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Town Gearing Up For Grand Opening Of New Mohr Library

The April 9 ceremony is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

Nearly 50 years to the day since the original opened, the town is set to celebrate the grand opening of a new facility on April 9, just a few yards behind the brick structure that faces Atwood Avenue.

Some 10 years in the planning, the new Mohr Library remained just a plan until the last 16 months or so; the official groundbreaking for the new building was held on Dec. 10, 2009, about a year after local voters approved a $3 million bond to fund its construction.

On April 4, Mayor Joseph M. Polisena hosted a press conference at Town Hall to formally invite the public to Saturday's event.

"This is their library, and we'd like them to see it," said Polisena, who was joined by Library Director Jon Anderson and Board of Trustees Chairwoman Lisa Filippelli at the announcement.

The 1 p.m. event is rain or shine, the mayor explained — an 80-foot-by-40-foot tent will be set up in the new library's parking lot for the celebration.

As for parking, visitors will be able to use the Johnston High School lot, where a police officer will assist in helping them cross Atwood Avenue; the back parking lot of N.A. Ferri Middle School; and Johnston Memorial Park.

Polisena said a speaking program is planned, with a keynote address by Susan Hildreth, the national Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and speeches by local and state officials.

The Johnston High School Band & Chorus is also scheduled to perform. Following the speaking program and ceremonial ribbon-cutting, two dedications are planned: the Young Adult Room to Andrew Greene, and active youth patron of the library before he passed away in 2007 at the age of 13; and a room downstairs to Michael Fargnoli, the town electrician and longtime advocate for children's programs who died following an accident in the DPW garage in December.

After the ceremonies, the library will remain open for normal operations.

Anderson said the additional space — nearly a tripling of the original library's 4,200 square feet, to 12,000 square feet — will provide "more user space and room to expand, if we should need it."

In the original library, activities often hampered the staffs ability to help patrons, Anderson explained, whereas in the new building, "when we have programs, they won't get in the way of regular library use."

Filippelli, a teacher at Thornton Elementary School (and recent Teacher of the Year winner), explained her experience on the Board of Trustees over the past three years.

"I lacked experience, but the other Trustees really worked together, and together we were able to get out there and campaign for the new library," she recalled. When voters approved the bond item, she added, "I was very excited — I knew the community really wanted the new library."

Since April 2009, the library staff has maintained a blog that follows the progress of the new project, and just this week, the library website front page was changed to show the new building.

Beginning tomorrow at 10 a.m., Watch JohnstonPatch for "sneak peeks" of the new library's interior.

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