WARRENSBURG Several dozen area residents recently got a glimpse into the future of a gracious little hometown library that’s existed for 110 years with virtually no public support.
During an Open House held Jan. 13 at Richards Library, about 50 people from as far away as Glens Falls and Queensbury took a tour of the local institution, personally experiencing the existing space limitations of the historic main building as well as the new 4000-square-foot addition that has yet to be put into use.
Richards Library, is housed in a compact but grand stone building — considered a fine example of Colonial Revival architecture — that 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 revenues were spent primarily on operating expenses.
For decades, the original endowment yielded interest that paid for operations, but the bulk of the cash reserves in recent years have been spent to pay for heating fuel and other ever-increasing expenses.
Last week’s tour allowed library visitors to see how the library trustees envision the library to better accommodate the public, with a reading lounge, a community room, state-of-the-art audio-video installations, a 10-station public computer center, and more accessible book stacks and storage.
Already, $600,000 has been spent on the expansion project, and completing the work is estimated to cost another $600,000, to provide needed furniture, computers and information technology equipment, carpeting, lighting and other interior construction details.
Facing a budget crisis, the library trustees have proposed converting to public support, which they explained to people visiting the open house last weekend.
The trustees have proposed, as provided for in state law, to establish a $98,100 tax levy on the residents of the Warrensburg School District, which mirrors their service area. A vote on the levy is now set for May, when the annual Warrensburg school budget goes up for a vote.