Olean library aquarium is ‘cool’ new feature

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by Kate Day Sager, courtesy of Olean Times Herald

Those who want to give their eyes a rest from printed material in books, or the screens of a computer, can gaze upon the soft, blue glow of a new aquarium at the Olean Public Library (PA) on North Second Street.

Sheryl Soborowski, outreach librarian, said aquariums have been a part of the library the past 20 to 25 years, with the most recent ones in need of replacement.  “It’s a brand new fish tank that Olean Coral Reef just purchased and gave it to us for cost,” Soborowski said of the North Union Street business.

“They donated their time to set it up and helped us get rid of our old fish tanks that were breaking down, and rehomed some of our larger fish. But a few that are in (the new tank) are some of our original fish.”

Soborowski said the previous tanks were located in different places around the library and were taken care of by the library’s former arts coordinator, the late Robert Taylor.  “He used to have his turtles in one of the aquariums,” she said of Taylor. “There are lots of adults who come into the library and reminisce about loving the turtles through their childhood.”

She said a number of families also stopped by Saturday to see the aquarium during Take Your Child to the Library day at the facility.  “The fish tank was a huge draw,” she remarked.

Soborowski said longtime library volunteer, Margie Hall, helps care for the fish by cleaning and providing upkeep for the equipment in the tank regularly. She said the staff feeds the fish daily.

“She’s doing us a great service doing that,” Soborowski added.

Hall said she is able to add some expertise to the cleaning project as she had worked at Westons Pet Shop for 18 years. She also had helped clean the former library aquariums in the past after Taylor was unable to do the chore.  “I’ll clean it every couple of weeks,” Hall said of the new tank. “It’s fun and the kids like the fish.”

Hall said the fish in the tank include a variety of tetras including neon tetras, painted tetras and zebra tetras, as well as a catfish on the bottom of the tank. She also has a tank in her own home containing three turtles and huge pleco which eats the algae.

A child at the library, Ethan Maybee, is a new resident in the community and said he enjoyed the facility and the aquarium.  “I think it’s pretty cool,” Ethan said after checking out the different fish in the aquarium.