Our library renewal plan is about investing in our community and in our children

To the Editor:

Someone once told me that public libraries are our window to the world. They give us an opportunity to learn more about our own community and the chance to travel to far-away countries and cultures.

At the Guilderland Public Library, we are excited to say that our window is getting very crowded. We are thrilled about this because it means that so many people in the community have come to recognize all the great things our library has to offer.

It also means that our quarter-century-old building is operating well beyond its capacity. That is why the library board of trustees is asking Guilderland residents to support a bond proposal on May 21 to modernize and reasonably expand our library by 6,400 square feet.

Some might think that, in the digital age, who needs a library?

Well in 1992, before computers and the internet were as ubiquitous as they are today, our library served 76,544 patrons. In 2018, our library served 217,922 patrons, an increase of 185 percent. In 1992, those patrons checked out 132,815 materials. In 2018, they checked out 513,030 materials, an increase of 286 percent.

So, while the Guilderland community has grown and our usage has soared, our building is the same as it was when it was built in 1992, right down to the carpets. There is no room to meet existing programming needs; provide adequate space for children and teens; or accommodate the demand for meeting, study, and reading spaces.

The model of libraries is changing, and our proposed renovation is focusing on changing with it. Free meeting spaces have become one of our biggest selling points. Our meetings rooms are consistently reserved by local groups or being used for free library programs.

The library held very few programs in 1992. In contrast, we offered 775 programs in 2018, which were attended by 23,871 people. Our children’s area was built to accommodate 40, but today we get almost 200 for popular children’s programs. Our young-adult space has seating for seven people and is always crowded.

Our proposed addition and renovation will add study and meeting rooms, increase space 103 percent for teenagers and 38 percent for children. At a time when our children and teens are spending more time communicating to each other through their phones, computers, or video games, we think having updated community spaces just for them can help bring more people together.

As president of the Guilderland Library Board of Trustees, I believe our library renewal plan is about investing in our community and investing in our children. We want to create a space where the whole community feels welcome, from our toddlers to our seniors.

It’s about turning the library into more than just a place for books, but a place for people to gather and meet — a true community center for Guilderland.

So next time you drive by the Guilderland Public Library, think of how people are using the library as their own window to the world and wouldn’t it be nice if that window was just a little less crowded, especially for our younger people. Please vote “yes” on May 21st for the library bond vote.

Bryan Best


Guilderland Library

Board of Trustees

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