Mengle Memorial Library History
On March 23, 1962, a notice appeared in Brockway, Pennsylvania’s local paper stating that the Public Affairs Committee of the Brockway Women’s Club would hold a public meeting to determine the degree of local interest in regards to a public library. On April 30, all public officials and concerned citizens were asked to attend a meeting at the high school on May 2, 1963.
The meeting got underway with the Public Affairs Committee of the Brockway Women’s Club in charge. After a meeting was set up with State Library representatives in the future, the meeting was opened for discussion. Several citizens expressed their sentiments concerning the proposed library project. Mr. Glenn A. Mengle then took the floor and declared he had a statement to make regarding a library in the community.
“Mrs. Mengle and I have shared a cherished dream of establishing the Glenn-Ruth Mengle Foundation for building a library in Brockway.” Mr. Mengle then went on to explain that is would be built according to the timetable set by themselves, and the people of Brockway would have to “be patient until that time comes.” Mr. Mengle added that his statement should not prevent the setting up of an immediate library in a suitable rented building. Mr. Mengle mentioned a sum in excess of $200,000 in the future.
First, a suitable building needed to be found to house the thousands of books that were not yet available and would not be available until all legal, financial, and organizational procedures were met. This was followed by many months of arduous committee work, drives for financial support and membership. There were many meetings with Pennsylvania State Library officials and Department of Education agents. Upon recommendation of these groups the Library Committee stepped out with pledges of financial aid by Borough and Township officials and public subscription and made the plunge.
The May 14th issue of the Brockway Record stated that a non-profit organization had been established to set up a library in Brockway. Now was the time to put on a drive for members and finances. It also meant the fledgling library could file for funds from the State Library Development Division. As the year 1964 drew to a close a nine-member Board of Directors had been selected to pilot the Brockway Public Library into full status as an educational facility.
In the meantime, a new post office building had been completed and the post office vacated the old First National Back Building. The abandoned bank building was offered to the Library directors as temporary quarters for the proposed library. Despite the slow progress, June of 1965 found a real library in the process of being furnished. The building began to buzz with activity: shelving was being installed, new lighting arranged, and a gift of new furniture was received.
On November 1, 1965 the Brockway Public Library opened with approximately 3,000 volumes. For five years the library flourished. The drive for $30,000 had reached $17,000 by mid-summer of 1966 and the newly-organized Kiwanis Club had pledged $20,000 over a two year period. As 1967 arrived 12,036 books were circulating, or were available to members. Free sound films were offered for loan and the Kiwanians had raised $10,701 on their pledge.
Then came bad news. The old First National Bank Building, as well as three other standing edifices were slated to be torn down to make for a brand new bank building for the Brockway Citizen’s Bank. Ground had already been purchased for the new library, but it was not until October 2, 1969 that the deal had been struck. It would be some time before the new building would be constructed.
In June the big move was on. Men and equipment furnished by Brockway Glass Co., together with a swarm of local volunteers moved more than 30,000 volumes and reams of paper and references into the Ferraro building a hundred yards or so up the street. The next summer the Fowkes Construction Company of New Bethlehem, was contracted to build the library. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held June 17, 1971. In March, 1973 the Brockway Public Library moved again; this time a short distance up the street into their new and permanent home.
On April 2, the doors opened to the public. Saturday afternoon at 2:30 pm, May 26, 1973 the wonderful new Glenn A. Mengle Memorial Building housing the Brockway Public Library was dedicated with impressive ceremonies apropos the fulfillment of ten years of dreams and persistent shoulder-to-the-wheel labor.
Reddinger, L. The Brockway Story 1822-1986: A Narrative History of The Brockway Area Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. Sykesville, PA: Nupp Printing Co., 1986.
Mrs. Martha Carlson continued with her dedicated service as head librarian at the library until her retirement when Mrs. Lois Miller became the director of the library. Upon the retirement of Mrs. Lois Miller in 1993, her position was filled by Mrs. Darlene Marshall a graduate from Clarion University with a Master’s Degree in Library Science.
At this time a
major renovation project was started and continued through 1994.
The library was refurbished with fresh paint, new carpeting,
and the children’s library was created to provide additional space
for the growing number of items for children and activities.
In 1996, Mrs. Marshall became the Jefferson County Library System Administrator and the Mengle Memorial Library became the County System Headquarters. During this year, the library was automated to help serve the community better. A few years later more computers were added for the public.
Mrs. Marshall was honored in 1997 by the Pennsylvania Library Association with the New Librarian Honors Award, “In recognition of originality, inventive ability and demonstration of promise for continued growth in librarianship.” She has continued to serve on statewide committees and implement emerging trends.
In the late 1990s, the main level of the library was made handicap accessible. A Key 93 grant helped fund a new ramp to the front entrance, a new landing, stairs and remodel the parking area. A few years later, another Key 93 grant helped renovate the ceiling and lighting for the main floor.
In 2007, a financial feasibility study was conducted to determine the need for an elevator and address major building improvements. A capital campaign was started in 2007 asking the Brockway community to help with the library improvements. The capital campaign contributions, grant money, and bequests made it possible to start a new renovation project in 2011-2012.
The library enclosed the open air courtyard in front of the library, adding a preschool area on the lower level and a genealogy room on the upper level. New carpeting was laid, walls were painted, furnishings were refinished or newly purchased, the building was made compliant for the physically disabled, and a new parking lot was added. Most importantly, an elevator was installed for patrons who could not use the stairs so that they would have easier access to programs held on the lower level.
Part of the capital campaign funds and grants were used to help provide new library services to the community. The library implemented a Library Services and Technology Grant that provided materials for the new Preschool Connections area. In January 2009, the library opened a teen room on the lower level and began providing weekly programs. The library also began providing weekly programs for adults over the age of 55. The success of these programs led to the library receiving the AARP Award for Excellent Library Services to Older Adults. The library has been providing technology programs on new gadgets and ebooks and is making plans to provide ebooks in 2012.