SCHENECTADY – Rearranged bookstacks, the addition of seating and a dedicated space for programming will welcome back visitors of the Woodlawn Branch Library on Monday.
The space has undergone renovations during the pandemic, as part of the county’s plan to keep revitalizing all libraries in the Schenectady County Public Library System.
The total cost of the renovations was more than $91,000, according to Erin Roberts, the director of communications for Schenectady County. The state Aid for Library Construction Program provided almost $60,500, Stewart’s Shops donated $1,000, the Mohawk Valley Library System gave $1,000 and the county has paid almost $28,800, but that could increase, Roberts said. The Friends of Schenectady County Public Library also contributed funds, Roberts said. However, she did not know how much they provided.
“Schenectady County has invested over $4.2 million in capital projects across our nine libraries because we know how important they are to the community,” said County Legislator Peggy King, chairwoman of the Committee on Education and Libraries, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning. “While the library has limited hours due to the pandemic, we are working to increase hours, programming and other resources that our families depend on.”
What exactly those resources will be is going to come from a community survey the library is asking people to fill out by July 16, said Library Director Karen Bradley.
“It may change a lot of things,” she said.
The survey includes questions like what libraries someone visits and how often, what people go to the library for and any suggestions people may have.
She said the library system is especially interested in understanding people’s digital needs since that was a big component of the pandemic and how people accessed information.
One area library officials were happy to see added to the brightly painted yellow space was a medium-size room just for programs the library runs.
It was at the top of the list for changes people wanted at the library, Bradley said.
Bradley said before the creation of the programming space, activities like the book club and cozy crafters took place in the children’s area.
She said when there were a lot of people in the library “it was a little like mayhem.”
The new room provides a more peaceful environment.
Hughes said the library underwent the renovations when libraries were shut down for months due to the pandemic. The employees of the libraries continued to work in the community doing contract tracing, signing people up for vaccinations and at food pantries.
Youth Services Coordinator Kaela Wallman said it’s exciting to start seeing people come into the library again, especially the kids who will be kicking off the summer reading challenge soon. Wallman said the rearrangement of the book stacks ensures people see some of the new and popular books they might be interested in as soon as they walk through the door. One popular book is “Dog Man” by Dav Pilkey.
She said the library is easier to navigate and the children’s space actually grew a little, giving them more space to explore and learn.
She also said the survey for the library will be important in determining what items are needed for the kids that visit the library. She said pre-COVID on average 150 kids were at the library every week.
“The families in this neighborhood love the library,” she said.
One of those families is Legislator Philip Fields, who said Woodlawn Library was the first library his family got library cards at. His family also loved renting DVDs from the library to watch while on long trips, he said.
“Libraries are so much more than books. They are places for families, friends and neighbors to meet and learn,” Fields said. “The renovations made to the Woodlawn library make it a more comfortable place to visit.”
Take the survey
People can access the survey at any of the county libraries or at www.scpl.org
The Woodlawn Branch Library is open Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Other branch hours can be found at www.scpl.org