by Eva Gemmill
Recently a bulging scrapbook surfaced, titled Poestenkill Library 2001 to 2011. I felt compelled to review the history it contained, a remarkable record of the past ten years of Poestenkill Library in its new home. After reading the story, it seemed absolutely necessary to write about the amazing transformation of a once-handsome but derelict home on Main Street. Against all odds it became the beautiful, bustling, center-of-town Poestenkill Library.
So here is The Library Story: 2001 to 2011, with a brief appendix and lots of photos; and with a wish that space had allowed acknowledging scores of helpful folks.
Fairly leaping from the pages of the scrapbook was the energy and dedication of three special Library volunteers and, yes - their joy in working together.
Their devotion, fueled by hard work, was impressive. But it was their leadership that made the difference - it was crucial. So it was that Sue McLaren, Dorothea Fisher, and Margie Morris, with a vision buttressed by leadership skills, led the Library across the street to a new home. They cheerfully and successfully undertook every task - liaison with the Town Board, clearing brush, designing the floor plan, heading volunteer demolition, major painting and carpentry, selecting furnishings, fundraising, overseeing construction - always looking forward.
Gene McLaren captured these typical shots of Margie, Dorothea, and Sue, hard at work in preparation for the Library's Open House. To this dauntless trio we dedicate the story of Poestenkill Library's first decade in its new home. Three Cheers, friends, and thank you for the energy you invested - it keeps our Library exciting!
Many thanks to the Town of Poestenkill, owner of the Library building. Their attention to maintenance has kept the Library looking as great as it did on opening day, ten years ago. Every springtime, meticulous volunteers from Friends of the Library assemble for a window-washing, scrubbing and polishing party. And in between, weekly cleaning keeps the Library's interior shining.
It is the Library's good fortune to have talented photographers to record special events. Several pages of their work are included here. Sorry we can't credit them all, but chief among them are Gene McLaren, LouAnne Lundgren, and Margie and Joe Morris.
The Library is grateful for the custom among many of its friends and their families to designate that gifts in their memory be given to the Library. In addition, a great many remembrances occur during the annual Holiday Lights appeal. Noteworthy examples are Belva Kimball, principal for forty years of Poestenkill Elementary, and teachers Peg Mitchell and Florence Hill. All of them actively supported the Library from its infancy in the 1960s.
And the volunteers! We could not begin to thank them enough. "Many hands make light work," it's true. But it is the good-natured willingness that expands work into the sheer pleasure of helping together. Just ask any of the scores of Poestenkill Library volunteers - and it does take scores of volunteers, to "keep the wind in our sails"!
Bright spring sunshine highlighted Poestenkill Library's handsome new home. Its wide-open front door beckoned the public to the Open House, and amiable visitors responded by the hundreds. They chatted with friends and wrote ecstatic remarks in the guest book, with a great many exclamation marks. Meanwhile Library volunteers, who had recently wielded paintbrushes, washed windows, and moved furniture, were dressed to the nines in spring frocks, all smiles, as they shepherded guests about and posed for photo-ops with politicians.
"Remarkable," was a popular reaction, and how accurate it was. A mere two years before, the shining new Library had been an abandoned old house, largely unnoticed in a jungle of neglected trees and shrubs. About a century ago Ed Ott had built the home for his bride, adding distinctive trim and a fine porch. More recently it had been the home of Judge Andrew Dwyer, until his death in 1996.
Just days before the Open House, aspiring Eagle Scout Michael Ferguson led fellow Scouts in the orderly transfer of 13,000 books across the street from Town Hall. For the past 27 years Poestenkill Library's home had been in the Town Hall basement. Finally, in 1999, the Library's increasingly crowded conditions led the Town Board to purchase the Dwyer home and, because of its proximity to the Town Hall, they envisioned it as the Library's new home. Today's celebration marked their vision become reality.
