The Ephrata Public Library is pleased to announce it has received an $80,000 grant from the Dart Foundation to be paid in three annual installments for the continued renovation of the Exploratorium Community Commons building, located just south of the Library on South Reading Road. The Exploratorium contains almost 10,000 square feet of measurable value to the community. It accommodates library program expansion and increases community meeting space.
Before the Library bought the building, it contained an auto shop, an ice cream parlor, and low-income housing. The Library purchased the building in 2002 for the purpose of generating revenue through rental income. It was leased to Curves Fitness until 2014. Due to the size and the scope of the work the building needed in order to generate further income, the Library planned a five-phase renovation.
The first phase of the renovation was completed in September 2016. The street-facing section of the building now includes a meeting room, a catering kitchen, and storage. Space is regularly utilized by the United Way of Lancaster County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. In 2018, VITA completed 2,130 tax returns at no cost to local residents, saving them nearly $600,000 in tax preparation fees. Outside of the tax season, the Literacy Council of Lancaster-Lebanon uses the same space for English as a Second Language instruction for adult learners, who develop the capacity to increase their annual income by $10,000 for every 100 hours of instruction they complete.
Phase II of the renovation was completed in May 2018, providing offices, restrooms, and a laboratory for a social services partnership. Phase III is scheduled for completion by October 2018 and will convert an existing garage bay into mixed-use meeting space for programs and events.
Future phases may convert the second floor of the Exploratorium into a demo kitchen, a podcasting studio, quiet study rooms, and networking spaces for public and private use. A final phase would include decorative enhancements to the front.
About the Ephrata Public Library:
The Ephrata Public Library is a physical and virtual community center. Its mission is to provide resources and to promote opportunities for everyone seeking to improve, change, enrich, and enjoy their lives. The library offers free access to information reflecting differing viewpoints in order to support an open and democratic society.
About the Dart Foundation:
The Dart Foundation is a private family foundation established by Dart Container Corporation founder William A. Dart and his wife Claire T. Dart. The Foundation supports projects that enhance education, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math, and those that improve the quality of life in specific communities.