Holy Family University and its tenacious president, Sister Francesca Onley, were counting on a $1.3 million state redevelopment assistance capital grant to make major structural upgrades to the library.
At the start of the year, as Gov. Tom Corbett was coming into office, there were rumors that such grants were going to be eliminated as the state faced a budget crunch.
State Sen. Mike Stack (D-5th dist.) called Corbett to discuss the issue.
“You’re going to be the one to tell Sister Francesca,” Stack said he told the governor. “He backed right off.”
The lawmaker and university president recently joined others at the library to get a look at the initial improvements.
In all, the library will benefit from $2.6 million, which includes matching dollars from the university.
Some $600,000 was spent replacing the library windows. The rest of the money will go toward electrical, lighting and a costly new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
“This is a wonderful project,” Sister Francesca said during a Nov. 21 news conference.
During the news conference, students worked quietly on computers and used a not-so-quiet printer.
Junior history and political science major Matthew Reese described libraries as the foundations of all universities and expressed his thanks for the funding on behalf of all Holy Family students.
Stephen Medvec, associate professor of political science, explained that the faculty makes great use of the library for research.
Librarian Lori Schwabenbauer offered thanks to a group of people usually excluded during these kinds of check presentations — Pennsylvania taxpayers — and said the work is making the library an even more appealing place.
“We can take pride in our building,” she said.
The library was built in 1967, and project supervising engineer Pete Tantala said structures are usually due for an overhaul within 50 years.
The work was done by Holmesburg-based Eureka Metal & Glass Services Inc. Terry Webb, president of the company, explained that installers had to deal with heavy rains in August.
Schwabenbauer thanked the Eureka employees for tiptoeing around the building, causing as little disruption as possible at the three-story, 42,000-square-foot library. The library houses more than 140,000 items, including more than 5,000 DVDs and videos, along with university archives.
“This library is beautiful,” Stack said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org