Libraries are community and cultural centers devoted to building education, inspiration, and community engagement in our area. Western Chester County has four different libraries, each unique in its own way. The Atglen Library, Coatesville Area Library, Honey Brook Community Library, and the Parkesburg Library are pillars in this region, always work- ing to bridge the community to the resources it needs.
Each library creates their services on a determina- tion of what interests and resources fit best for the community they are serving. Cultivation of programs is dependent on the makeup of local citizens. “The library reflects the fabric of our community,” said Atglen Library Director, Robbyn Kehoe “(our library) is truly a family place.”
Western Chester County’s network of libraries are building blocks for youth, providing invaluable free services to youngsters. Each one provides free-of-charge story time and reading sessions and/or motor skill and preschool programs to cultivate early childhood devel- opment. Children in grades kindergarten through 4th can build confidence in reading through a program called PAWS for reading, held at both the Coatesville Area Library and the Parkesburg Library. Kids can bring a book or choose one from the library and read to their four-legged friends.
Read 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is a program at Parkesburg meant to provide children with a strong start to school years. In addition, this fall the environmental kids club takes off at Honey Brook Library, exploring the topics of endangered animals and protecting our planet.
Libraries strive to enhance the well being of our residents, not only mentally but physically as well. Atglen Library integrates health into their services with their Easy Evening Bike Rides and the Bike Safety Rodeo in partnership with Bike Chester County. Library direc- tor Robbyn Kehoe explained the initiative is a forward thinking move, “the bike programs were inspired from Chester County Planning Commission’s new trail developments. We’d like to foster a bike culture in Atglen to promote growth and cultivate awareness of our borough.” When you think of the library, you don’t necessarily think of economic development. However, Atglen Library prides itself in taking strides to service the community- now and for the future. Robbyn added, “the initiative is one piece of the Library’s virtuous cycle of strengthening Atglen.”
Another library focusing on wellness is the Coatesville Area Library, which offers yoga every Monday and Thursday eve- nings and hosts the Chester County Food Bank’s Fresh2You produce truck. Coatesville does not have a grocery store within city limits; the truck brings fresh and healthy food choices to residents, resounding the theme of building a culture of health. Way to A Healthy Life is a seminar hosted by Parkesburg Library along with many how-to courses for the use of natural-healing oils. Honey Brook uses their green thumb to grow food for the Chester County Food Bank in their library garden. Volunteers and the Honey Brook Girl Scout troop maintain the veggies, plants, and flowers!
Western Chester County is deeply rooted with historical significance and heritage. Parkesburg Library embraces the preservation of history by offering presentations such as Lincoln and the Northern Central Railway, presented by historian John Brown on October 17. The library also schedules trips like the October visit to Mount Vernon. “Our event coordinator, Kathleen Hood, is creative with arranging an extensive variety of programs- cultural, educational, and entertaining” shares Executive Director of the Parkesburg Library, Tom Knecht.
Unique to Parkesburg library is their collection of historical texts, stop in and take a look at the collection. Each library location in the Chester County Library System has access to reference databases that can further enrich individual’s research on historical components.
Find the tools for starting a business, at the library! Each library location provides computers that have access to databases beneficial to business development. Such databases include information on industries, demographics, market research and investment information. Every Thursday, Coatesville Area Library partners with Pennsylvania CareerLink for one on one sessions with job seekers looking to create a resume or find a new career. Penny Williams, Director & Youth Services Librarian comments, “The Coatesville library is over 100 years old and is still going strong. Some say libraries are insignificant in this digital age, but we find that libraries are even more significant as we bridge digital, cultural, and literacy gaps –and we’re proud to say that the Coatesville library is not only surviving, but thriving!”
Adding to education, health, and history our local libraries are also host to many hobby workshops. The Honey Brook Community Library has a unique program called Sewing with Ms. Nancy. The program is in its 4th year for individuals ages 12 through adult. Nancy teaches attendees how to use their own sewing machine or one of the six that the library has available for use. Skills taught include choosing patterns, material, how to iron material, and how to make items. Other sessions include the Parkesburg knitting group and Atglen’s crocheting with Maria. Creativity thrives in a library with art programs and specialty events.
The Di-Atglen Wizard Faire exceeded expectations for Atglen Library this year with projections to continue growing the event’s reception in upcoming years. The Faire transformed Atglen into the wizarding world of Harry Potter, complete with Harry’s Platform-Nine train station entry and a real-life owl! “The library is a vital meeting place. Our community doesn’t have many spaces to meet, the library fills that need” says Robbyn Kehoe, Atglen’s Library Director. A local library is a valuable institution that serves as a gathering place for work, family, or friends. They are not just shelves of books, but more so- community hubs that allow everyone to feel safe and have equal access to opportunity.