As the whirlwind Open House party for the Library's new home wound down, Library workers stopped to congratulate each other. Most especially they cheered the three women whose consistent vision and leadership made it happen: Sue McLaren, Dorothea Fisher, and Margie Morris. Modestly, those three credited scores of volunteers, and the joy of working together. Everyone was excited with the handsome new matching bookcases, the big bright children's room, tidy little kitchen, cozy periodical room, the inviting porch. And the space! They reveled in the feeling of newness. From years of "making do," back in their crowded basement home, this was an incredibly thrilling fresh start.
Only six months after Poestenkill Library occupied its new home, they had won three prestigious awards. Poestenkill Library, among 58 applicants state-wide, was chosen as one of four structures in New York State to win Niagara Mohawk's coveted Community Landmarks prize. Then the New York Library Association (NYLA) chose Poestenkill as one of three public libraries in the State to receive its 2001 Building Award - as well as a plaque and $500. And the Library was also honored to be chosen by the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce for its Neighborhood Beautification Award.
Best of all, as the workers had earnestly hoped, Library participation increased dramatically. While circulation increased by almost two thirds (66.25%), the "door count" continued to escalate. Volunteer hours for the year 2000, at 1,031, increased in 2001 to 1,961 - most welcome community participation.
Very likely three components built the foundation for this remarkable move. No movement could take place, however, without the fourth feature.
First of the three is Continuity of Purpose; next comes Community Support; and finally Committed Volunteers. The fourth and absolutely key, of course, is MONEY. Here we speak of each aspect. But because of its crucial role, money comes first.
Poestenkill can point with pride to the prudent fiscal planning of two Town Boards that provided the new Library home. Four years of careful budgeting allowed the Town to acquire not only the building, but a large parking lot, a spacious Town Green, and the space in Town Hall vacated by the Library. All of this without incurring indebtedness. Here's how.
John Zweig, Poestenkill Supervisor from 1996 to 1999, recalls that Town budgets for 1999 and prior years covered the $61,000 purchase price of the Dwyer property, as well as $14,000 preliminary costs, and also set aside $161,000 for construction costs. The Town's 2000 budget added $40,000 to that amount, now $276,000.
Further amounts were required. For example, Library Trustees were asked to raise $75,000 toward construction costs. They committed merely to do the best they could, and Board President Dorothea Fisher turned over to the Board $70,998 that their volunteers had raised. On opening day in April 2001, Town Supervisor Tom Hart reported the final tab as $333,000 - "without indebtedness," he added proudly.
No sooner had the Town Board begun to discuss purchase of the Dwyer house than dollar estimates for possible adaptive reuse surfaced in the community - ranging from $131,000 to half a million. When the Town actually purchased the property in 1999, money talk escalated and controversy began in earnest.
"It's all about money," was often heard.
"It's an old building," some said, "tear it down and build something modern."
Others added, "It'II cost a fortune. Our small town can't afford it." Some Town Board members, as well, were opposed and continued to be so. Still, Library support continued.
Finally, a headline in the Times Union for May 4, 2000 reported "Vote swings toward a new library." Michele Bolton, staff writer familiar with the months of contention, wrote "A Town Board majority last week narrowly passed a proposal for about $258,000 to renovate the Ott/Dwyer property for a new town library." (The vote was three to two.)
No one could have known the structural and legal surprises that lurked, waiting to add fuel - and determination - to discussions, and dollars to construction costs. Early 1900s builders, like Ed Ott, were not constrained by the multitude of codes and work laws that bound 1999 architects and contractors. Asbestos putty meant removal of all windows, then a failing foundation wall was discovered - the project seemed at times to be reverting back beyond square one. Local contractors found it difficult to understand state and union laws that inflated bid prices, yet bound the Town Board in awarding contracts.
As the project progressed, the Town Board gave Library trustees the task of raising money to furnish the building after construction - in effect, to tum it into a library with shelves, cabinet work, carpets, tables and chairs.
