Not too long ago, in a place really not all that far away, the Bellefonte Garden Club was faced with something of a dilemma.
What do you get the library that has everything? Well, not everything, really, but a lot of books. Mostly books.
How about more books?
That’s the obvious answer and the one that Ann Sager and Wilda Stanfield gravitated toward before they had the opportunity to speak with Lisa Erickson, executive director of the Centre County Library and Historical Museum.
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I asked ‘what can we do to make the library more beautiful?’
The club had recently come into a tidy sum of money in the shape of a bequest from the late Lt. Col. Robert Barraclough and was looking to pay it forward — specifically in a manner that would benefit the community at large.
Short of driving around Bellefonte and tossing packs of green out the window like newspapers, putting a few more books on the shelf at the library seemed like a pretty good idea.
Instead, their would-be beneficiary responded with a dilemma of her own.
“I asked, ‘What can we do to make the library more beautiful?,’ ” Erickson said.
Fortunately for those who hate to be left hanging in suspense, the answer is now plain to see to anyone passing by the library’s berth on the corner of Howard and North Allegheny streets in downtown Bellefonte.
A mixture of brightly colored flowers and curved beds add some pop to an otherwise standard brick exterior.
Erickson wanted to add eye appeal for readers sitting by the windows inside.
“We wanted something low maintenance because we don’t have a lot of staff to take care of it,” Erickson said.
To assist with the design of the new outdoor space, Sager and Stanfield got in touch with Martin McGann, an associate professor of landscape contracting at Penn State.
Part of the Garden Club’s mission is to beautify Bellefonte and this certainly fits that.
McGann turned the project into a class assignment and way to give his students some much needed real world experience.
“We try to give the students projects that are based in reality,” McGann said.
Accommodating the building’s dual climates — one side is cloaked in shade, the other exposed to the sun — posed a challenge to the design team, who had to select the right plants for the right area.
The garden club paid to execute the students’ final plan. Sager thinks that the final product is something that could continue to evolve once they see how it responds to the changing seasons.
“Part of the garden club’s mission is to beautify Bellefonte, and this certainly fits that,” Sager said.