Every library is unique – Hudson Valley One
Crossing the lobby, glancing up at its ornate rotunda ceiling, and entering the central hall of the Adriance Memorial Library in Poughkeepsie, the first thing I noticed was the enveloping silence. If you’re looking for quiet, there’s nothing like the concentrated quiet of a library, and the Hudson Valley is full of libraries, each different, expressing the uniqueness of its city, town, or hamlet.
In Adriance, I broke the silence by telling the librarian at the desk, in as calm a voice as possible, that I had memories of walking down a paved path to the back door where the books were. for children. “Oh yes, I remember that too,” she agreed. The children’s bedroom is now on the second floor, and its former location was integrated into the main part of the building during one of its modernizations. Libraries change over time, and this splendid neo-classical building has been open to the public since 1898, so it has undergone several renovations.
As one of the largest libraries in the area, Adriance has a lot of stacks to browse, an underrated pleasure I find in the age of online searching and the ‘reserve’ system immensely useful. Not that I don’t appreciate having access to the over 1.3 million books available in the Mid-Hudson Library System (MHLS), but there’s nothing quite like tapping and swiping. glance through physical books when looking for the one you want.
Library services are changing, as we learned when Phenicia Library (in my current hometown) was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2010. The community loved its library so much that several years of fundraising raised enough money to completely redesign and rebuild the structure. , following guidelines based on the needs of modern customers. When I first walked into the brand new new building, I was impressed by the eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient heat pump control, beautiful warm reddish-brown wooden circulation desk , a bank of new computers, a separate room for Phenicia’s unique collection of fly fishing books, and a large, bright activity room perfect for increasingly in-demand programs.
But to my surprise, there were no batteries. Instead of rows of bookcases in the middle of the rooms, all the walls were neatly lined with books, leaving room for study tables and the placement of chairs for events.
The role of the modern library has increasingly extended to digital and social needs. Thanks to the sophisticated hold system, it is easy to get a book from any MHLS library. In fact, the online catalog is much easier to search than the old card catalog. Without needing to write down Dewey organization decimals, just insert a search term and go. You don’t even have to leave your house except to pick up the book when it arrives at the library in a few days. The catalog includes a description of each book, so although you can’t look behind the covers, it feels like browsing.
With this efficient book distribution system, the building itself turns to other functions. In Phenicia you can try a fishing rod or a ukulele. (Other locations with ukes include Olive, Ulster, Marlboro, Beacon, East Fishkill, and Chatham). As in many other libraries, in Phenicia you can consult a tax or health insurance expert, and once a month a computer repairman offers free diagnosis and treatment of your device. Audiences gather for Cabin Fever concerts in the winter and readings by local authors year-round.
All libraries have reduced their activities during the pandemic, but some gatherings, such as writing classes, have been moved online. As in other areas, the magic of Zoom continues to make these meetings accessible to a wider range of people than in the past.
Unlike the libraries of old, modern facilities also lend audiobooks, music CDs, and DVD movies. If you don’t have a computer or if yours is broken, the library’s desktop computers are available to the public. Library websites offer a connection to online resources, from e-books to language courses, for anyone with a library card.
Moreover, you can get a library card if you live in the region full-time or if you have a secondary residence. Just bring proof of address to your local library and you’ll be set up. Of course, public gatherings and activities do not require a card but are open to everyone.
If you have a thing for batteries, most libraries still have them. The Woodstock Library is unique because of its extensive collection of art books, a result of its history as an arts colony and its continued hospitality to artists. There is also a series of readings and lectures known as the Woodstock Library Forum.
The Stone Ridge Library is one of my favorites, vividly reflecting the town’s history. the The Hasbrouck family property was built in 1798 and converted into a public library in 1909. The architecture includes a two-section Dutch door, a pair of original fireplaces, and hardware and millwork details dating from the construction of the House. There is even a room devoted to local genealogy.
At the Olive Free Library, just south of the Ashokan Reservoir, the basement contains a large meeting room. Went there to see plays (like a production of Thornton Wilder Our city), hear classical piano concerts and attend community meetings on local issues.
One summer, a young beekeeper set up a beehive under glass in the back corner of the ground floor library. The tubes communicated with the outside, so the bees could come and go, while visitors observed hive activity through the glass. I don’t know how many librarians would have the nerve to install a colony of bees in their building.
For children and parents, the local library is an extremely valuable resource. It doesn’t take long to read a picture book, so it’s great to have a steady supply of new books. Many libraries offer story time, where another person reads to your children; playgroups that also give moms social time; and craft activities. On a rainy day, there is no better place to be – for adults and children alike.
Although some library activities are interactive and noisy, there is always a room you can go to if you feel like quiet. What a godsend in our often over-stimulating world!