same time, because I think libraries are just as much an educational institution as a school system."

The funding cut comes at a bad time for Mount Pleasant Free Public Library, too, which recently received the authority to expand its service area to include the township of Mount Pleasant.

"The number of people we now service has increased by three times, and because of that, we've increased our hours and the number of personnel," said Nino Barsotti. He added that the library also has been upgrading programs for seniors, students and children, and if funding is cut, they will feel the impact.

"We'll probably have to cut back on some educational programs, and we'll have to cut our staff and reduce our hours," said Barsotti.

Although the Dunbar Community Library is not a public library, it would still feel the effects of the budget cut, according to Joan Graziano, president of the Friends of the Library and library manager.

"We're not state aided, but we do receive services from the Monessen Library Center, which does receive state funding. So if funding is cut, I'm sure we'll see a decrease in our van deliveries, the sharing of books and multiple advisory services," said Graziano.

Ermine feels that eventually Rendell will have to restore funding he cut from the public libraries line item in the budget.

And that might be true, to an extent, according to Hickey.

"In late May when the federal budget was passed, about $900 million in additional funding would be provided to Pennsylvania over the next two years," said Hickey. "Half of that is expected to be dedicated funding, such as Medicare, and the other half is flexible funding, and the governor hopes to work with the legislature to restore some of the toughest cuts made. But he doesn't believe we can match cuts dollar for dollar."

"The cuts were tough to make, but there just was no money left and cuts had to be made all across the board," said Hickey.

The fiscal year ends on June 30. But, according to Hickey, the second part of the budget does not have to be passed by any specific date.

'It's amazing what you can do with a pen and a thought' (Jul. 2 2003-Daily Courier online)
By Rachel R. Basinger  

MOUNT PLEASANT -- From fairies who are sick of their beautiful worlds to anarchist spiders as big as humans, the short stories written by area teens participating in the Mount Pleasant Library's science fiction and fantasy writing program are as varied as snowflakes.

The program was started in April of this year after the library obtained grant money to hold some type of program for teens, and it is held every Wednesday, from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

Mary Lou Shick, an employee of the library; Jamie Falo, library director; and members of the library board brainstormed for some type of program that teenagers would enjoy.

So, in a time where Harry Potter is a household name, they thought a science fiction and fantasy writing program would be just the thing.

And those participating are having fun.

"It's amazing what you can do with a pen and a thought," said 17-year-old Amanda Cochran, who is participating in the program.

Cochran also works at the library, and before classes were finished this past school year, she went to the senior high English classes to talk about the program.

Barb Miller, a local author, oversaw the science fiction and fantasy writing sessions that ran from April 30 to June 4.

During that time, she talked about different styles of writing and how the students should refine their character and work on the plot of their story.

One of the activities for those involved was a progressive story. In other words, Miller started the story and then passed it around for each participant to add another paragraph or so to it.

"I think we all had a good time with that," said Cochran. "The story turned on a dime, and it was neat to see how everyone else writes."

Cochran's short story ended up being 20 pages long, while 12-year-old Frank McGrogan's story about a human-sized anarchist spider unfolded in 14 pages.

According to Miller, the first session on writing science fiction and fantasy short stories came to an end on June 11. Those stories will now be judged by the former editor of the Laurel Highlands Scene magazine. The winner will receive a monetary prize.

Cochran wrote a story about a fairy who is fed up with all the beauty of her world, who meets a man who is fed up with his world. When they get the chance to explore each other's worlds, they realize how wonderful their own world really is.

Dan Shick, 12, decided to write a story about a Marine. In fact, he actually read about the character in another book, but in that book the character died.

"I didn't think it was fair that he died, so I decided to add on to the book and focus on this Marine," said Shick.

Since June 18, members of the class have moved on to creating art work, ranging from charcoal to water color washes, which go along with their stories.

They will continue to focus on the artwork until July 16, when these will then be turned over for judging.

Shick thinks the winner of the art contest will actually be picked by popular vote of those attending the library. A monetary award will be given to that winner, too.

Beginning July 30, a program on "Mythological Creatures" will begin.

Mary Lou Shick will bring in real animal skins and claws as part of the program, and participants will begin writing a short story on a mythological creature.

If they have been involved in the program since the beginning, they can continue on with the first story they wrote or they can begin writing a new short story.

According to Mary Lou Shick, anyone interested in the programs can join at any time. The program is free to anyone who has a valid Mount Pleasant Library card.

For those interested in the program, but who live in Fayette County, they can also participate for free as long as they have an access sticker on their home library card, such as Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville.

If they do not have the access sticker, they can pay $15 to get a Mount Pleasant Library card.

"We're having a lot of fun and we're hoping to get more people involved," said Mary Lou Shick.

The scheduled program runs until Aug. 27, but plans are in the works to add on puppet and music classes.

Power Play (Aug. 22 2002)
By Amanda Cochran

Technological advancements have again changed the face of the Mount Pleasant Free Public Library.  The new Gateway computers with flat screens and high-speed Internet connections, installed earlier this year, were the beginning of the transformation into an age of growth and progression for the small-town library.  The installment of these computers was not the end of this transition, however.

