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Youngstown’s West Library closes doors for final time

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The West Public Library in Youngstown shut its doors for the final time on Saturday.

But, preparations for construction of the new Michael Kusalaba Branch, at the same location, will begin soon. There is no set date for the beginning of demolition or construction.

The new library will cost $2.9 million. The Michael Kusalaba Fund donated $1.68 million for the building, the rest will be paid in cash by the library.

The final checkout from the library was a few DVDs and gardening books by Jasmine Handy. Handy would go to the library once or twice a week, but said she’s excited for the new building.

“It’s almost like anticipation. It’s like wow, can’t wait to see and come to the new library,” Handy said.

Whether to renovate the current building or construct a new one, Communications Director Janet Loew said there have been plans for the West Public Library for a while. Loew said the big donation made the decision easier.

“It’s really very bittersweet closing this library,” Loew said.

Last year, the library did a study and discovered it would cost well over a million dollars to correct issues such as the heating and cooling system and making the steps wheelchair accessible.

A new library doesn’t mean new staff though.

Current employees rotate throughout all 14 libraries in the Mahoning County, and no one is losing his or her job. As far as the books, workers will sort through them, finding which ones can move to other branches.

“Books that are older may not be proper for our collection in other libraries and will be sold through our friends of the library,” Loew said.

The library has not released the blue prints for the next building. Loew said they will have a public meeting when those are ready.

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