The New York State Library has awarded more than $300,000 to Albany County libraries in an effort to help fund the needed projects.
Locally, nearly $80,000 was awarded through the Public Library Construction Grant Program to the Voorheesville Public Library and the Altamont Free Library for ongoing projects. State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk on Tuesday, June 25, announced eight grants awarded to libraries in the 46th Senate District, including Voorheesville and Altamont.
“When I was growing up, the local library was extremely important to me and to the entire community. It was a sanctuary that offered knowledge-hungry kids an opportunity to learn about things outside the classroom,” Tkaczyk said in a statement. “Many of these grants will increase accessibility to local libraries, and I am very happy that more people will be able to take advantage to all libraries have to offer.”
The Voorheesville Public Library is receiving $51,000 to replace its 25-year-old roof with a modern, more energy efficient model. The replacement will have increased insulation and seamless gutters to improve energy conservation. The Altamont Free Library is receiving $28,542 towards energy efficiency and accessibility projects that involve building an entrance foyer, improving safety of its accessibility ramp and insulating its attic and floor.
A $14 million capital fund appropriation in the state’s budget for public libraries supports the grand program, which can provide up to 75 percent of acquisition, construction, renovation or rehabilitation costs of public libraries.
A survey by the State Library found public library construction and renovations needs statewide exceed $2.5 billion.
The survey found 40 percent of libraries statewide are more than 60 years old and another 30 percent are more than 30 years old. The study said many public libraries have a lack of modern technology for Internet or computer usage, insufficient electrical wiring and don’t have enough space for public computer access. Many libraries also cannot accommodate people with disabilities.
Voorheesville Library Director Gail Sacco said the library would be setting aside funds annually to put towards replacing the roof, with the state providing a 50 percent match.
“The current roof is not leaking, but it is old,” Sacco said. “It has been there for 25 years and we do have it checked routinely.”
She said the library has several years to use the funding, so it’s able to hold off until it has matching funds.
Altamont Free Library is in the opposite situation, because a majority of the grant-funded work has already been completed, according to Library Director Judith Wines.
“The construction grants have been wonderful for libraries,” Wines said.
Altamont’s awarded grant funding is going towards the final phase of renovations at its new location. The previous library was unable to serve people in wheelchairs, she said, so the new library has addressed accessibility issues.
“The best thing is seeing people who could not come into our previous library location coming in,” she said.