In April 2002, the library begin installing the Access PA POWER Library.  The POWER Library (Pennsylvania Online World of Electronic Resources) consists of 11 databases, with a wider range of abilities.  Each database has a specific function, which can aid in many different situations; whether for research, a school project, or pleasure, one of the databases has the information that anyone may be searching.

 EBSCO Host, for example, a periodical database, includes newspaper and magazine articles that are updated daily with direct links to the Internet.  EBSCO's "Searchasaurus," an elementary and middle school version of the the EBSCO program, offers a less complicated search process, but just as updated and accessible.  The Access Pennsylvania Database, inside the POWER Library site, another inlet to information, shows the entire book collections of over 2,700 school, public, academic, and special libraries in Pennsylvania.  This program has proved especially beneficial to library patrons who wish to locate a book that the local library does not have.

Other programs include E-Library, another periodical database, Contemporary Authors  &Scribner Writers Series, a biographic database of authors and scholars, Big Chalk (a child's database), SIRS Discoverer Deluxe, ACCUNET/AP Multimedia Archive, and many other valuable informational databases which can be reached and accessed at any age.

To gain access to the POWER Library, a public library cad, which is free to Westmoreland County residents, a blue access sticker, available to Mount Pleasant Area residents, and computer/Internet aces, is required to use these resources at home or at the library.  The library staff will provide assistance in all processes.

Jamie Falo and Carole Klocek, librarians at the Mount Pleasant Free Public Library, attended a 3-hour training session, sponsored by the Monessen Library, to install and operate the programs at the local library.

Now informed of the processes, the librarians not the the program works for more than one age group.  "There are things for pretty much everyone.  I have seen college students, people getting their master's [degrees], and teachers getting information.  It's not just [young] students," remarked Falo.

President of the Library Board, Jim Cook, expresses the importance of the new technology at the library: "Maybe books are not the most important thin anymore."

"It's right at your fingertips," reinforced Falo, "People just need to reach out."

For more information regarding the program contact the Mount Pleasant free Public Library at 724-547-3850.

Read and Lead: Library concludes summer program (Aug. 7 2002) 

By Amanda Cochran

Recently, the Mount Pleasant Free Public Library conclude its first summer of organized reading with a thematic program entitled Spotlight of Reading.

The program was complete with reading books in many styles, which highlight different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, playing interactive games constructing a weekly craft, and nibbling on special treats that correspond to the theme, the reading program proved successful for both the library and the children of the local community.

The final week's theme, Bodies in Motion, was a hit with both groups.  From the sweeping moves and clicking castanets of Spanish dancing, to the shuffling of Native-American steps or the brisk movements of a Polka, provided by demonstration, the children enjoyed learning about the different types of ethnic dancing. 

Other traditional forms of motion were also explored: ballet, marching, and football, for example, were some of the subjects discussed and shown.

After the demonstrations, the children were asked to dance.  The majority of energetic youngsters chose to take part in the exercise.  The Twist, the YMCA, and the Mexican Hat Dance proved to have the most appeal among participants. 

The program concluded with an awards ceremony and a complimentary treat of star cookies and punch provided by the library.

Loud at the Library
Public library introduces summer programs (Jun. 20 2002)

By Amanda Cochran

Usually a scene of silence and reserve, the library, last Wednesday, was a setting quite different from the norm; filled with children crying, laughing, and making "music" of their own, the Spotlight on Reading program at the Mount Pleasant Free Public Library was launched.

With a wide range of activities for children from preschool to sixth grade, the coordina­tors, Marilou Shick and Catie Collins, read about and demonstrated different types of music and instruments. From the resonant tones of the acoustic guitar, the varying pitches of the trumpet, and the brisk tattoo of the snare drum, the children learned to iden­tify and name each family the instrument belongs. They also created their own "Bug Band" for their parents that correlated with a charming story about a king and his bands of bees, crickets, butterflies, beetles, and lady-bugs.

In another activity, an emotion/music association exercise, the older children painted what they felt to artists, such as Yanni and the Backstreet Boys, and selections such as In the Mood and Stars and Stripes Forever, producing on their easels a wide variation of colors and patterns.

With smiling faces and wide, curious eyes, the children learned about "Getting the Beat", the theme for the first week in the reading program at the public library; how­ever the theme will change next week to "Give Puppets a Hand", the second session in this summer-long reading event. It, like the first meeting, will also cover many types of areas: finger, stick, hand, and silhouette, puppets will be created and used in readinZg and presentations.

Continuing with numerous activities in drama, music, dance, and crafts, this Wednesday program, starting at 1:30 p.m. for preschoolers to kindergarten, and 3:30 p.m., for first through sixth grade, is open to all children who wish to learn about the library and reading. With session like "A Matter of Taste", "Its Only a Stage "Bodies in Motion", the programs e children about the benefits of "Children may continue to sign up Jamie Falo, librarian, "We want to  learn more about the library."

In addition to educating youth al library and its functions in everyday program wishes to, as Shick explained, "Show that the library is an exciting place."

Catie Collins, a senior at Mount Area, working on her final project, is doing the coordination of this program, reinforces Shick's statement: "[The program] makes reading more interest everyone. The children and their learn more about reading and have fi process-everyone is a winner at the library.

For more information about the reading program please contact the Mount Pleasant Free Public Library at 547-3850.