Millvale Community Library celebrates the heroes who made it happen
“You are nuts. But in a good way.”
Those words began a partnership that created an outlet for creativity and exploration in a hard-working and underserved borough: the Millvale Community Library. Grable Foundation Executive Director Gregg Behr spoke those words before agreeing to help fund a project that many others declined. Over the next few years, an old abandoned electronics store morphed into Millvale’s only library, a place that hosts 15,000 people every year.
On April 15, the library’s Celebration of Learning and Innovation will honor Behr and MCL Executive Director Lisa Seel for their contributions to the library.
“The library represents a pillar that was missing in the community,” Seel says. “A place where folks are treated equitably and given agency to change or affect their surroundings.”
Children are a major focus of library programming. In addition to weekly story hours, music and teen book clubs, the Millvale Makers program has really taken off. MCL teamed up with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s Makeshop to stoke the creativity of kids of all ages through hands-on creation.
MCL also wants to make sure kids’ brains don’t take a prolonged vacation this summer. They are offering a summer camp session focused on technology, art, making and social interaction.
Two and a half years after opening its doors, the library still faces funding and staffing challenges. But library founder Brian Wolovich says the obstacles they have already overcome prove that the sky really is the limit for the people of Millvale. Building the library took thousands of volunteers, tens of thousands of labor hours and generous donations. The upcoming Celebration of Learning and Innovation will honor all of these contributions.
“We cannot emphasize enough how much the leadership and support from Gregg Behr and The Grable Foundation and Lisa Seel’s constant commitment has made,” says Wolovich.
Witnessing the library’s successes makes taking a chance on a lofty project worthwhile. “All of us at The Grable Foundation are honored to support the Millvale Community Library,” Behr says, “a library at the forefront nationally of reimagining what a community library can be in service to children and families in the 21st century.”