By guest-blogger Jessica Henry McClements
I recently spent some time with librarian Sonny Duross at the Gloversville Public. A couple of months ago, Sonny gave me a personal tour of the recently completed renovations. I hadn’t been inside of that building in quite a long time. It was evident that a lot of time and hard work went into the transformation of this beautiful Carnegie Library to make way for the future, while maintaining the integrity of the historic building. As he walked me through the four floors of the building, I was blow away at how remarkable every detail had been thought through to make this the best public space possible. When I decided I wanted to write about how much I loved this library, I decided I should sit down with Sonny to talk about why we love libraries so much and what makes the Gloversville Public Library particularly special.
Sonny answered with a big excited smile, “I LOVE BOOKS!”
I can’t argue with that statement. My love of libraries comes from a love of books. I love reading. I spent many childhood summers in the Johnstown Public Library which was just 2 blocks from my house finding books to read. I could spend hours upon hours sifting through the shelves and hiding behind a stack with a good book. If you are a book lover you love the smell of a library. It’s a distinct smell and it actually has a name: biblichor.
biblichor (n.) the distinct, faint, musty smell of old books that fills the nostrils when you enter an old library or an old bookstore.
For Sonny, his relationship with the Gloversville Public Library started in middle school during one of his first visits there. His visits became more and more frequent and before he graduated from High School they offered him a job as a page. He continued to work there part time after graduation even when he had a full time job with another company. After that ended, he continued working and growing with the library itself. He has now been working at the Gloversville Library for 14 years.
I asked Sonny to list 3 things that he thought were reasons for people to love our downtown library. His answer was clear and concise:
“Books, Space, & Staff”
Access to books is a given. Everyone knows that the library has books but the Gloversville Public Library is home to over 50,000 pieces of material including books, audio books, magazines, DVDs, reference material and more. Whether you are a kid learning to read with the beautiful art of a picture book, a teenager just trying to get away from your nagging parents for a while by sitting down at the library to read a magazine or the latest YA novel, or an adult who just wants to turn off the world by getting into a great mystery novel there is something on the shelves for everyone. The Library has also adapted to other community needs like offering free internet and computer use to folks who may not be able to afford it at home to do things like job search, complete school projects, or simply stay connected to their family and friends who do not live nearby. Audiobooks are available for those who may not have time to sit down and read or perhaps have failing eyesight and this helps them to continue their love of stories and information. Adaptability is the key word here.
The Gloversville Public Library is a testament to the idea of being a community cornerstone. The massive renovations created new space and opened up old space. The library is full of bright and open space. I asked Sonny to explain how the recent renovations helped the library to adapt to the growing world and the first thing he told me was that it gave them more space. What was once 1000 square feet the library now offers 2000 square feet of usable space. The friends of the Library meeting room was transformed into two public use meeting spaces. The children’s room moved to the basement which gave way for more space for other reading sections, book nooks, study spaces, and even a small room that can be used for tutoring. The children’s room, now in the basement, has expanded. Not only is there a lively and child friendly space for books and magazines but also a special reading room for story time and other activities like arts & crafts but they have also built a Teen Room which is a dedicated space for teens to use after school and during the summer. They have truly embraced the placemaking ideas that the DDS office promotes by making their space safe, open, and welcoming to all.
The staff has also expanded with the renovations. It transformed several part time positions to full time and added 4 new positions. This newly added space has paved the way for an increase in activities and programming aimed and getting the public through its doors. The staff can now facilitate a copious offering of programs such as an expanded children’s summer reading program including a traveling story time, Tech Help nights, History presentations, music performances and more.
Libraries are genuinely the cornerstone of many communities but the Gloversville community, and the downtown area in particular, are incredibly lucky to have such a special and well taken care of place that puts their community first. Our library isn’t a place full of books and people and space, it is a symbol of how Downtown Gloversville can and will grow and change and adapt for the future and be a space for all to enjoy and grow with.