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Elevator, addition to boost Richards Library's access

Richards Library vice President Paul Gilchrist  and Librarian Sarah Farrar pose with the  elevator recently installed in the library's addition, which is yet to be completed.

Richards Library vice President Paul Gilchrist and Librarian Sarah Farrar pose with the elevator recently installed in the library's addition, which is yet to be completed. Photo by Thom Randall.

— For 111 years, entering Richards Library in Warrensburg has been a chore for those with mobility limitations, with a total of six steps on a narrow sidewalk leading to streetside parking.

Not for much longer, apparently.

In recent weeks, an elevator has been installed in the library’s new addition, which at this point is unfinished.

As soon as this summer, if the pending public funding vote is successful, people with mobility limitations will be able to get out of their vehicles in the new handicapped parking lot, go a short distance into the library’s new dual-door entry, and take the new elevator to any level of the library.

One primary destination in the new library is expected to be the new community room, situated in the lower level of the new 4,000-square feet addition. This room, featuring state-of-the-art audio-video installations, is expected to be a gathering place for various area organizations, library president Susan jennings said this week.

“The library will now be more of a community destination, a welcoming place for all, senior citizens, and experience more universal use,” she said. “Finally, everybody will now have access.”

Of all the buildings in town, the elementary and high schools are the only facilities that offer barrier-free access to those with mobility limitations — except for the Warrensburgh Masonic Temple, which has a chairlift, Jennings said.

The elevator was partially funded by a state Education Department matching grant. It was installed by Northern Lifts of Bolton Landing.

Richards Library, housed in a compact but grand stone building, has been a landmark in Warrensburg since 1901.

A large addition was built onto it about six years ago, doubling its floorspace while preserving its historic architecture.

But the expansion project was stalled soon after the building was erected because the library ‘s endowment, which once yielded enough interest to cover a portion of the operating expenses, dwindled in recent years, particularly in the recent recession.

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