About Us

The mission of the California Area Public Library is to provide an atmosphere where diversity and the open exchange of ideas is encouraged in an effort to foster lifelong learning, strengthening the community through the creation of an educated citizenry via open access to culture, advanced intellectual experiences and information resources. California Area Public Library is a member of the Washington County Library System. CPL is the Information Station for the communities that comprise the California Area School District: Allenport, California, Coal Center, Brownsville Annex, Long Branch, Elco, Roscoe, and West Pike Run Township.

The California Area Public Library works to encourage a community in which the library helps to ensure that:

  • The community’s inquiries are accomplished by consulting proper and authoritative resources.
  • The community embraces diversity.
  • California Area's children will develop the skills necessary for academic and lifelong success, while also developing a sense of accomplishment and a love for reading and learning.
  • Every citizen is provided the opportunity to engage in a life that is culturally and intellectually fulfilling.
  • Monthly Hoagie Fundraiser

    A handy meal

  • Delivered the first Thursday of most every month, generously sized Country Fresh hoagies provide a filling meal to eat hot or cold. Orders are taken through the last Friday of the month before delivery. (In other words, the last Friday of March for April delivery.) Proceeds benefit the library, of course. Hoagies cost just $6 and come in five varieties: American, Italian, Turkey & Swiss, Roast Beef or Pizza (which freezes well). To order, call the library at 724-928-2907, or ask a board member. Orders may be picked up at the library by mid-day.

    Programs

    Storytime

  • This year's Pennsylvania Summer Reading Club theme is Fizz, Boom, Read. Planning for 2014 is in the early stages, but sessions will be held in June and July. Please call the library to register in advance.
  • Storytime craft supplies are provided by our partner, the California Borough Recreation Authority. (For the record: storytime usually begins at 11:00 on Saturdays and are held once a month.) The Library seeks additional storytime volunteers to help increase the number and variety of story time sessions we present each month.
  • <i>Stripes of All Types</i> by Susan Stockdale is the current PA One Book, Every Young Child selection. Pick up a free activity guide during you next vist to Your Information Station (California Public Library).
  • Start an Activity

  • We have a new book club for adults (we admit, current membership marks us as a ladies club--but we welcome gentlemen). In April 2014 we're reading </i>.Batter Off Dead: A Pennsylvania-Dutch Mystery</i> by Tamar Myers.
  • If you are interested in creating a Card Club, a Book Club, a Game Night, a Garden Party or something else novel, we'd like to help. Call to setup an appointment so we can discuss the venture.
  • 2014 Off the Shelf

  • A district fundraiser to support operating costs for the One Card Network library access system.
  • 2014 Theme: Food
  • We'd love to have you dine at our table. California is dceorating the theme of the children's book <i>Pickles to Pittsburgh</i>, a <i>Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs</i> companion story by Judi Barrett and Ronald Barrett. Each place setting costs $75. Please join us this fall at the Hilton Garden Inn, Southpointe, for a seventh year of fun. Ask us for details. We will note that even those who dread such events report they have a grand time. The event (which features a table decorating contest, auctions, a guest speaker, live music, a cash bar, good food and lots of fun) is sponsored by the Washington, Pa. law firm of Peacock, Keller.
  • History

    The following text is a paraphrasing of an essay by the late Elsie Channing titled “Brief History."

    In 1935, forty Federation Club women decided to justify their existence as a civic group by organizing a public library. They rented an empty storeroom in the Parinello building on Third Street, fixed it up, found books, and at 2:00 on the last Saturday of May, opened the doors of California Public Library.

    Volunteers manned the library from two to four on Saturdays and from seven to nine on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Bake sales, rummage sales, card parties, dances, tag days and door-to-door canvases helped to bring donations to the enterprise.

    Ten years later, the library collection was moved down the street to the King building, but because its roof leaked and the furnace was broken, volunteers moved the books to a temporary home on the second floor of the yellow brick borough building (now a parking lot).

    On May 24, 1958, California Public Library opened at its current site—the former Pennsylvania Railroad station, rented from the company for just $10 per month.

