ALBANY. N.Y. (NEWS10) – In this digital world, libraries continue to receive funding and be available to the public for free use. Several libraries have secured funding or undergone transformations in the Capital Region over the past several weeks.

The Guilderland Public Library had a major renovation and expansion over the past few months. The library says it has finished the renovation 10.5 months ahead of schedule and $250 thousand under budget. They say the library is 20% larger and has 20% lower energy costs.

The library plans to reopen on September 27.

Rows of shelves at the Guilderland Public Library (source: Guilderland Public Library).

Local officials are helping to grant funding to libraries as well. New York State Senator Daphne Jordan announced $433,343 in state aid to help public libraries across the 43rd Senate District.

The libraries include:

  • Claverack Free Library: $17,451 for library improvements that will expand hours of access, increase accessibility for the elderly and frail, conserve energy, and enhance community safety
  • Philmont Public Library: $23,941 for foundational and structural rehabilitation, and upgrades
  • Valatie Free Library: $2,500 for the library to purchase a new furnace to maintain a healthier environment for staff and patrons
  • Stillwater Public Library: $337,500 for the Stillwater Public Library to purchase a former factory to use as a new building
  • Brunswick Community Library: $11,625 for the addition of a second bathroom to the Brunswick Library to help manage heavy use and traffic
  • Cheney Library: $21,078 to expand the paved parking lot and install a wheelchair access ramp with exterior lighting to create a fully accessible library 
  • Nassau Free Library: $19,248 for the replacement of a defective disabled access ramp decking with new framing and decking. Also, the replacement of fluorescent lighting with LED Lighting.

“Our fantastic public libraries have always been vital, beloved assets that support reading, learning, culture, as well as countless programs and services that inspire children, help families, and serve communities. Throughout the pandemic, our public libraries have been doing more than ever, playing a vital role in helping close the digital divide by connecting more families and students with much-needed broadband access to facilitate remote learning and work,” said Jordan.

Jordan says New York’s public libraries are in urgent need of renovation and upgrading. Over half of the over 1,000 public library buildings in communities across New York are over 60 years old, and another one-third are more than three decades old.

New York State Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner recently announced library construction awards for her district as well. This includes $14,231.00 for Bancroft Public Library to replace six single-pane windows will be
replaced to improve energy efficiency and well as minor masonry work will be performed at one window opening.

“Local libraries fill a critical need here in our communities not only as homes of knowledge and information but as community gathering places,” said Woerner. “This summer I spent touring our local libraries as part of my Summer Reading Tour and it is very clear to me that these grants will help ensure our local libraries are around to years to come to continue providing resources for community members of all ages.”

Assemblyman Chris Tague announced funding for libraries in the 102nd district. Tague says the RCS Community Library will be receiving $7,057 to update its HVAC system to improve indoor air quality. The Rensselaerville Library will be given $9,734 to add air conditioning to the Annex portion of their building by installing ductless mini-split units.

“Our libraries have become more important than ever, especially as our personal and professional lives become further reliant on technology and the internet,” said Tague.

Many of these construction awards are being distributed through a $14 million state budget capital fund appropriation. The fund was established to support the construction and renovation of public libraries and library systems throughout the state.

Not only are libraries being funded on a local level, but some are also gaining state and national recognition. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul nominated a library in Warren County to be on the New York State Register of Historic Places. After it is reviewed and approved, it would be entered into the National Register of Historic Places.

Mountainside Free Library was built in 1904 in Queensbury and was founded by regional author, historian, and educator Edward Eggleston. Donating some of his personal books to the library project, the author was a regional novelist who wrote about the American frontier experience. The library has long been run by volunteers and has no paid staff.  

Mountainside Free Library (source: NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation)

The funding and recognition of local libraries show what a vital part of the community they are.