Richards Library’s collection of books, located now on the first floor of the library’s new addition, stand ready for the public to browse through. The library’s long-awaited expansion and renovation project is now concluding, and the addition — which includes a community room, elevator and reading areas— should be open to the public in a week or so.
The project to expand and renovate Richards Library, an ambitious effort underway for over a decade, is soon coming to a long-awaited conclusion, Library board president Susan Jennings said this week.
The Library’s addition — complete with community room, book stacks and public computer facilities — will officially accommodate the public after a certificate of occupancy is obtained, perhaps this coming week, she said. At that time, the library will have a new main entrance — the entry on Library Avenue.
A public open house to show off the library’s new amenities is tentatively set for mid-September, she added.
The library is retaining its historic ambiance while equipping itself to meet the needs of a new tech-savvy generation, Jennings said.
“We’ll now be bridging the digital divide,” she said, noting that the library is now setting up six public computer work stations in the area the circulation desk once was situated. Also, staffers are being trained to assist patrons in obtaining and downloading material for their e-readers, she added.
The library’s historic ambiance is retained through the use of lighting fixtures in classic styles, generous use of oak trim, and architecture that retains and enhances the library’s 1901 origins.
The small area that once hosted book stacks is now where the circulation desk is situated. The addition, located at the rear, features expansive rows of bookshelves, a public reading lounge, two new handicapped accessible rest rooms, an elevator that takes patrons to both levels, archive storage, a small meeting room, and a large community room – the latter to be available for various groups, cultural events and presentations, Jennings said.
The project includes installing fire sprinklers and other upgrades to meet current building code, she added.
The effort to expand the library was launched in 2001, but languished for several years in the mid-2000s while its endowment, intended for capital improvements, was used for operating expenses.
The construction project was rekindled after a multi-year concerted effort to corral state grants for the construction and establish public funding for operations.
Additionally, a public vote in May 2012 approved raising $98,100 in revenue annually through a tax on property owners residing in the boundaries of the Warrensburg Central School District, primarily Warrensburg and Thurman.
Jennings said these two funding sources allowed the completion of the stalled library expansion effort.
Looking at the first floor of the library addition, Jennings smiled and said the library would now, more than ever, meet the needs of area citizens.
“This is going to be forever,” she said.