Dick Lynch, head librarian at the Northern New York American-Canadian Geneological Society in the Dannemora village offices building, said the abundance of offices there is great for word-of-mouth promotion.
With the chatter of preschoolers, the aerobic thumping of a senior citizen exercise class and squeaky sneakers in the hardwood-floored gym, the village offices on Emmons Street have gone from a dusty, closed school full of surplus equipment to a colorful community center.
“It’s amazing the number of people that come through here,” said Village Mayor Michael Bennett.
Village offices like the clerk, mayor and court are housed in the former Dannemora Elementary building, but other offerings keep traffic flowing in the sunny hallway.
The library occupies two rooms there, with the nursery school kitty-corner down the hall.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” said Carrie Coty from Cadyville. She was setting up some toys in the gym for a play session after the preschool ended. Her kid’s enrolled in the program.
Sometimes she’ll use the gym to stretch her legs out of the cold weather, she said, and she often visits the library down the hall.
Next door to the preschool, Village Historian Pete Light’s put together a museum on Dannemora’s history.
“The building’s totally alive,” said Light.
The Northern New York American-Canadian Geneological Society library moved in at the end of the hall after the Keeseville civic center closed.
“Most everybody passes by, so a lot of people see our office,” said Dick Lynch, head librarian for the Genealogical Society.
Most of the occupants are there free, though the nursery school and Genealogical Society each pay rent for their offices. Part of the Society’s lease includes free access for village residents.
Library Director Laura Pritchard said being near all those offices and services helps spread the word about the library.
Kids from the nursery school read there sometimes, and they’ll show it to their parents or grandparents. When Youth Commission basketball games are on, bored siblings will wander down the hall and enjoy a book.
“Lots of people who never heard of the library are stopping in and finding out about us,” said Pritchard. She added that ebooks will be available from the library by the end of the month.
The village just signed a lease that will bring the State Police into the building, said Bennett. They’ll rent, but their lease will be covered by a nominal fee, $1.
“But if it saves us from vandalism it’s well worth it,” said Bennett.
After the police move in, there will be only one spare room left. Some guys with a model airplane club looked at it, said Bennett, but they didn’t bite.
In addition to making the classrooms available as office space, the gym’s open to the public, and has had basketball games played by local adults. Just call the clerk to make sure the room’s open.
The cafeteria and kitchen are also ready for public use. Bennett’s heard some interest from the fire department in using it for their pancake fund-raiser. He hopes others will come along and hold baby showers or birthday parties there. If there’s an emergency and the village offices are used for a shelter, the kitchen could prepare meals for those seeking solace there.
The kitchen was redone somewhat by the village, with “monster” commercial cooking equipment sold off at auction and replaced with a more manageable set of standard kitchen ranges and a refrigerator. It’s already been reviewed and OK’d by the health department.
“The main message I want to get out is that it’s the village residents’ building,” said Bennett. “Come use it.”