The Hamilton Hill library branch has closed suddenly, which may leave the neighborhood with no library for a year or more.
The branch was inside the Carver Community Center, which as recently as last month was advertising that it was making a comeback as a revitalized and stronger organization. But then it closed its doors without any fanfare — leaving the library branch locked up and inaccessible.
There may be no library for the neighborhood until a new branch is built, which may not be finished until 2015.
County spokesman Joseph McQueen said he was saddened by the sudden closure.
“Carver has been an important partner with the county in delivering needed services to the community,” he said. “We have offered any expertise we may be able to provide, if their board desires, to help them through this process so they may hopefully re-open again to serve our community.”
But he added that he doesn’t expect the Carver branch library to reopen. Instead, he said, librarians “will use this time to reach deeper into the community” to find out what the neighborhood wants at its new library.
He also said he’s hoping the new library, which will be located in a building undergoing significant renovations, will be done by the end of 2014 rather than in 2015. The county library system is combining the Hamilton Hill and Duane branches and locating the new library at 954 State St.
Still, some residents said they shouldn’t have to wait a year or more for a library.
“That’s long,” said Teddy Bennett, who was reading at the main branch Friday. “They shouldn’t have closed that library. We need a library. To come down here, it’s a long walk, especially in the winter.”
When he was younger, he recalled, he would spend hours in the Hamilton Hill branch, writing film scripts.
“There’s a lot of kids in that area. It should have a library,” he said.
City Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said she wants another nonprofit group to make space for a branch until the new library is ready.
“I think it’s important that children have access to books,” she said. “A lot of children from this neighborhood don’t necessarily have the transportation, or their parents don’t have the transportation. Carver was something they could walk to.”
She added that school libraries couldn’t fill the gap.
“What happens in the summer when the schools are closed?” she said. “What about now, when the schools are closed? Over the summer, they want kids to read.”
The county Human Rights Commission is also looking for a solution.
“The commissioners are all very concerned,” said Executive Director Angelicia Morris. “We support public education, which is a human right. We are concerned for the residents and the kids.”
For now, the library system is encouraging patrons to go to the Duane or Mont Pleasant branches, which are the closest libraries to the neighborhood.
The Mont Pleasant branch, at 1026 Crane St., is about two-thirds of a mile from the former Hamilton Hill library.
The Duane library, at 1331 State St., is 1.2 miles away.
Carver Community Center officials have refused for weeks to respond to numerous requests for comment about their plans.
Two weeks ago, an employee there scoffed at the “comeback” press release from the center when a reporter asked about it and said she needed to find a new job right away.
By Friday, the Schenectady County library website and phone system had been updated to remove any reference to the library.