Library reopens for the public

Gloversville Public Library Trustee and Capital Campaign Co-Chair Elizabeth Batchelor admires a refinished desk in the fiction room on the second floor of the library on Friday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — Years of planning, fundraising and gathering community input came to fruition on Monday when the Gloversville Public Library reopened at 58 E. Fulton St. following the location’s temporary 18-month closure while the building underwent extensive renovations.

The library moved temporarily to 34 W. Fulton St. in April 2017 when a massive $8 million renovation project began in the library’s permanent location that opened in 1904, funded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie’s library program.

The interior of the library has been completely overhauled with the creation of new spaces throughout the entire four-floor building and new infrastructure introduced–including a four-stop, 90 degree elevator with doors facing the southern and western sides of the building — to bring the historic structure into compliance with the American’s with Disabilities Act.

The library’s temporary location closed on Oct. 13, giving library staff three weeks to move back into the permanent location and organize the collection before reopening on Monday.

During the final days of the temporary closure, staff members and contractors were busy readying final touches, moving boxes into storage and rearranging the library’s new and refinished furniture.

Furniture was in place in the staff break room at the Gloversville Public Library on Friday, ready for Monday's reopening at the permanent location at 58 E. Fulton St. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

On Friday, Capital Campaign Co-Chair and library trustee Elizabeth Batchelor was on hand to lend a hand cleaning and vacuuming the building’s newly carpeted floors.

“At this point, 90 percent of what’s left is cleaning,” Batchelor said.

While library staff were busy cleaning and organizing, contractors finished installing new treads on the building’s historic spiral staircase, wiring in the basement’s new teen room and children’s activity room, testing fire alarms and carrying large boxes and pieces of furniture throughout the building.

“I am so excited,” Batchelor said surveying the building. “I think it will please the public. I think they will think it was well worth it and it will be something the community is very proud of.”

“It’s amazing I had a small part in it,” she added.

Final touches were being made at the Gloversville Public Library on Friday as contractors and staff members prepared for Monday's reopening at the permanent location at 58 E. Fulton St. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Batchelor co-chaired the library’s successful capital campaign to fund the renovations with library Board of Trustees President Christine Pesses. The campaign raised $4.8 million in grants, including $2 million obtained by former state Sen. Hugh T. Farley shortly before his retirement, a $1.1 million state Consolidated Funding Application grant and a $223,878 grant secured by state Sen. James Tedisco.

According to Library Director Barbara Madonna, the support for the library renovations at every level was the key to the project’s success.

“One of the greatest benefits we’ve had for this project is the team. Right from the beginning, Chris Pesses was like we can do this, we have to do this. We had folks on the board in association with the project that were worried and concerned and unsure, but we never had any naysayers. There was never anybody that said ‘no, you can’t do this, you shouldn’t do this, this is the wrong thing,'” Madonna said.

“Whether it was the board, the staff, the volunteers, the donors, the professionals or just the community in general, everybody has just been gunning for success and pitching in and helping wherever they could.”

Even during the final move, Madonna said the team was willing to do a little more heavy lifting than originally planned when the elevator inspection occurred later than scheduled, meaning the elevator could not be used to move books and furniture.

Staff members carried about 9,000 pieces out of the 13,000 piece children and teen collection down to the basement level by hand while contractors removed an upper story window and used a bucket loader to lift shelving and other items up to the library’s second and third floors.

With the library’s entire collection being shifted into new homes throughout the entire building for the first time, Madonna and Batchelor expressed their excitement to finally reopen the building to area residents.

“Each room is a new surprise and I hope it’s an adventure for everybody to explore the new spaces,” Madonna said.

Before the renovations, library services and programs were confined to the building’s main level, but the addition of the elevator and another staircase will allow patrons and staff to fully utilize the building for reading, working, activities and events.

The library’s lower level now houses a children’s area with a special activity area, a teen space, two lobby galleries and a storage area for the friends of the library.

The main level features a small study room, a computer room, a lobby gallery, a local history room for the library’s collection and genealogical documents and the relocated non-fiction, new fiction, research and media collections.

The upper level includes the adult fiction collection, three meeting rooms, a kitchen, a staff break room and the building’s restored concert room.

The building also includes bathrooms on each floor and new lounge seating, tables and chairs for patrons to read, work or chat.

Despite all the changes, the renovation work maintains and highlights the Carnegie building’s well known historic features.

“I think when people walk through that front door they’re going to be able to see that it’s still the Carnegie building,” Head of Children’s Services Sally Fancher said.

The Gloversville Public Library will offer full service this week at the permanent building at 58 E. Fulton St. during normal business hours today and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A grand opening celebration will be held on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. with speakers and special guests including Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo. Regular library services will not be available on Sunday.

The celebration will be followed by a full week of special library events for children and adults hosted throughout the building to highlight new spaces including concerts, presentations, craft projects and more. A full schedule can be viewed online at gloversvillelibrary.org.

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