Business works with public and private school libraries
Opening the Book is a unique local business creating furniture and design work for libraries.
In Williamsport can be found the company’s North American headquarters at Water Tower Square, 1000 Commerce Park Drive.
“We service accounts all across the U.S. and Canada,” Jolie Conahan, director of sales and marketing, said.
Conahan said the company operates a manufacturing facility in Muskegon, Michigan, while all design work is done in Williamsport.
The company works with both public and school libraries.
“We probably do more schools than anything,” Conahan said.
The design work and furniture for elementary age children is often done in a way that integrates play with reading. It’s the needs of that age group, she said, that make up much of the company’s work.
Among its projects was the design work for the Milton School District Library.
“We would like to do more local jobs,” Conahan said.
Trained dealer representatives work with the company to find jobs.
In addition to Conahan, the small Williamsport staff is comprised of Megan Fink, lead library designer; Janell Cipriani, marketing specialist; and Miranda Leathers, customer support specialist.
Conahan said there exist many education supply companies.
“The difference with us is our creative outlet,” she said. “We aren’t a mass supplier. Every job is custom-designed to space and needs.”
Cipriani said she gets a joy out of knowing people are happy with the way they help transform library spaces.
“That’s why I like the interaction,” she said.
Leathers said, “The most exciting thing so far for me is when a customer gets her dream library.”
Conahan said she likes that their designs for elementary school libraries help children more easily find books.
“It’s that joy in entering a new space and seeing new things,” she added.
Fink said the there is always a new set of challenges in coming up with plans for a library.
To get the word out about its services, the company does a lot of digital marketing.
“At some point we will probably turn this into a showroom,” Conahan said, while standing in the Williamsport offices.
At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, the staff worked remotely from their homes.
“It was challenging,” Conahan said. “But we were probably more equipped to deal with it than other companies. With headquarters in the United Kingdom it wasn’t a big hurdle for us.”