    But in June 1965, the Friday Evening Club (an incarnation of the Federation Club) published an open letter explaining that it could no longer support the library. In November, the community rejected a 1-1/2 mil tax referendum; on June 19, 1965, the library closed. Attempts to re-open the library floundered until June 15, 1975. A coalition of local citizens organized as Friends of the Library and accepted responsibility for helping to raise funds. Mary Hart was its president. Friends sponsored many community programs, including concerts, adult mini-courses, and even an amateur theatrical group directed by the late Robert Grimes and called The BareBones Players. The late June Mulé accepted the post of first Board of Trustees president.

    On July 18, 1979, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission notified California Mayor Peter J. Daley that the historic building had earned a place on the National Register. Borough workmen joined volunteers to restore what is now the Children’s community Room, thus increasing usable space.

    The next year, largely because of the unceasing efforts of Wyona Coleman, the Washington County Commissioners voted to establish the Washington County Library System. California Public Library promptly joined the fourteen-library coalition, thereby enabling the library staff to better serve the local citizenry through resource sharing.

    In June 2013, the holdings of California and its sixteen sister libraries (including several in Greene and Fayette counties) became searchable online through a union catalogue powered by Polaris. The funding for this project was supported by the proceeds from six years of "Off the Shelf", an annual fundraising dinner hosted by the Washington, Pa. law firm of Peacock, Keller. Patrons began to use the new Waggin library card, featuring a retriever dog riding a wagon. Inspiration for the new logo came from the new name for our expanded library community: Washington and Greene Greater Information Network.

    Our Caboose

    Our caboose is retired Norfolk and Western #562851. It was built for the Wabash Rail Road by International Railway Car Company of Kenton, Ohio in October 1955; its original number was 2651. In 1988, Norfolk Southern donated the caboose to The California Area Public Library, located in the former Pennsylvania Railroad Station at 100 Wood Street, California PA 15419. Officals cautioned that rail traffic could be stopped no longer than one hour while the car was relocated to the property. Anthony Crane Co. used a crane to lift and manueuver the 48,300-lb. car from the tracks to a set of rails installed on the Library's side yard. A donation from the Levi family in memory of their son Timothy, along with funds raised by the Library's Friend's group, paid for renovations. The caboose project was chaired by Ellen Hasbrouck (who originated the idea) and Librarian/Director Wyona Coleman. Interior renovations were carried out mostly by Joe Horvath.

    WHAT IS A CABOOSE GOOD FOR?

    Wooden cabooses were first adapted in the 1830s to house and carry brakemen and flagmen. Brakemen manually stopped the trains by climbing to the roof of each car and turning the brakewheels. Eventually, the caboose became an office for the conductor and also provided a place for the crew to sleep, cook and bathe. Despite derogatory nicknames such as crummy, doghouse, bone-breaker and snake wagon, the caboose provided a home away from home. Similar to the red schoolhouse and the red barn, the red caboose became an American icon and was often sighted trailing behind trains en route to their destination. Despite their charms, cabooses were phased out beginning in the mid-1960s as advances in technology provided more practical and feasible methods to monitor the train.

    Friends of California Area Public Library thought the caboose would create a charming space to conduct children's programs and to hold meetings of small community groups. From about 1994 to 1999 Claudia Bennett led a preschool story hour in the caboose every Thursday morning, starting at 10:30. These days, the caboose stores the Library's collection of used books for sale (as well as anything that won't fit in the Library's tiny storage closet).

    Of course, #562851* is a metal caboose. When it arrived in California, the caboose was covered with grease and grime accumulated from years of hard work on the tracks. Its body still carries the scars left when windows and heating units were removed during renovations. The first task of caring for the caboose fell to a group of Friends volunteers who powerwashed the exterior and then painted #562851 solid red (as it had arrived) with a black cupola and yellow safety rails. In the autumn of 2013 a group of spry college-age volunteers organized by an AmeriCorps project supervisor restored the caboose to its orignial red and white color scheme; a grant from Home Depot's Fresh Paint Days project, in addition to private donations, paid for the new look.

    *We assure you, it is and always has been #562851 which sits outside the California Area Public Library--don't believe everything caboose afficiandos post on the internet!