A new Library Fundraising Committee named Joe and Margie Morris to head the fundraisers. Undaunted, they combed catalogs, negotiated prices, and arrived at a rough estimate of $35,000 (Their final cost of furnishings and equipment was $51,920). The fundraisers fulfilled the Town Board's request, gratified at heartwarming sources which ranged from hundreds of generous personal gifts to foundation grants. They received encouraging contributions from local organizations such as the Historical Society, Friends of the Library, and P.T.A. There were raffles of jewelry, an Easter basket, and a quilt made and donated by Naomi Lloyd. Especially valued was Poestenkill School's gift of $146.18 in a penny collection. Joe and Margie's intelligent leadership brought in the required bucks.
And then there's money unseen, but saved. Library volunteers not only furnished the Library, they carefully and expertly painted the entire interior after contractors had prepared walls, again saving the Town thousands of dollars. A score of workers wielded rollers and brushes, pausing only for lunch prepared by yet another cadre of volunteers. Gifts of untold gallons of antique white paint from Country True Value, and painting supplies from Tremont Lumber, added to the savings. With talent and taste - and skill - the volunteers added soft green accents and counter tops to create a handsome interior.
The truth for some folks might have been, "It's all about money." But Library workers were steadfast in the goal they worked toward: To offer the Poestenkill community a library they could be proud of.
Poestenkill Library's dedicated workers were old hands at solving tough problems. When it came to turning an old home into a library, they simply brought their talents to a new location.
Major changes in 1993 caused a small and devoted group of Library volunteers suddenly to assume responsibility for offering Poestenkill residents the best library service they could muster. New York State Education Law had just mandated that, in order to receive public funds, libraries must conform to stringent new requirements. Hard work by the new Board resulted in upgrading Poestenkill's status from a Reading Center to becoming chartered by the State of New York as a Library in 1996.
Just as the Boy Scouts had moved 13,000 books to their new home, so the hard working Trustees and staff brought their concern for excellence across the street to a new location. This continuity was woven through all subsequent efforts.
Continuity of programming was simpler. A scrapbook of Library happenings gives evidence that several "traditions" predate the opening of the new facility. Many of these continued unabated, but such routine events need to be kept fresh and vital.
Here are a couple of examples - Market Day, for one. A September 1999 notice invites the public to Market Day on the Town Hall lawn. Two years later the new Town Green was the locale. Now a tradition, Market Day is a fundraiser that works in its new location because of continuous innovation and community support.
A vital and ongoing policy is the Library's high regard for children. Virginia Plant, director for 23 years before her retirement in 1993, exemplified this theme. Pre-school Story Hour, for instance, has long been a hallowed tradition. Here is Marjorie Soule reading to children at the Library in the 1970s, and a 1999 session of Pre-school Story Hour with Kathy Jones. What a victory for Continuity when Kathy's Story Hour resumed at the Library's new location. Another tradition had moved across the street.
Finally, the big, bright, beautiful children's room, which some call the Library's "crown jewel," says it loud and clear: "Children are welcome here"!
Rebecca Everett reminds us of a very special kind of continuity - the friendships that transcend location, and that libraries often foster. This friendship may begin at Pre-school Story Hour, with both kids and moms. Perhaps in volunteer committees. Now, in 2011, the new friends, from the Library's two new 1998 Book Groups, are old friends.
When Poestenkill's Town Board announced its intention to purchase the former Dwyer house, to convert it to a new home for the crowded Town Library, public support by no means followed. Regardless of their opinion, however, folks were involved.
Town Supervisor Tom Hart believed that "A third of the Town supports the idea, a third opposes it, and a third just doesn't care."
Well, the third who cared, cared vehemently! Scenting a move from the crowded Town Hall basement (where, reportedly, the words most uttered were, "Excuse me,") the True Believers swung into action. Community involvement was intense, and vital.
New Library enthusiasts surfaced, attended Town Board meetings, some brought their children. They offered convincing points of view on behalf of all readers, school kids, and the sacred idea of libraries. They talked to friends and neighbors, wrote letters to the Editor and to Board members and, eventually, to everyone in Town.
