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Morgantown Library wins pro-bono design services, aims to develop ‘a house for the community’

By Kaitlyn Eichelberger

Clinton District Library, a branch of Morgantown’s library system, is outgrowing its Grafton Road location. It needs a new home to become a place for community members to gather.

And, it’s getting one.

Last month, the Mills Group architectural firm awarded pro-bono conceptual design services to the projects of three West Virginia public entities and nonprofits. Here in Mountaineer Country, the Mills Group will work with the Morgantown Public Library System (MPLS) to develop plans for a new Clinton District Branch Library.

The winner from the Northern Panhandle is the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston for the Wheeling Catholic Central High School’s gymnasium addition. The winner from the Eastern Panhandle is Jefferson County Community Ministries (JCCM) for the design of a new Community Service Center in Ranson.

The Mills Group began offering this award in 2020 to celebrate its 15-year anniversary and to thank its clients, stakeholders and the community. The group aims to enhance the communities it serves.

The Morgantown Metropolitan Theatre, the Monongalia County Courthouse Plaza and the Morgantown Market Place are just a few notable projects by the Mills Group.

The MPLS was hand-selected from 22 applicants based on the project’s benefit to the community.

“Once completed, the Clinton District Branch Library will create a space that is welcoming, inclusive and encourages exploration and discovery through books, shared space and experiences,” said Mills Group Managing Principal Michael Mills. It will also set a new standard for library facilities in Monongalia County. 

When the MPLS was selected, MPLS Director Sarah Palfrey said the Clinton District Library was a clear choice. The ever-growing community of Grafton Road has begun to exceed the library’s size. With the new location, the MPLS will be able to offer more resources and community events.

Throughout the design process, the MPLS hopes to receive suggestions from library patrons during community meetings.

“We would love to hear community input about what the library should look like and contain,” said Palfrey. 

The vision for the new building is a larger space close to the current library’s location. The main goal, though, is to create a gathering space for the community.

“It’s easy to minimize the importance of libraries because of the internet,” said Palfrey. “But there is still a great need, not just for print materials, but a place for the community to gather, be together and learn new things.”

“It’s like building a house for the community.”

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