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Downtown Parking Crunch has Schlow Library Defending its Spaces

by on June 20, 2013 11:10 AM

Searching for a place to park downtown? Don't go in the Schlow Library lot unless you plan on actually visiting the library. Seriously, they'll tow your car. 

Otherwise, there's a friendly, yellow-vest clad library employee waiting to wave hello and welcome you to Schlow.

It's called the "Parking Greeters Initiative," and Pat Colby, Circulation Manager at the library at 211 S. Allen St., says library employees will be saying hello and directing drivers at the parking lot's entrance through June and July, which are the busiest months.

If you park and then leave the library for more than 15 minutes, you'll need to park somewhere else. Otherwise, those using the library are free to park for free so long as they're in the building.

"It's a parking monitoring system that works at the moment. We decided it would be a good idea to come out here, greet people, make sure they're using the library when they're parking here and sort of explaining the expectations we have for people who are parking here," Colby says. "We have a very limited number of spots for our patrons and we want to make sure they're being used by our patrons only."

"We actually have had to tow a couple of people," Colby says. "Even though we explained it to them, still insisted trying to get away with it. Most people are legitimate parkers and that's good for us to see," Colby says.

Parking in downtown State College has been a concern for some time now. The library's parking patrol is unrelated to parking issues that State College Borough Council is working to fix.

On Monday, council members voted to approve changes to the downtown parking plan,. starting in August you"ll have to feed them meter from 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Parking in garages will be free for the first half hour, and then it increases to $1 an hour after that.

The borough says parking in the evening hours is a significant problem. People who work downtown and students heading onto campus reportedly take up most of the spaces and leave their cars for hours at a time. That makes it harder for shoppers and diners to find a spot. Council members hope their plan to keep the meters running until 10:00 p.m. will make more spaces available.

At least 2,000 people are signed up for the library's summer reading program, which is comprised of mostly children and their families. So it's easy to see why parking is at a premium. Library employees direct traffic from 9 a.m. through about 3 p.m., when all of the children's programs end for the day. 

Terri Angeletti, from Boalsburg, says she likes the greeters' efforts to make her trip to the library easier.

"I like that she told me where there weren't any spaces left so I didn't have to drive around, looking for one. It's a good idea," Angeletti says, books in tow.

Many people end up asking questions about the library, too, when they stop to talk to the greeter on the corner. Colby says it's been a lot of fun talking to everyone who's coming to and going from the library. 

"A family came in and the little girl in the backseat was very, very curious about all the prizes we had for the summer reading program," she says.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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