Here we quote Niagara Mohawk's Community Renaissance award text:
Poestenkill community leaders were determined in their creativity, energy, and new found grasp of building basics to create a library that was a true community asset... They developed a plan, encouraged community participation, and went to work.
... Volunteer doctors and contractors, high school students and CEOs, housewives and artists and clerks and professors provided painstaking labor spending hundreds of hours [cutting brush, demolishing the building's dilapidated interior], designing, decorating, painting the entire interior, finishing, and cabinet-making. Welcoming gardens were planted. One young man received an Eagle Scout award for creating a computer plan to move 13,000 volumes from the old Library to precise locations in the new facility. He and his fellow Scouts efficiently completed the operation in one day.
Throughout the project, publicity never waned Supporters always featured the Library's value to the community as a whole and the involvement of the community as necessary to its successful renovation and reuse. And successful they have been.
When the Town Board required the Library to finance interior furnishings, the community responded energetically. A six-foot painted plywood "Byron the Bookworm," standing on Town Hall lawn, formed a thermometer showing generous donations of an involved community.
Through their twin contributions of financial gifts and active work, significant involvement of Library well-wishers became clear. Success accelerated that support.
Friends of Poestenkill Library is one unfailing source of community support. The Library is fortunate to have a happy relationship between Friends of the Library and the Library's staff and Trustees. Friends of the Library is a stable corps of workers and idea folks from the community who are able each year to add substantial amounts to the Library budget. They successfully involve a great many community members with three well-advertised seasonal fundraisers each year.
Visit today's spring or fall Market Day to see the Town Green, adjacent to the Library, literally covered with browsers and buyers and the merchandise they have contributed. Thousands of used books, attic treasures, plants and puzzles, and the Library porch filled with tempting baked goods which Karen Cardamone solicits from the Town's great cooks.
And throughout December, read the dedications posted at the Library that indicate generous support of the Friends' annual "Holiday Lights" appeal that, again, generously supports the Library. Marcia Hopple's efficient leadership maintains the success of that unique holiday event, and assures that the Library will be a brilliantly lighted holiday beacon in the center of town.
And as a non-fundraiser, each July Fourth, Friends of the Library invite the entire community to celebrate our wonderful old Poestenkill Flag. Local folks fill the Town Green with music, games, and patriotism - plus watermelon and lemonade.
Friends of the Library fund routine needs such as cleaning, and such special requests as updating encyclopedia, and offering annual scholarships. Their addition to the Library's budget is significant and much appreciated. Best of all, they really enjoy working together.
Of course community support needs direction. So it has been, and continues to be, necessary at times for the Library Board of Trustees to make an active effort to educate - to woo the community. By its second year of operation so many routine and special costs had accrued that Trustees found it prudent to issue a referendum asking voters to increase the Town's annual allocation to the Library. The referendum was defeated in 2002. Trustees floated the referendum again in 2003. But this time they conducted an active outreach and education program to specify the need and to document what a relatively small effect an increased allocation would have on residents. Still, opinions surfaced such as this, expressed in The Record's “Sound Off” column, "Well, I see the Library people are at it again. They want to double our taxes..." Despite such continued opposition, however, the referendum passed in 2003.
Poestenkill's Boy Scout Troop 528 is a perfect example of community involvement. Led by Doug Scott and Chuck Golden, the Scouts present an impressive honor guard at the July Fourth celebration of our special Poestenkill Flag. Michael Ferguson's strategy for moving library books was impressive. The Scouts have cheerfully and carefully moved thousands of used books on Market Day. Andrew Golden earned his Eagle Scout designation by planning and constructing a much-needed storage shed for the Library. Years before, Ray Gardner qualified by building essential bookshelves. The Scouts are available, and appreciated.
Other organizations have been generous, too. For example, the Poestenkill Business Association has donated money specifically for gardens, as well as unspecified moneys. PBA member and cabinet maker Michael Kronau created handsome bookshelves. And the organization subsidized the generous donation of work by their member, volunteer and professional contractor Tim Hoffay, who totally rebuilt the Library's deteriorated porch floor.
