Library archive to undergo renovation


Callie Burgan, News Editor

A second-floor archives room in Owen Library is to be converted into the Alumni Reading Room in spring 2020.

The archives room, also known as The Special Collections room, is located in Owen Library room 202.

The room contains wooden boxes on each side in which one can find photographs, yearbooks and other memorabilia commemorating Pitt-Johnstown’s past.

Development Director Tammy Barbin, along with Alumni Association co-presidents Matt Sernell and John Wozniak, inquired about a space in the library where they could display alumni-related materials.

Owen Library Director Peter Egler said he brought up the room renovation idea.

“Upstairs we currently have three reading rooms, including the archives room.

“We had another empty storage room with a nice amount of space, and we started to think we could use it for another purpose.

“The idea we came up is that we could move the archive material from the reading room where it currently is, which is the Special Collections room, into the empty room.

“Where the archive material currently is, we don’t have official archival shelving or storage space. We have boxes, but not shelving to make it more accessible.

“Our original plan was to revert the archives room back to a typical reading room, like the other two.

“However, Tammy Barbin happened to stop by the library one day with two members of the Alumni Association and said they would be interested in having a space in the library to display some alumni related material.

“They wanted to display profiles and various collected items during time spent at Pitt-Johnstown and also information about what alumni have going on today.

“This was around the same time we were working on the archives project.

“I told them that we are in the process of reopening one of our reading rooms upstairs, and so we would need to reformat that room if they were interested in working with it.

“We went upstairs and looked at it, and they were very happy and saw a lot of possibilities with the room.

“One of the nice things about that room are the wooden cabinets on both sides.

“They aren’t necessarily useful for archival purposes because archival boxes don’t fit in them, but they are perfect for displaying material, which is what Alumni Association members are looking to do.

“Tammy was very interested in the project, so we are working with her to get the room ready to be a reading room again instead of an archives room.

“We’re putting time and effort into remaking it into a reading room.

“With Tammy’s help, we will be using the wooden cabinets and hanging things on the wall related to Pitt-Johnstown alumni.

Egler said The Alumni Reading Room is targeted for student use.

“The Alumni Association members may have small meetings in there at times, in which the room would be reserved, but that would be once a semester for an hour or so.

“I made it clear, and Tammy agreed, that the main purpose of the room will be a reading room for students.

“Our other two reading rooms are very popular, which is one of the reasons why we wanted to reactivate the third one.

“They’re the best place in the library to do group work. They have doors that close and allow you to talk to your group without disturbing others in the library.

“Right now, the next step for us is to move the archive material out, which we will do within the next week or so.

“Working with Tammy, we then will start to plan what the room will look like moving forward.

“Tammy and the Alumni Association members have a lot of ideas as to what their plans are for the room.” Egler said.

Sernell said Alumni Association members are aiming to build a location where alumni can relive their memories as Pitt-Johnstown students.

“From pictures, to documents and items, we are working to build this space that will honor both the alumni of our University and inspire current and future students toward greatness.

“It is exciting to be working to build a location where our alumni can relive their memories and see the other great accomplishments of their fellow alumni.

“Our alumni are not just a key part of the history of Pitt-Johnstown, but also have impacted our city, our region and our world.” Sernell said.

Barbin said further details are to be released next month, as the renovation project is still in the concept phase.