The Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library was established in 1968 as a gift from Mr. Ralph M. Eccles for the communities located within
Mr. Eccles wanted to do something for his community of Rimersburg, so in 1957 he opened the
In 1967, Mr. Eccles wanted to continue his philanthropy for the community he loved. In talking to the local people he learned that a “library” would really be an advantage to the young people. When the property beside the local post office became available, his vision for having a new building was on the horizon. He then approached the Superintendent of the
The library facility had two floors with the main library collection on the first floor that included an office, an adult section, children’s section, two restrooms, and janitor’s room. The second floor had a community room with a kitchenette. There was a mechanical room attached and a parking lot in the rear of the building. In the front of the library there was a large lawn with trees, shrubbery, flag pole and walks leading to the front doors. The contractors who created the library were: Architect- Charles P. Grow, General Contractor- Ralph Switzer; Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning- Ralph Maxwell; Electrical- Thomas Kennedy.
After the dedication, the library building was just that a building with no stacks, office equipment or books. Joanne Karpinski and Emily Luton, who were graduates of
The librarians and directors who followed Joanne Karpinski and Emily Luton were: Maxine Rumbaugh (1968-1994), Julie (Gatesman) Schill (1975-1995), Mary Ann Stewart (1995-1996), Joanne Hosey (1996-2006), Ginger McGiffin (
The library began hiring staff in 1982 to help with the increasing collection and programs. Barbara Priester was the first staff to be hired, followed by Sue Burns, Sharon Custer, David Anthony, Patrick Belfield, Sherri Campbell, Linda Defibaugh, Bonnie DeFini, Nancy Shanafelt, Mary Elizabeth Hawk and Judy Bashline. At the present time there are three full time and two part time staff.
The first janitor was Dessie Bish followed by James & Frances Fowler, Williard Smith, Shirley Helsel, Jacqueline McCafferty, Bruce & June Campbell, Nancy Shanafelt, Mary Hawk, Edgar Hawk, and Kari Shanafelt. Presently the janitorial work is done by two part time persons.
The first Board of Trustees consisted of five persons appointed for 5 year terms by Rimersburg Borough- 2, Union School District- 2, and the local bank- 1. The first trustees and those following were: B.G. Corliss, Donald Murphy, Ralph Youkers, Gerald Snyder, Daniel Filetti, Marion Filetti, Paul Barger, Jackie Stemmerich, Richard Prisuta, Rosie Kline, Don Hiwiller, Joseph Regis, Jr., Madeline Steltzer, Margaret Miller, E.H. Howard, Jr., Sara Cicciarelli, June Fox, Dorothy Holly, Joanne Hosey, Mary Gilfillan, David Davis, Roger Crick, Sally Mortimer, Pat Mortimer, Tom Curry, Mark Rummel, Deanna Carmichael, Susie Crick, Jeanie Grant, and Shirley King.
In 2004, the Constitution of the Library was changed and adopted to include: Trustees would represent each of the seven municipalities that the library serves. Rimersburg Borough- 2, Sligo Borough- 1, East Brady Borough- 1, Madison Township- 1, Toby Township- 1, and Piney Township- 1. Because
In 1969 the Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library joined the state wide system of public libraries. The library is part of the
A big change came to the library beginning in 1999, when Joanne Hosey was library director and the Board of Trustees- Don Hiwiller, Roger Crick, Sally Mortimer, Dorothy Holly, and Pat Mortimer- were asked by the Eccles Foundation if there was a project the library would like to pursue because the Foundation had extra money to give away. After much discussion, the library director and Board of Trustees decided to remodel and expand the library. The reason for the needed expansion of 2,500 square feet and remodeling was due to the addition of computers to the library creating an overcrowded library and no handicapped accessibility to the restrooms, community room and genealogy room. The expansion would permit the library to have all the services on the first floor of the library. The Board then acquired the services of Evans, Strickland & Best Architects in Cranberry.
With the architect plans prepared the Eccles Foundation granted the library $265,000 over three years to complete this project. The library would still need more money to make this dream a reality. As the money arrived, the board invested the three installments with INVEST in
The Keystone Grant required a library building consultant to review the plans and to verify that the arrangements, space and needs would meet all required state specifications and still provide room for growth. The library hired Albert Kamper from Carnegie Library in
In 2001, Informational Meetings at the library were held to create awareness, enthusiasm, and interest throughout the townships, boroughs, school and public sectors. We were awarded a grant from Pennsylvania Citizens for Better Libraries to conduct the Informational Meetings. We started a series of meetings to write a long range plan for the library involving citizens from all the municipalities. A concerted effort to raise more local support began with the staff holding fundraisers and building “Our Commemorative Wall”, which would provide local support for many years. The bricks for the Commemorative Wall would be a donation of $100 each and would have 13 spaces on each of three lines to honor or memorialize a person, class or organization. A bulk mailing was sent out to every boxholder in Rimersburg,
Two large monetary donations were given to the library in 2001 also. Clayton Rhodes, a former resident and retired librarian and minister, gave $10,000 in memory of his parents, Agnes and Cecil Rhodes. Part of the money was to be used to install a display case in the library. Don and Mary Hiwiller donated $25,000 to be used toward the completion of the genealogy room, which the Board of Trustees named, “The Hiwiller Heritage Room”. With the funds acquired through fundraising and donations and the interest from the investment of the Eccles Foundation money and many letters of support from the public and municipalities, the library reapplied for the Keystone Grant in 2001. The news arrived in the late fall of 2001 that the library’s Keystone Grant was approved. We were on our way and the work had just begun.
The architects had to finalize the plans to get approval from the State Library to move forward. Bids were let and awarded to: General Contractor- Clark Construction Company of
In the summer of 2002, we relocated the library to two buildings in the
Construction was to begin
During this span of time, 1999-2003, there were many decisions made, many meetings to attend, many high points, some low points, many tired bodies and weary minds, but the project was completed. The money was well spent. The plans were well developed and followed through. Our library community of Rimersburg, Sligo, and East Brady Boroughs; Madison, Toby, Piney and Brady Townships have received a modern new library that is accessible and welcoming for all the citizens and fully equipped for the 21st century by providing computer technology with the Internet, along with books, periodicals, audio-visual materials and programming for children through adults.
In 1968 the land, building and equipment were valued at $141,075. In 2005 the new addition, renovation and contents of the library building were valued at $1,872,361 for cost of a new reproduction of the library.