Community support of Poestenkill Library has always been vital to its operation. Especially during the 1999-2001 transition, every single instance of assistance was deeply appreciated. Poestenkill Library continues to need the support of its friendly community, and encourages it in every way possible.
Each year, when volunteers are honored by Library Trustees at a lively brunch, Library Director Margie Morris tells them earnestly, "We couldn't do it without you."
As a former volunteer she knows the lure of a library for its intrinsic worth - you just feel like helping. But then the commitment becomes more focused, for that abstract idea of a library's importance must be kept fresh, alive, and relevant to the community. That's just what Margie does for Poestenkill Library, and specifically in her work with volunteers.
Stories of "Library Volunteers through the Years" should fill a book. Each volunteer is remembered fondly, appreciatively. But as an example of this great well of devotion to duty, we must cite a few of those faithful folks who help keep this very special place so friendly, helpful, and accessible to the community.
Still gung-ho after four decades, Sue McLaren has a long history of being truly indispensable. As a volunteer she has done every job in the Library, held every office, and won innumerable honors. Through several decades her leadership has been crucial in helping us over rough spots in the road. As a young mother she led the P.T.A. group that decided the Town needed a public library. Today's Poestenkill Library is its direct descendant.
Gene McLaren performs a vital and ongoing Library function, as accountant and financial advisor to the Board of Trustees. And with his photographic skills he has documented countless Library events. Gene lends his expertise to a great many other projects. For more years than we know, the McLarens have been"long-haul" Library workers.
Like Sue, Virginia Plant was another of those P.T.A. mothers back in the 1960s who were committed to a library. Virginia's dedication led her to a long career as Poestenkill Library director although, technically, her volunteer status ended when the Town granted her a stipend. For 23 years she and her husband, Ken, kept the Library open eight hours every week. In 1993 those faithful octogenarians retired.
Dorothea Fisher's original commitment as a volunteer, back in 1979, was to maintain order among the children's books. As a teacher of young children, she was undaunted. Then, in 1994, when New York State required us to update all services, Dorothea brought intelligent dedication to the Library Board. Throughout the renovation and move to the new Library we benefited enormously from the strong leadership of Dorothea and Sue. Both of these women have received Upper Hudson Library System's coveted "Trustee of the Year'' award.
Mary Dzembo also brought public school work experience to her job at the Library. Efficiently and professionally, she prepares an endless stream of new books for shelving. She adds category and identity to their spines, then covers them in plastic. Modestly, cheerfully, for many many years. What would we do without her?
Eva Gemmill was honored by Upper Hudson Library System as Advocate of the Year for her successful efforts to publicize Poestenkill Library's events and particularly its progress toward moving. She also assisted in fundraising, and served two terms on the new Board which brought the Library to charter.
Margie Morris was a stay-at-home mom who took her daughter and two other children to the Library every Tuesday morning. Margie soon became a key player, especially throughout the volatile '90s when she served as assistant director. Now, no longer a volunteer, Margie's job as Library Director for the past twelve years is varied and demanding. In addition, she has been secretary to Upper Hudson's Directors' Association and takes minutes at their monthly meetings. Still, she takes time to train a great many volunteers - young folks as well as adults. Margie's daughter, Laura Morris, with an orderly librarian's mind like her mother, belonged to a cadre of young volunteers who, incredibly quickly, discerned how a library works and performed as an adult volunteer.
Just such a natural-born librarian was Ann Dobert. As a sixth grader she told her mother she wanted to work in a library. At their local library, the answer to Annie's offer was,"Sorry." Another library gave the same age-based rejection. Finally, in Poestenkill, Annie recalls with delight Margie's immediate response to her offer to work - "Of course." Now a full-time math teacher, Annie still works part-time at the Library and plans all library programs.
