Library books get nicer nooks

“It’s fabulous.” That’s the conclusion library Director Chistine Dickerson settled on Tuesday after
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Categories: Schenectady County

“It’s fabulous.”

That’s the conclusion library Director Chistine Dickerson settled on Tuesday after working through a glowing description of The Community Library’s first week in its newly renovated building.

“We spent all last week greeting patrons of the library, as well as newcomers. Everyone who came in, their jaw would drop,” Dickerson said.

After a yearlong $1.9 million renovation transformed the 124-year-old brick building at 110 Union St., the library reopened its headquarters Feb. 5 with little fanfare.

“We weren’t sure [about opening day] until the last minute,” Dickerson said.

The first thing people familiar with the old single-floor main library area are likely to notice is the bright, open view to the new second-floor balcony. The original sweeping staircase greets people at the library entrance. Unlike before, there’s even an elevator serving all three floors.

“The library now looks like the elegant lady that it no doubt looked like in its early days,” Dickerson said.

“Anything that was done to it was done to fit in with the personality and style of the building,” she said. “The historical sense of the building has been retained.”

Searching for a book on the second floor Tuesday was Dorothy Lory, 93, who remembered the building from when it housed the elementary and high school she graduated from in 1932.

The building was taken over by the library in 1936, but some elementary classes continued to the early 1960s.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Lory said.

The renovation was largely financed through a $1.3 million bond issue approved by library district voters in December 2005. Construction bids later came in about $1.5 million according to Harriet Berard, library board treasurer.

“By the time we get everything inside done … it’ll be very close to $2 million,” she said. Additional money came from a $250,000 bequeath last summer, plus about $290,000 from various donors and fundraising events, said Berard, who taught kindergarten there in 1958.

Over the past few weeks, about 24,000 books and materials in the collection were hauled back from temporary quarters set up last February in a former car dealership on Barnerville Road about 11⁄2 miles away.

Although officials had hoped to reopen last fall, delays delivering new furniture and other last-minute building approvals pushed the date back a few months.

A new basement area for community programs or discussion groups likely won’t be ready until the spring, Dickerson said. The main and second-floor areas, however, are already filled with the books, computers and other items attracting users back.

“It truly was a party all last week,” Dickerson said.

The number of public-use computers has doubled to 22 since last year. A wireless system also allows people to access the Internet with their own properly equipped laptops.

A separate, pine-paneled children’s room on the first floor is a new feature.

Three-year-old Abi Quinn was engrossed in an animated Dr. Seuss story Tuesday as she listened through a headset and used the computer’s colorful keyboard.

“It’s more child friendly, with a separate area,” said her mother, Christy Quinn. “We’re thrilled.”

The second floor includes a sitting area and study/tutoring and meeting rooms. The fiction, local history and genealogy collections are also upstairs.

The formerly damp and dingy basement storage area, where the old library’s single public toilet was located, is being made over for programs, discussions or arts and crafts. A kitchenette will also be available.

Restrooms are now available on all three floors.

Hours are unchanged. The library is open 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. It’s closed Sundays and Mondays.

The 1884 building was formerly the Union Street School. Under various names, a public library has been in parts of the building off and on since approximately 1920.

Since 1999, the Community Library has been a public school district library that is able to raise funds through a separate tax levy within the boundaries of the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District.

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