WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — More than four million dollars in funding was awarded for the construction and rehabilitation of public libraries across the state.

Tucked away on South Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre, the Osterhout Free Library has held decades of historical literacy since the late 19th century.

Offering thousands of books, CDs, and more, Director of Development Michelle Riley says the library is non-profit; keeping its doors open thanks to grants and the generosity of the community.

“It’s one of the last places that you can go in society where you’re not really expected to spend a dime when you’re there.”

The library is one of 21 across the Keystone State awarded more than $150,000 to restore its facility.

The grant is set to go toward a restoration project that’s been underway since 2007.

“This funding will help us complete that project with the final roofing repairs and some window repairs,” said Riley.

Ever since the pandemic, in-person visits to public libraries nationwide have plummeted and the accessibility of virtual reading tools has shifted the overall environment of learning.

Riley says libraries like Osterhout are essential, providing an experience to those looking to learn.

“There are studies that prove reading in print, reading (physical) text than off of the screen is better for early literacy and just for overall learning.”

As the library operates as a public staple for families who don’t have internet access at home, Riley is hopeful the restoration plans will allow them to stay open for another century.

“We just hope to still be here to support those educational goals, whether you are cyber schooling or doing homeschooling. We’re here for you to kind of supplement those educational initiatives that you’re taking for your family and hope to support that in any way that we can.”

The Osterhout Free Library has resumed its in-person children and adult programs.

For more details and ways you can donate to the non-profit, head to their Facebook page.