Sometimes adult volunteers, too, simply walk in and ask if they can help. Priscilla Fairbank and Rachel Smith are examples of new residents who became volunteers as part of getting acquainted. Priscilla's kids, now adults, enjoyed the Library, too. Through the years Priscilla has lent her intelligent presence to the Library in so many ways. She started the current Friends of Poestenkill Library, and went on to Library Board deliberations. She also chaired countless book sales. And Rachel Smith did indeed make many friends and enjoy her volunteer work. And in January 1998, as president of Friends of the Library, she started "Talk About Books." Both the noontime and evening versions of "Talk About Books" continue today.
Tom and Betty Zemanick can verify the number and variety of jobs done by volunteers. Tom performs fine carpentry and cabinet work, paints, cuts watermelon on July 4th and hangs our historic flag, solves electrical glitches and helps to winterize the gardens. Betty assists the Librarian each week, co-chairs Friends of the Library, works in tandem with Tom, and fills in wherever there's a need. Always cheerfully.
Of all our volunteers, surely the Trustees get high marks. Since Virginia and Ken Plant's retirement in 1993, the Library's Board of Trustees has been responsible for the Library's life - nourishing it, monitoring it, planning ahead, charting new courses to assure compliance with stringent New York State law, to maintain its excellence and keep its essential character. LouAnne Lundgren is president of this vital group. Throughout her tenure she has been an immensely talented leader. In addition, she has just completed her third year as president of Upper Hudson Library System's Board. LouAnne continues as a UHLS Board member, representing small libraries like Poestenkill. She gives us a voice. Both LouAnne and Margie emphasize the sustained strengths of Poestenkill's Board, in particular their fiscal responsibility as they constantly seek sources of savings, as well as available income from grants. LouAnne says that "Occasionally the Board seeks outside assistance to make sure they're on the right track. Recently a professional financial consultant looked at our books, our budget, annual reports. Asked for suggestions, he reported, “There's no area to cut - you guys are lean.”
From the Library's beginning back in 1964, Poestenkill Library's volunteers have brought wonderful, irreplaceable diversity of talents and abilities. And they have taken part in enormous changes. Literally, the Library depends upon its volunteers. And they respond, generously, intelligently.
On April 30, 2011 we celebrated a decade of Poestenkill Library serving the community from its new home.
We also celebrated ten years when staff, trustees and volunteers have sustained unrelenting efforts toward excellence. The building is uniquely attractive and well maintained; personnel are especially pleasant and helpful; an appropriate collection of books and other library material is available for all ages. Although fiction for all ages has by far the greatest circulation, special attention is paid to certain areas. The Young Adult collection, for example, with its outstanding, ever-growing selection of YA fiction and non-fiction, and a new bookcase of the popular Graphic Novels for Young Adults.
A pleasant sunny room houses an excellent collection of non-fiction, and more non-fiction in special categories may be found in adjacent locations. The Parenting collection, for example, is comprehensive in areas of special-needs children. Craft and recipe titles are popular, as are collections of classics and biographies.
New books, in all categories, appear continually. They can be found in a special bookcase in the center of the Adult Fiction room.
Perhaps the Children's Room holds the greatest collection of all. This "crown jewel" of Poestenkill Library, even in the crowded days in Town Hall basement, contained a remarkable number of fiction and non-fiction titles. Now, space makes it possible to display books and locate them appropriately for access by toddlers and older children.
An especially cozy little reading nook houses a large and growing collection of magazines. Great variety - including back issues. Some examples: Adirondack Life, Vogue, Road & Track, AAA Travel Guides, and the Historical Society's Poest Script. Find your favorite, or expand your world with new publications that await.
Inter-library Loan is one of the excellent ways in which the Upper Hudson Library System continues to help Poestenkill Library. UHLS coordinates programs and activities to assist and complement the resources and efforts of its 29 member libraries. UHLS manages the automation system (catalog of materials) and the delivery system for all of its member libraries.
