After 88 years living in cramped quarters, the Highland Library is spreading its wings at their new location at 14 Elting Place. They will celebrate by cutting a ceremonial Grand Opening ribbon this Sunday, January 28 at 3 p.m.
Library Director Julie Kelsall-Dempsey said the library is opening on-time and within their $4.8 million budget. To help offset the costs, the library received a combined $450,000 in grants from NYS Assemblyman Frank Skartados and NYS Sen., George Amadore, and nearly $30,000 in donations.
Kelsall-Dempsey said the town library moved into their old location at Main and Church Streets on February 3, 1930.
“It was the home of dentist Dr. Casper and Georgianna Rose Ganse. We found his dental tools in the attic when we were moving and gave them to the town historian,” she said.
Kelsall-Dempsey said she will enjoy every square inch of their new 10,250 sq./ft. after living in a 2,500 sq./ft. shoe box. The library had a soft opening on Monday “and we’ve had no glitches with any of the technology. Things we’re working on now are minor things like where to put grommets in desks but everything else is working fine.”
Kelsall-Dempsey said they broke ground in November 2016 and had a few shutdown periods due to winter storms and freezing but “once they were able to get inside things moved quicker.”
Kelsall-Dempsey said Paul Mays, of Butler Rowland & Mays Architects, asked a lot of questions that helped to clarify what they wanted in a library.
“The firm was very good at coming in and talking to staff to see how we do things and calculating how much material, how many shelves we would need and asking what we would like,” she said. “They also talked to the public in those public hearings that we had and taking that all into consideration and then coming up with something that met everything that we had discussed.”
Kelsall-Dempsey said they now have a meeting room with a capacity for 72 people, an enclosed teen room, a children’s room and a program room that houses a 3D printer and where kids have a snack. There are benches around the outside flagpole where people can sit with their laptops and also a few benches in outside nooks. Rocking chairs will be set out in the warmer weather.
“So it takes in that whole farm-rural community and even the building itself kind of resembles a farmhouse, we think,” she said.
Kelsall-Dempsey came to work at the library in July 1993 and moved up to Director in January 1996. She estimated that the collection today numbers about 35,000 in books and movies.
The library is maintaining the same number of staff members; four full-time and eight part time, including three pages, students who work a few times a week after school. The library hours will remain the same “until we see the demand”: Monday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Kelsall-Dempsey thanked the public “who supported us and believed in us” through their entire journey. She gave special thanks to Barone Construction as the Project Manager; General Contractor Arris Construction; Veith Electric; Site Company Profex; Ashley Mechanical for heating and air conditioning, Dutchess Mechanical for plumbing and SRI for the sprinkler system.
By Mark Reynolds