Colonie Town Library Director Evelyn Neale stands in the library’s new lobby.
COLONIE — A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Monday, Sept. 16 to celebrate the completion of the first phase of a sweeping, $3 million renovation project at the 40-year-old William K. Sanford Town Library.
The $2 million Phase 1 consisted of a new entranceway, new bathrooms, a new teen room, new carpeting, a new fire safety system and updated data and technology systems, said Evelyn Neale, the library director.
Phase II, which kicked off as the Phase I ribbon was cut, includes moving the children’s room to the back of the library where there will be a new exit to an outdoor play space, a new youth services bathroom and a new youth services meeting room.
Phase III will include a new roof and Phase IV will focus on the mechanical systems.
“It is so awesome to have such a positive impact on the community,” she said. “The library is for everyone and to be able to make improvements just makes me feel great.”
The library sees some 20,000 visitors a month and that number will do nothing but increase as the facility is updated to meet the needs of today. While people do still come and check out books — there are 30,000 card carrying members – that is no longer the library’s sole purpose.
Instead, todays libraries offer downloadable books and magazine, educational programming, tech training, early literacy, financial literacy, digital literacy and a host of other community based programs.
“They say the library is the third place of any community, the community center, and this library is definitely that,” she Neale said.
The “first place” being the home and the “second place” being work.
Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, who grew up in Colonie secured two $500,000 grants for the renovation work.
“Growing up in the Town of Colonie, I used this library, and my children used this library and when we were thinking about where we could put the most money and do the most good for the town, it had to be the library,” he said. “We have 83,000 people in the town, it’s a big place, and if there is one facility everyone uses it is the town library.”
Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Albany, who also secured grant money for the project, said anyone looking to buy a house in an unfamiliar community should check out the library first.
“The library is the key to any community,” he said. “It is the key for wealthy people and poor people. It is the great equalizer.”
All told, after grants from the two state legislators and from the state Library Construction Fund, and $30,000 raised by the Friends of the Library, the town will need to come up with about half of the total $3 million price tag. That money was and is allocated in the budget over a number of years, said Supervisor Paula Mahan.
“This is a great day. We have been waiting a long time for this,” Mahan said at the ceremony. Everyone in this town loves the library, it has been voted No. 1 in the Capital District I don’t know how many times and it still has that same hometown feeling to it and it still offers so much to everyone from our seniors to our youth.”
The library was open through the entirety of Phase I, which broke ground late last year, and it will remain open through the remaining phases.