Inter-Library Loan is a fine opportunity for our patrons to borrow books from Upper Hudson's 28 other libraries in Rensselaer and Albany counties. (This is possible because the collections of all UHLS libraries are linked to Upper Hudson computers.) Every day a UHLS courier truck delivers books our patrons have requested, and picks up library materials that other Upper Hudson libraries have requested from Poestenkill. Ten years ago the ratio - 1258 borrowed to 1203 loaned - was about even. By 2010 the ratio had changed drastically: 4621 borrowed, to 8105 loaned! Obviously, our collection is valued beyond Poestenkill!
But the life of Poestenkill Library offers far more than checking books out and in.
They seize opportunities for service to the community above and beyond the conventional, when new challenges pop up. Such as the fabulous offer that confronted new Board President LouAnne Lundgren in 2002.
The Ives family donated a unique treasure, an entirely handmade American flag, 20x24 feet, sewn by an ancestor about 1863 (35 stars). For many years it was flown every Fourth of July at the Ives Hotel, in the Poestenkill hamlet of Barberville. The three living descendants of Chloe Ives, the flag's seamstress, wished the flag to remain in Poestenkill. Sensitive to the honor - and the value - an appraisal ensued, then a helpful chat with the Smithsonian Institution's flag expert. "You can store it away in the archives," she said. "Or you can display it proudly and judiciously for the community to enjoy." Deliberations ensued. LouAnne and the Board chose the latter way. Every July Fourth our wonderful "Poestenkill Flag" is displayed, "proudly and judiciously," on the Library porch, and the community is invited to celebrate with us.
The contributions of Joe and Jason Morris, two of the Library's volunteer professionals, brought us from the 19th to the 21st century. Joe created the first website poestenkilllibrary.org, "Don't forget the three ells," he reminded us. Then his son, Jason, took over as webmaster and has maintained the site for the past several years. As one of our important windows on the world, the website advertises programs and makes us look good. Log on to poestenkilllibrary.org for great news and fine photos. It also provides access to the entire collections of Upper Hudson's 29 libraries. The continued commitment of these professionals, Joe and Jason Morris, to the Library's technical problems is much appreciated.
When the Town removed a barn and shed from the Dwyer property it cleared the way for a spacious Town Green. Keith Hammond and his kids smoothed the area and planted grass. Then, with the Town's permission, avid gardeners like Christa Caron, Rebecca Everett, and Eve Redington created splendid perennial gardens that enhance the Library's appearance. Contributions of mulch from Valente Lumber and plant materials from Patroon Nursery were helpful. Ongoing care of the gardens is provided by volunteers who enjoy gardening. One of those volunteers, Dwight Smith, recalls that, "Working for the Library wasn't work; it was pure pleasure."
Now the Town Green is a busy place. Friends of the Library depend upon it for their spring and fall Market Days. The Historical Society brings Music on the Green to a large family audience for their June meetings. The Library's July Fourth celebration of the "Poestenkill Flag" is another popular family occasion on the Green. Summer vacations brings hundreds of kids, delighted with programs on the Green such as the zany juggler/clown, Professor Runamuck.
One of the trees on the Town Green, next to Plank Road, was a white peach. Generations of young passers-by had enjoyed its juicy fruit but, after a long life, it simply died. At an Arbor Day ceremony in 2004 a replacement was planted. It flourished, and now some of its white peaches end up in pies and jam for Market Day's Bake Sale.
A popular series of programs featured local authors. Surely the most successful of those programs was based on a local Civil War soldier, Marcus Peck. Lengthy correspondence between Peck and his large and loving family exists and, with added commentary, was turned into a booklet by the Historical Society. To a full house at the Lutheran Church, actors read from the booklet. Expertly directed by Joan Hayes, the program included Civil War music and war memorabilia, all enthusiastically received.
At one point a large and beautiful display of quilts covered many walls of the Library, lending a special warmth. The artistry and diversity of the quitters was impressive, receiving close attention and many compliments.
The lighted exhibit case in the foyer offers yet another opportunity for creativity, and continues to hold a great many provocative, admirable, timely, ingenious displays. Harley memorabilia, fossils, antique sewing equipment, canning jars and coffee pots, Feather Christmas Trees, antique mustard pots, a bottle collection, race-track artifacts - an endless variety, lighted and artistically arranged, at present by Alice Castagnier.
