South Fayette Township Library remained closed for more than two months after heavy rain caused one of its restroom drains to back up and flood the space in late July.
But library director Cheryl Napsha took advantage of what many now believe to be a blessing in disguise.
“It kind of worked out as perfectly as it could have with concerns to timing,” Napsha said in August when most of the summer programming was winding down. “We are ecstatic to have this opportunity. It’s one of the few good things that can come out of a flood.”
That opportunity was being able to better reconfigure the small space to make it more suitable and functional for all age groups.
After reopening on Oct. 10, library patrons, who were directed to Bridgeville Public Library during the two-month hiatus, can now enjoy what seems like walking into a brand new library.
“It’s much more organized because we were able to weed through our collection and get rid of a lot of clutter,” Napsha said. “It feels a lot bigger. Even though we didn’t gain any space, it looks like we did.”
The update more distinctly separates age groups, with adults having a space near the main entrance. The back of the library consists of separated spaces for a children’s section and a young adult section. The change allowed for adults to have an allotted area and toddlers to be closer to the restroom and further away from the temptation of exiting the building into the parking lot.
“It went remarkably smoothly despite the overwhelming amount of books,” Napsha said. “We color-coded each individual library section so the movers knew exactly where to place them.”
The project helped librarians provide designated space to separate sections and cross-train between the two libraries – South Fayette and Bridgeville – to create a closer overall staff, a goal Napsha wanted to eventually achieve as the director of both libraries.
“The staff has gotten to know each other much better, and it allows us to send our 20 staff members anywhere,” Napsha said. “We did programming at Bridgeville, and it exposed the library a lot. Our customers are just really happy about it, and we’ve only heard positive things.
“Without this wonderful flood, we wouldn’t have undertaken a project this size. It’s really a win all around.”