By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
CAIRO — It’s been 10 years since the Cairo Public Library opened its doors in its new, all-American-made building.
The library held a ceremony honoring the work of those who made the new building possible a decade ago, particularly Dottie True and the late Maureen Forrestor, who spearheaded the effort to fund and build the new library back in 2012.
“Ten years in this beautiful building, 59 years of service to the Cairo community,” Library Director Debra Kamecke said.
The building, located at 15 Railroad Ave., was possible due to the hard work and dedication of a group of individuals “who left an indelible mark, not only on the library, but on the town of Cairo,” Kamecke said.
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, executive director of the Mid-Hudson Library System, said the Cairo library serves as a model facility.
“We have 66 member libraries and the Cairo library stands out as a model,” Aldrich said. “The journey to get to the grand opening was such a saga and to understand the work and the care and the attention that was put into building this building and watching the community come together and make really smart choices — from having an all-American-made building where you source the materials from the U.S., to watching the geothermals go in to make sure you are really dedicated to the long-term viability of this building.”
“This building is still a model, after 10 years in our system, throughout the state and the country,” Aldrich added. “I speak internationally about libraries and I talk about the Cairo Public Library.”
State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-46, spoke of the importance of libraries, particularly in rural areas where resources, such as broadband, may be scarce.
“Here in Cairo you have, I think, one of the best things in Greene County,” Hinchey said. “Sharing resources is so important, especially in rural communities where maybe the access to the internet is not as great as it could be in all parts of our communities, maybe access to broader information isn’t as easily accessible as it should be in our areas. Libraries are so profoundly important for those reasons and for so many of you to step up to band together and say our community deserves this, our community needs this and we are going to make it happen, isn’t easy.”
Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, noted the important role libraries play in the culture of a community.
“Ten years, what an incredible feat,” Tague said. “When I think of libraries, I think of a place of security, a place to be able to go to learn, a place to be secure, a place for hopes, dreams, things that can be accomplished and people sometimes don’t have the resources at home to be able to do.”
Greene County Legislator Harry Lennon, D-Cairo, recalled trips to the library in his youth and how the new building came to be.
“Ten years ago, Dottie True and Maureen Forrestor had a vision and here we are — 10 years, all-American-made building. A lot of towns can’t say that,” Lennon said. “It’s a beautiful building and a focal point of Cairo, it’s a focal point of Greene County, and it is a focal point of the Mid-Hudson Library System. I’m proud of it and I will continue to support it.”
The library’s new Reading Garden was dedicated to former Greene County Legislator and long-time library supporter Bill Lawrence, and the Little Free Library — which provides books available to anyone regardless of whether they have a library card — was dedicated to Senior Library Clerk Robin Diffendale, who has worked with the library 32 years.
The Children’s Room was dedicated to Dot True, who spearheaded the library’s construction 10 years ago alongside the late Maureen Forrestor.
“We had some really tough struggles when we were building the library and whenever we got disheartened, wondering should we give up, there was one trustee who never gave up. Dot True,” Kamecke said with tears in her eyes.
True said the ceremony was an emotional one for her.
“I wish Maureen was here with me,” True said. “We spent a lot of time together, we became very good friends and we shared a purpose — we both felt the same way, we were going to get this darn thing done.”
True recalled that when Forrestor moved to Cairo after her marriage to Ed Forrestor, she didn’t know anyone and the library was a welcoming place where she could spend time, get books and meet friends in her new community.
True spoke of the challenge in getting state funding for the new library, and the persistent phone calls to state officials to convince them to provide financial backing for the project.
The library’s Community Room, which is available to the public for use and for library programming, was dedicated to Maureen Forrestor, who was involved with the library in various capacities for 20 years and worked with True to make the new building possible. Her husband, Ed Forrestor, who is also vice president of the library’s board of trustees, accepted the certificate on his late wife’s behalf.
“Thank you for this day,” Forrestor said. “Maureen would be proud.”