Zimmer opens a new chapter: She’ll leave Rensselaerville’s library to direct Cobleskill’s

Kimberly Graff Zimmer

Kimberly Graff Zimmer

RENSSELAERVILLE — Kimberly Graff Zimmer, who has directed the Rensselaerville Library for nine years, is a community builder.

Earlier this month, for example, she spoke to the Rensselaerville Town Board about what the library could do to help people fill out federal census forms online. She also spoke about a Halloween celebration the library would host with the fire company.

And she said the library is continuing its conversations — started with the Carey Institute for Global Good — on “what it is to be an American” and that her goal is to identify common issues or concerns in the community to “create an action list we can work toward.” One question she says she often hears is: How can we age in place?

Zimmer said the library would like to work with the town board to make Rensselaerville “a better place to be.”

The library announced on Tuesday that Zimmer is leaving to become the director of the Community Library in Cobleskill.

Zimmer will begin her new job in Cobleskill in mid-October. The library there serves a community of 18,000 people in the Cobleskill-Richmondville Central School District. The Rensselaerville Library is chartered to serve Rensselaerville, a town of 1,800 residents.

“It’s going to be a challenge for me,” Zimmer said of her new job. “It’s a new place. Hopefully, I can bring my skills and talents to help them grow.”

She also said that it will be hard to leave her current post. “I love Rensselaerville,” she said. “I love the community. I love the people.” But, she went on, “It was too good an opportunity to just pass off.”

She described visiting the Cobleskill library and standing on the mezzanine, which she said was similar to the Rensselaerville Library. 

“It’s beautiful. It has a good vibe,” Zimmer said.

The Cobleskill library is in an old school building. In 2007, the front half was renovated to be used for the library, she said; now the back half awaits.

“They want to expand the library space to the rest of the building with space for children, for teens, for the community,” said Zimmer. 

She said the grant-writing skills she developed at the Rensselaerville Library will be useful.  The library building in Rensselaerville is now more accessible and energy efficient, “more usable for different populations,” Zimmer said.

“She has worked tirelessly … to transform the library, which is housed in an historic row house in the hamlet of Rensselaerville, into a comfortable, welcoming space and a treasured community resource,” said a release from the Rensselaerville Library, announcing Zimmer’s departure.

Her grant-writing efforts have enabled the library to restore and upgrade facilities, including the addition of a wheelchair accessible front entrance ramp and porch; revitalized the children’s programming areas, and rebuilt backyard garden hardscape.

In addition, Zimmer has improved library services by upgrading the collection; hiring a youth-services coordinator to provide youth programming; receiving grants to bring in nationally sponsored programs; updating library hours to better serve the patrons; and implementing a fine-free policy, which eliminates late fees on overdue items.

During her tenure, Zimmer became involved in many community organizations, leading to several new collaborative events between the library and other organizations in the town.

Zimmer said she developed her community-building skills when she worked on a Long Island Sound study, in an estuary program funded by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Zimmer, who grew up in Gallupville and graduated from Schoharie High School, went to Long Island University and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in environmental science and biology.

As the outreach coordinator for the Long Island Sound study, Zimmer said, “I spent time with community groups, school children, teachers, government leaders to make things happen.”

The estuary program was to clean up Long Island Sound so people from New York and Connecticut could enjoy it.

“You need to listen to what people in a community want, and bring players together to make things happen,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer, who is now 50, was with that program for 15 years. Her life’s course changed after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“In determining my care, I googled stuff online and realized that anyone could be an author online and anything could be published,” said Zimmer. “I worked with the American Cancer Society to help newly diagnosed patients navigate the scary stuff.”

Even now, Zimmer said, after being treated for cancer, “There’s always that cloud hanging over you …."

The importance of knowing how to find reliable information stayed with her.

“At that time, my husband was looking at going back to school to be a librarian,” said Zimmer, and he convinced her it could be a fit for her, too.

“I blame him,” she said with a laugh. “I felt like I needed a change. We both quit our jobs and went back to school full-time.”

In 2009, Zimmer received her master’s degree in library science from Syracuse University and became the director of the Rensselaerville Library in May 2010.

Linda Styer, president of the board of trustees for the Rensselaerville Library, said that the board will be forming a committee to search for a new director.

“Kim’s extraordinary efforts have left a lasting mark on the library and the community as a whole. We will miss Kim greatly, but we know that the position at Cobleskill is an incredible opportunity,” Styer said in a statement. “We wish her well and thank her for her many years of dedicated service to our library.”

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