Gloversville Public Library set to move back ‘home’

Gloversville Public Library Director Barbara Madonna chats with one of the contractors performing renovation work throughout the building on Tuesday in the third floor Carnegie Room where the library will hold concerts, performances and other special events after reopening in the permanent building at 58 N. Fulton St. in November. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Public Library will be making the short trip home to the permanent location at 58 E. Fulton St. within the next month, reopening in the renovated building on Nov. 4 following a temporary closure for three weeks beginning on Oct. 14.

The library began a restoration project at it’s permanent location on East Fulton Street in spring 2017, funded by a capital campaign that raised over $8 million. The library opened in 1904 and was funded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie’s library program.

While visiting the building on Tuesday, Library Director Barbara Madonna said renovation work is progressing on schedule and is 92 percent complete. Construction is slated for completion in the third week of October when a moving company will begin moving the library’s collection from the temporary location at 34 W. Fulton St.

The interior of the library has been completely overhauled with the creation of new spaces throughout the entire four-floor building where activities were previously confined to the first floor due to accessibility issues.

A four-stop, 90 degree elevator with doors facing the southern and western sides of the building will be installed to bring the historic building into compliance with the American’s with Disabilities Act. The structure for the main shaft has already been installed with the elevator expected to be in before library staff return to the building later this month.

Work continues in the main lobby of the Gloversville Public Library on Tuesday where carpeting and painting are progressing and the circulation desk has been installed. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

In order to add the elevator, major upgrades to the building’s wiring had to be completed to support the energy demands.

The original, failing boiler — still in use before renovations began — has been replaced with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system with two boilers in the basement running to heat pumps located in each room, equipped with their own thermostats for individual adjustment.

These major projects necessitated the overall renovations and capital campaign as the building would lose its grandfathered in exempt status if one or all of the projects were implemented, making it necessary to bring the entire structure up to code.

“We want the library to be an accessible space to the entire community, not just the select group that can actually get in the building,” Madonna said.

The capital campaign co-chaired by library Board of Trustees President Christine Pesses and Trustee Elizabeth Batchelor 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.

The Gloversville Public Library's adult fiction room on the second floor of the building is shown with new carpeting and a fresh coat of paint on Tuesday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Work on the building’s infrastructure is substantially complete with wiring and plumbing nearly finished. Newly constructed walls to create rooms are in place with sheet rocking finished and much of the painting complete.

The lower level will house 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 will feature 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 will include the adult fiction collection, three meeting rooms, a kitchen, a staff breakroom and the building’s restored concert room. The building will also feature seven fully accessible bathrooms, two on each floor and a dedicated staff bathroom.

Furniture installation has begun with bookshelves installed in the adult non-fiction room on the main level. The same metal and woodgrain bookshelves will be featured throughout the building, making them interchangeable if room reconfigurations becomes necessary. Only the shelves in the children’s room will differ from those in the rest of the building with different endcaps.

New bookshelves, light fixtures and carpeting have been installed in the adult non-fiction room on the first floor of the Gloversville Public Library, shown on Tuesday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Madonna said the furniture is from a Johnstown based company that is bringing pieces over in small batches for immediate installation as rooms are finished. Lounge seating, tables and chairs will be received last.

Madonna noted that renovations and furniture choices are intended to make the library inviting to the public for reading, working or chatting. Small and large meeting rooms will be available for walk-in use when available or scheduled reservations upon request at no charge.

“We’re trying to make every space not only accessible, but usable and functional with a purpose,” Madonna said.

The installation of flooring is progressing throughout the building, most rooms will be carpeted, with linoleum installed in craft areas or rooms where food will be prepared and/or served. The library’s rear entrance features glossy gray tiling.

Work throughout the building maintains or enhances the building’s historic characteristics. Paint choices were made based in part on the building’s original colors or those introduced during previous renovations.

The basement level where the children and teen room will be located features bright shades of green and purple to make the space feel airy despite the limited natural light. The upper floor features shades of denim blue and lime green for a “fun” feel in the versatile and functional space. The ground floor level features shades of blue, brown and taupe on the walls and carpet.

“Throughout downstairs we’ve maintained the classic, historical feel so many have commented on when they come to the Gloversville Public Library,” Madonna said.

Madonna said minor construction items including the installation of light fixtures may continue when library staff move back into the building and start unpacking during the three week temporary closure that begins on Oct. 14.

“Patrons are going to have to stock up that week to get themselves through,” she said half jokingly.

The yellow drop-box will continue to be available for book returns at 34 W. Fulton St. during the closure and Madonna encouraged residents to visit the libraries in Johnstown, Amsterdam and Northville during the transition.

The library will reopen for full service on Nov. 4, resuming normal business hours and regular weekly programs including Drop-In Tech Help and Story Time.

Madonna said patrons will likely need extra support from staff during the first week back in the library as everything will be in entirely new locations. There will also be a new traffic pattern in the parking lot that vehicles will enter on West Fulton Street and exit on Fremont Street.

Once patrons and staff have had a chance to get reacclimated to the building, a grand opening celebration will be held on Sunday, Nov. 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. with speakers and special guests including Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo. The grand opening will give visitors a chance to explore the building and enjoy refreshment on a day when regular library services will not be available.

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.

Madonna said the week of events will act as both a showcase and an opportunity to pilot new types of programming for the library for community feedback.

“We really want community input, I don’t think we have all the answers,” Madonna said. “We can have all the ideas in the world, but if the public isn’t interested there’s not much point in doing that.”

Community outreach will be a focus for the library moving forward, to not only get people into the library, but to connect them with services they might not know they can access through the library whether they visit the physical location or not.

“I think if we can be at the high school at open house and talking to parents and kids in their environment, if we can partner with guidance counselors about how to get financial aid for college or career information, we’ll still be able to serve the community even if they don’t necessarily step foot in the building,” Madonna said.

“In some cases they just need to know that there are resources here that they can use. Sometimes you have to have that one on one conversation.”

In the very near future, Madonna is looking forward to returning to the library and sharing the renovated building with area residents.

“With two weeks left to go there’s not much more that I can control, but everybody is doing what they need to be doing,” Madonna said. “I’m excited.”