In 2009 the Trustees created the position of Program Coordinator, and appointed Ann Dobert to the job. She has offered many successful programs such as "Minute-to Win-It"; pizza and wing tasting with food donated by local restaurants; Dr. Seuss's birthday party; gingerbread houses; and ice cream making. Programming opportunities will be expanded for all ages. Summer Reading, normally enjoyed by young patrons, in 2010 became a successful on-line program for all ages, and is scheduled again for 2011.
Once upon a time "library'' meant books. Just books. Today's libraries, including Poestenkill’s, offer vast collections of CDs, audio books, and ebooks that patrons can download at home. Poestenkill's collection is very well used, especially by patrons who listen to books during distance driving. In addition, requests for these media are filled through Upper Hudson's daily InterLibrary Loan service.
A book titled Hand Down Unharmednicely describes one's environmental stewardship responsibilities - i.e. do not destroy. But Poestenkill Library goes way beyond that prohibitive slogan, "hand down unharmed." Their trajectory is, literally, onward and upward. Of course they respond in a friendly manner to traditional library concepts of their patrons. But they also incorporate contemporary expectations of a new generation of patrons. This is the pioneering path of Poestenkill Library's Director and its Board of Trustees.
You never know "What's Next?" But you can bet it will be responsible, well considered, and Onward and Upward.
Library Director Margie Morris insists on an important last word for our ten-year story. She says, very earnestly, "We have wonderful patrons!"
"They're kind and helpful," she adds, "and patient. For example, when little kids want to stamp the date in their books, they smile and wait patiently."
Then, laughing at the recollection, she describes a Saturday morning when a line of patrons chatted cheerfully as the librarian checked out their weekend books the slow old-fashioned way -- while the nearby computer sat dark and silent. Frantic trouble shooters at UHLS, seeking the source of unresponsive computers at their 29 libraries, found that a squirrel had gnawed through the main service cable. Surely an opportunity for patience!
Margie thanks patrons for their patience and good humor.
Good News - Two significant Library happenings in April 2011!
From their 29 member libraries in Rensselaer and Albany Counties, Upper Hudson Library System chose Friends of Poestenkill Library for their "Volunteers of the Year'' award. In Margie's letter of support to the UHLS committee, she said the Friends "raise the money to help make ends meet." UHLS will present the "Volunteers of the Year'' award to Friends of Poestenkill Library at their 50th Annual Dinner in June.
And long-time Library supporter Alma Clement announced an annual scholarship for a Library patron in memory of her husband, Leo. Many folks recall Leo, a friendly person, avid reader, Master Gardener who raised flats of tomato plants for Market Day. It is gratifying to see the Clement's smiling, helpful daughter, Joan Hayes, working at the front desk, and immersed in Library affairs. You set a good example, Alma. What a generous way to remember Leo.
Good news just keeps happening!
"So looking forward to being embraced by this space!"
Scores and scores of such lively compliments filled the Guest Book. Impressions ranged from "Better than the last one" to a full page of a happy family's faith in the new facility. Here are just a few First Impressions of Poestenkill Library's new home.
Two town historians and a librarian from neighboring towns appreciated the "Excellent use of an old home." One called it "Warm, welcoming, functional and homey," and the librarian "Loved the spots to sit and browse."
An architectural historian wrote, "I remember when I first saw this house. I felt I was in a jungle, there were so many vines. What a wonderful transformation! A tribute to the vision of a lot of residents."
And from an architect in a neighboring town: "Very nice facility. It has a pleasant country feel."
Most unusual were our very welcome overseas visitors - no doubt guests of local residents. "Congratulations on the really warm atmosphere," wrote Reka from Romania. Stephano from Italy "likes this library very much." Ann from Switzerland wrote of its "Welcoming ambiance." And Chunglu, a citizen of China, noted, "Such an enticing library makes a stranger wish he lived in Poestenkill."