Gannon University and the Erie County Public Library are in the first stages of plans to install the new Great Lakes Research and Education Center.

In a couple of years, people of all ages will be able to take advantage of a new hands on way to learn and support research of Lake Erie’s water quality.

The Erie County Library will soon be welcoming Gannon University’s Great Lakes Research and Education Center.

The interpretive center is apart of Gannon’s $24 million, six-phase initiative called ‘Project NePTWNE.’

According to the university, the project takes an inclusive and holistic approach to addressing water quality, climate change, economic development and quality of life.

“It’s going to provide space for our faculty to us our envionaut which is our 48-foot research vessel located here on Lake Erie,” said Dr. Sarah Ewing, provost & vice president for student experience at Gannon University. “And the provide information to the community about what we are doing, why we are doing it and help engage them in that process.”

3,280 square feet on the east side of the library will be renovated to include a laboratory, exhibits, and a ‘NOAA Science on a Sphere’ classroom free of charge to the public.

The current internet lab in this location will be moved upstairs and the back of house staff space will be opened to visitors.

“We really want it to be a common space that is accessible and educational for people of ages,” Dr. Ewing said.

The executive director of the library said contrary to concerns about losing programs, this agreement will add experiences for library visitors.

“There’s no programming that’s going to be cut from any department here at the library,” said Karen Pierce, executive director of the Erie County Public Library.

Pierce said the library will soon be apart of a new experience for children.

“How exciting it would be to be a first grader or fourth grader and come in a see the Brig Niagara at the Maritime Museum then come to library and see a display about shipwrecks and then be able to check out a book about shipwrecks,” Pierce went on to say.

Before starting any work in early 2024, the university will share and discuss the design with public.

Current plans are to have the lab completed sometime late next year.