On December 9th, 2021, ECO joined Etna Borough, Millvale Borough, and the Millvale Community Library to sign a Memorandum of Understanding; the agreement is a commitment for the four organizations to work together on developing a shared library system.
In 2020, the Allegheny County Library Association received a grant from the Forbes Fund to determine how Etna could begin receiving library services. The consulting company, 4th Economy, was hired to conduct the study and began looking at library service throughout the Triboro and the needs of Etna residents. They identified a lot of important information about our community: that 25% of households do not have internet access, and 10% do not have access to a vehicle. They also reiterated what we already know, that Etna does not have a daycare center or daily after school programs. The study reinforced that we need to bring back educational resources in Etna, and that a public space for gathering would go a long way in addressing the needs of the community.
The study, which concluded earlier this year, determined that the most efficient and economical way to bring library resources with high-quality programs to Etna would be to team up with the Millvale Community Library. This collaboration would allow each community to pull its resources together to hire shared staffing and ensure that programs and resources could be delivered in two locations as one system. In November meetings, the four entities that will be developing the system independently voted to approve a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the process for creating this new library system. As we move forward, each entity will work together to develop the structure and governing body of the library organization.
The development of the system is a separate endeavor from the development of the Etna Center for Community, which will house the library and other community spaces. As the four organizations continue to work to develop the system, the goal is to offer library programming within Etna through our partners at Millvale Community Library as soon as possible. We reached out to Nora Peters, the Executive Director at MCL, and she shared her perspective on the new partnership.
A library is a space where people of all-ages can come to explore, learn, and participate in their community. At the Millvale Community Library there’s no denying the truth in this statement. In my career at the MCL, I’ve been struck time and time again by how human our library is… how it was built in response to a need within the community, and how it continues to grow and evolve based on the needs of the people who use it every day. As we look towards this incredible partnership with Etna and the development of a Rivertown Library System, my staff and I are so excited to explore, learn, and participate in all things Etna. We have begun brainstorming ways to bring library services and programs up the river in the early parts of 2022, and can’t wait to hit the ground running.
This is such an exciting collaboration and we are looking forward to working with the innovative, caring and creative folks at MCL to bring library service to Etna. We will be announcing any upcoming programming collaborations that develop from this partnership in the months to come!