LAKEMORE  It has been a long time coming, but on Feb. 17 the ribbon was cut, and the Springfield-Lakemore Branch Library was officially opened.

About 200 villagers and township residents were on hand for the ribbon cutting and reception. The library is located in the Lakemore Plaza at 1500 Canton Road, Suite 360, between Tractor Supply and Akron General Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation.

David Jennings, director of the Akron Summit County Library, welcomed everyone to the opening reception.

"This has been such a long time coming," he said.

Jennings went on to explain that he and Springfield resident Karla Shackelford met for the first time to discuss the possibilities of a library on April 30, 2004.

"That was 14 years ago," he said, thanking those present for their support of the levy. "Without that additional funding, we couldn’t have done this."

The library shelves are loaded with approximately 17,000 items and there still is some room for more. Books, CDs, audio books, DVDs, magazines and more are neatly organized and ready for the residents to browse and choose what they want to read or listen to. The library also offers free Wi-Fi, 12 public computers, a meeting room, children’s toys and programs for all ages.

Springfield Local Schools Superintendent Chuck Sincere said he was very excited about the library.

"Our children can take advantage of this great facility," he said.

Ray Weber, president of the Akron Library Board of Trustees, said it was great to see such a crowd and the event.

"We are anticipating that this is just the beginning of the branch for Lakemore Springfield. We are anticipating a free standing building," he said.

Weber encouraged everyone to "use their library."

"I never imagined this was going to look as grand as it does," he said. "I think it will serve the community well. We appreciate your support."

The ribbon cutting took place with Springfield Trustee Dean Young, Lakemore Mayor Rick Justice, the library board members, Branch Manager Melani Fragge, Summit County Council District 8 Representative Paula Prentiss, Jennings, Weber and Karla Shackelford.

Young said the Springfield-Lakemore was somewhat unique in the fact that it had Friends of the Library group before it ever had a library. The group was formed in 2007 with the specific reason to lobby for a library for a community that needed it.

"We (Friends of the Library) are going to support the efforts of the library system. The ultimate goal is a standalone bricks and mortar building," he said.

The staff of the library was introduced and visitors roamed the building looking through books, CDs, using the computers, enjoying music provided by the Rubber City Ukulele Band and having a cookie or two. Paws, the library lion cub, was on hand to give high fives and hugs to the kids.

Paula Prentiss said it was a very exciting opening.

"The journey began many years ago with a survey for the wants of needs of this community," she said. "Believe it or not, the number one thing was a library."

Prentiss said It offers everybody of any age access to books, technology, resources and other information.

Lakemore Mayor Rick Justice spoke to the crowd thanking everyone and congratulations to Springfield and Lakemore. He said he had a chance to tour the library and the meeting room has historic items from Springfield and Lakemore.

"I think a library says a lot about your values, your character; it shows that you appreciate education and that you want to share information and that you are dedicated to lifelong learning," he said. 

"We knew there was a lot of excitement and all the folks being here today shows it," Jennings added. "It is a great day."