Now that the Southwest Public Libraries system has completed work on a new building in Grove City, officials are turning their attention to the Westland branch with an eye toward expansion in 2017.

Now that the Southwest Public Libraries system has completed work on a new building in Grove City, officials are turning their attention to the Westland branch with an eye toward expansion in 2017.

The plan is for about 3,000 square feet to be added to the Westland building, 4047 W. Broad St., sometime in 2017, communications manager Mark Dubovec said.

The Westland Area Library currently has about 25,000 square feet of public service space, according to Westland branch assistant director Michele Lowe.

While plans have not been finalized, the expectation is that the additional space will be used to expand the youth services department and provide better public access to meeting space, she said.

The expansion area will be located near the youth services department and will be built on vacant space between the library building and the Lincoln Village Plaza Shopping Center.

"We'd like to add more room for programming in youth services," Lowe said. "The ceiling is a little low in our current space and if we have someone like a juggler performing, it can be a little difficult."

The additional space could allow for the installation of sensory activities in youth services, she said. Patrons can enter the meeting space from an exterior door, but inside the library, they have to go through a storage room to get to the meeting room.

"With the extra space, we could provide an easier access so people don't have to go through a storage room," she said.

Planning for the expansion and final decisions about how the added space will be used is expected to begin early next year, Lowe said.

A timetable for when the expansion project will be completed is still to be determined, she said.

New visitors

The Westland branch got a little more attention while the Grove City Library was closed in September and early October for the transition to a new library building on Broadway.

"We weren't seeing droves and droves of additional people, but we were seeing some visitors who don't come by our library on a regular basis or maybe haven't ever visited our library," Lowe said.

And if the Grove City patrons were excited about their new library opening, they also seemed to be pleased with what they found at Westland, Lowe said.

"Staff in almost every department heard comments from patrons about what a gorgeous building we have and that they were pleased with the selection of materials they found," she said. "Many said they didn't realize we are a full-service library or thanked us for a friendly, helpful encounter they had with one of our staff members."

While it's likely that many of those temporary patrons won't return to Westland now that the Grove City building is open, "it is gratifying to know they left with a positive experience at our library," Lowe said.

The Grove City Library was closed between Sept. 2 and Oct. 16 for the move to the new building.

During September, Westland has had 19,841 user visits, an increase of 222 visits over those made in September 2015. Westland had 19,765 user visits in October 2016, just six more than in October 2015.

The number dropped to 16,333 for November, which likely reflects the fact that many of the branch library's fall programs wrap up in November, Lowe said.

Program attendance spiked in both October 2016 and 2015 to more than 1,500, double the attendance seen in September both years, she said.

"October is the peak of our fall program season, so I think that's why we see such high attendance numbers," Lowe said.

Halloween-themed programs also helped boost the October attendance numbers, she said.

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