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New Claverack Library hosts grand opening

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CLAVERACK—A building that began life as a firehouse will now house the Claverack Free Library’s collection, as well as artwork, a children’s room with craft area, a teen room, a coffee nook, computers, and a town history archive, among other things.

The public is invited to view the new space,, which faces state Route 9H at the corner of the intersection with Route 23B, for the first time from noon to 4 p.m. October 26.

“The new library is full of touches of people who have been passionate about the project,” said Library Board of Trustees member Jennifer Fortenbaugh Post. “We’re thrilled with the way it turned out. Our architect, Linda McNuff, has been amazing and has been there every step of the way.”

Books and other materials in the old Claverack Free Library await the move across the lawn to the new library building a short walk away at 629 state Route 23B at Route 9H. Opening ceremonies will be held Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Photo by Kate Mostaccio

The building has undergone extensive renovations since the library purchased the property. All of the work was made possible by more than 700 neighbors, area businesses, and private charitable foundations, leaving the library debt-free despite the $2.6-million price tag.

The grand opening will begin with a ribbon-cutting, brief speeches, tours, and light refreshments, Ms. Post said, sponsored by the Kneller Insurance Agency and Dog Wood Farm.

Parking will be available in the church parking lot two doors down and volunteers will be directing traffic. The State Police will also assist with traffic, Ms. Post said.

A sneak peek at the library, as the books were moved from the old building, just a few steps away, and onto the shelves, revealed little details that bring the community to the library. From hand-painted tiles incorporated into the children’s room restroom, to the artwork displays planned for the community room, to a historical look at the A.B. Shaw Fire Company in the lobby, the new space is full of surprises.

“There will be a custom sculpture in the children’s room,” Ms. Post said. “Ghent Wood Products provided wood for a custom table.” The late Cyndy Hall’s piano will be in the community room and there will be a gallery featuring the paintings of the late Bob Laurie and his wife Marilyn. Also in the community room will be a display of Joan Steiner’s books.

With new space and opportunities, and the rising costs associated with running the library, the library is seeking an increase in town funding through a referendum on the November 5 ballot for Claverack voters. (Early voting begins October 26).

A 1995 New York state law allows the people, not the town government, to determine what level of support they want to give their library. This is the third time since 2003 that the Claverack Library is asking for an increase.

“The Claverack Free Library is the heart of our community and is much more than a place to borrow books,” a Frequently Asked Questions write-up, produced to inform voters, states. “Today’s library is a vibrant social center and technology hub, with extensive and varied free programming offered for all ages. Boosted by technological advances over the past two decades, the CFL now serves growing numbers of patrons who rely upon free access to the internet to enhance their personal, educational, cultural, and professional lives.”

The referendum appears on the back of the ballot, Ms. Post said. The amount requested from the town is $10,000 and can only be applied to the library’s annual budget. “If the entire cost of this proposition is passed on to property owners… the increase adds $1.72 (to the current $11.36) for a total of $13.08 per $100,000 of assessed value,” the FAQ explained.

That number could go down if the town finds other sources of revenue.

The library’s operating budget has risen significantly to meet the additional costs of salaries, benefits, heating, building maintenance and technology. In 2003, the budget was $70,070. In 2019, it is set at $130,054.

“The Mid-Hudson Library System recommends libraries go to the voters every couple of years,” Ms. Post said. Compared to other county libraries, Claverack maintains the lowest funding level and receives approximately half as much funding from its town than other libraries.

For more information on the Claverack Library, visit www.claveracklibrary.org.

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