Reading Public Library unveils a high-tech room at its Southeast branch

Oct. 14—Thanks to a generous gift and the kindness of local contractors, the Reading Public Library was able to open a high tech room at its Southeast branch.

Dozens celebrated the opening of the Dr. Jerome I. Marcus Meeting Commons Wednesday night at the library's 1426 Perkiomen Ave. branch.

The new room is a high-tech private meeting room that can accommodate up to eight people.

The room is outfitted with commercial grade technology, a ultra-high definition television, the ability to connect smart devices and a sound masking system.

The room was made possible by the largest individual gift the library has ever received, said Linda Klein Capozello, director of advancement and communications.

She would not disclose how much the room cost.

Over the summer the library's main branch unveiled three high-tech rooms that were built with donations from Marcus, Capozello said.

Thanks to the generosity of Marcus and contractors who did the work either in-kind or at a discounted rate, the library had funds left over to build a room at the Southeast branch.

"It was a very welcome surprise," Capozello said. "We know people value libraries and library services but the extent they extended their generosity was thrilling and it validated the work we are doing."

Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to rethink how they conduct business, it only made sense for the library to put in these high tech rooms, Capozello said.

"This room will provide our neighbors with vital space equipped to meet the needs of a society more and more connected through virtual communication," said Southeast branch manager Emily McNulty.

Social workers, school tutors and more and more business people have been using the libraries since the start of the pandemic, Capozello said.

"It's a way to look at the library as not just a collection of books but a community center that is a safe and welcoming space," she said. "Our branch libraries are neighborhood centers and the fact we could put this important resource in a neighborhood center was quite thrilling for us."