FOLLANSBEE - There is a room full of local history at the Brooke County Public Library's Follansbee branch, but chances are, you haven't seen it.
The room, an addition to the library constructed about 10 years ago, contains several display cases containing items of local interest, including photos of Follansbee Steel's old hot mill dating back to the early 20th century, class photos of Follansbee and St. Anthony high schools from the 1950s and '60s, and even the trophies from Follansbee High School's 1954 state championship football and 1956 state championship baseball seasons.
However, the displays have been closed to the public for several years, except by appointment.
According to Friends of the Library member Nina Meca, the branch's staff is not large enough to catalog all the items and keep an eye on the room to ensure patrons don't damage the memorabilia.
Members of the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce recently discussed ways members can lend a helping hand and open the room for all to enjoy.
Chamber President and former Mayor Tony Paesano believes accomplishing that would bring more patrons downtown, thus enhancing the business climate there.
"I think the library can be a part of that," said Paesano.
"We have tons of pictures and newspapers and things that we need to go through," she said. "Anything that you want to get rid of, we'll take it."
Paesano added that as a retired educator, he has access to past yearbooks and school newspapers that can add to the collection. As he looked over a display case containing old photos from Follansbee Steel, he recalled the story of his father coming to the area from Italy on a Sunday in 1914 and starting work at the mill the very next day.
"They were hard workers," Paesano said of his father's generation. "They had a good work ethic."
He added local youth would be well served by the opportunity to see their hometown as it was, in order to gain a sense of what it can be.
Paesano said chamber members plan to volunteer time to help catalog items and possibly to supervise the room so it can be opened to the public at least a couple of days per week.