FEURA BUSH — A small neighborhood library made out of independent necessity has closed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Feura Bush Neighborhood Library started in the 1980s. It was first housed in an old firehouse and then moved to a one schoolhouse behind the Jerusalem Reformed Church where it has remained. The library came to existence out of the need for children in Feura Bush as it wasn’t possible for them to independently travel to the Bethlehem or Ravena libraries.
“A byproduct of this was local people interested in the idea got involved,” Judith Wing, Feura Bush librarian, said.
The Feura Bush Neighborhood Association began the library. The association started in early 1980 to bring people in the town together to learn and discuss ways of improving life in the community. Everyone in the community was considered a member of the association.
The library was a community effort and all the books of the library were donated. The library was also the only way to access the internet by sitting in the driveway before the rural town received all around internet access.
Most recently the library has become a place for retired men to sit and talk, but little more.
Last May, a London-based bookseller and library advocate warned American public library directors that fewer people are choosing to use their local library, and the trend is on a sharp decline.
In his published study “The Freckle Report 2021,” Tim Coates stated a 31% decline in public library visits over an eight-year period, up to 2018 — prior to the pandemic.
The former managing director of the retail bookstore chain Waterstones identified the increased use of digital material as the overwhelming factor behind why fewer patrons are visiting their local libraries.
“Some of the favorite memories from library volunteers are playing games like croquet and badminton on the lawn with the children,” Wing said. “Or in the winter, sitting in a rocking chair in the cozy building and reading books to children.”
The Jerusalem Reformed Church has asked the library be cleaned out of the schoolhouse since the program lapsed during the pandemic. As the library is now closed, it is holding a month-long sale of its contents this month. The sale will run every Friday and Saturday in May from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. behind the church on 1433 Indian Fields Road.
Contents include hundreds of children’s and adult fiction and non-fiction books, VHS and DVR movies, toys and board games. 33 ⅓ rpm, 45s, tapes and CD sound recordings are also for sale. The library is also selling some furniture including a small three feet wide by three and a half feet high wooden bookcase and several seven feet tall steel shelving units.
“Though the library will be gone it would be great if the building could continue to be used to build friendships among the people of the community,” Wing said.