New Library Branch Planned, With Books, Cars And People In Mind The Old Levittown Branch Is Cramped, Inside And Out. A New Building Is Planned On The Thiokol Site.

Posted: August 18, 1994

BRISTOL TOWNSHIP — Pamela Gay has been coming to the county-run library in Levittown for nearly a decade and, for the most part, she says, she thinks it's a wonderful, if somewhat exasperating, institution.

It's a refuge for her eldest child, Ashley, 9, who seeks the library's solitude to complete her homework, and a source of entertainment for her youngest, Keith, 3, who listens sometimes to stories read by library staffers.

But that's not to say everything is perfect in storybook land, Gay said.

Along with a perennial shortage of chairs, tables and shelf space, in the winter the library's roof sprang a leak, forcing library staffers to erect umbrellas over the card-catalogue computers. Several dozen books were destroyed in the deluge.

And, Gay said, no single inadequacy in the library irritates her more than the parking lot, where a vacant slot for her Suburban can be as difficult to find as the latest best-selling John Grisham novel.

"Sometimes I'll pull into the lot and just wait behind the dumpster for somebody to pull out," Gay said Monday. "The parking stinks, and that

entrance is an accident waiting to happen."

After five years of discussion, relief is on the way for Gay and the 95,000 residents of Bristol Township, Tullytown Borough and a portion of Falls Township within the service territory of the Levittown branch of the Bucks County Free Library.

The Bucks County commissioners, deciding that further repairs would be a waste of tax dollars, have agreed to spend $2.2 million to build a new library on the old Thiokol property in Bristol Township.

The property, located near New Falls and Woodbourne Roads, is emerging as a center for county services in Lower Bucks.

County Administrator David Steinbach said Tuesday that county engineers still must identify a parcel on the property for the library. Steinbach said he expected this to be done soon.

Construction of the new library is scheduled to begin in the fall and will be financed through a bond issue approved by the commissioners. A groundbreaking is slated for Sept. 1, and completion is expected by October 1995.

The new library will correct several shortcomings. The building will be 20,000 square feet, or more than double the size of the existing library, which is 9,000 square feet.

The new library also will contain a feature that the existing library lacks: access for people with handicaps. The existing library, which was built in 1958 and expanded in 1966, is a three-story building with stairs leading to each floor, including the entrance. Handicapped residents must travel to Bensalem or Lower Makefield for access to a county library.

Marilyn Moody, executive director of the Bucks County Free Library, said that the existing library is "way too small" for the number of people it is expected to serve and that the new library is long overdue.

Moody said the existing library provides space for less than one book per resident in its service territory, and the state library standard calls for 1.5 books per resident.

She said the new library would have 150 parking places, compared with the existing 60 spaces. There will be 255 seats inside the library for readers, compared with the existing 56 seats.

"I think there will be less frustration," she said.

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