Officials at the front entrance of the Colonie library for a ceremonial ground breaking. Jim Franco / Spotlight News
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COLONIE — The $4 million renovation project at the William K. Sanford Library will take a major step forward when work starts on the front entrance.
The existing vestibule will get extended and the doors moved to allow more room for programs and events inside the library and it will include two sets of sliding glass doors so it is more accommodating for the handicapped.
While work out front is going on, patrons are asked to use the Stedman entrance around the right side of the 40-year-old library on Albany Shaker Road.
“We are about halfway through Phase I, and Phase II should start at the beginning of next year,” said Evelyn Neale, the library director, at a ceremonial groundbreaking in Tuesday, Sept. 11.
About every aspect of the library is getting at least a touch of renovation including the mechanicals like heating and air condition and structural components like the roof. The individual sections will get re-organized, for example, rooms dedicated to youth services will move to the back of the library and those geared more for adults, which are more popular, will move to the front.
The town is coming up with $3 million and the remaining $1 million was secured by Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie.
“For me, a virtual lifelong town resident, this was a great opportunity to give back to the community,” Steck said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “This is one of the greatest facility in the town. I used it as a child, I used it as a college student. My kids are the same way. It does a great job with elementary students and high school students and even with the materials college students use when they want to get some work done in a quiet place away from their particular university.
“I could not think of a more appropriate place for funding to go.”
The money is from the state Municipal Facilities Program and is bonded at the state level. First the proposal goes to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and if approved it goes to the state Dormitory Authority, which supervises state funded construction.
For the first years of Supervisor Paula Mahan’s tenure the focus was on straightening the budget and fiscal issues. Now, she said, there is money for such things as renovating the library.
“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to make the library better for all patrons,” she said.
Neale, Steck and Mahan were all asked why libraries are still important in the age of smartphones and Google.
Steck: “With the incredibly diffuse media and the internet, there is a lack of a common frame of reference but when people come to the library, and are able to look at the magazines or read some of the books it is a way to bring back that common frame of reference that, I think, we lost. Sometimes it is hard to talk to people about what really is a fact when there is no common frame of reference.”
Mahan: “Little kids come to our programs and they come to the teen programs and then again as adults and seniors. Technology is great, but there is nothing like human interaction and being in a place where you can browse around or and if you are working on something you can sit in a quiet place. I grew up with libraries and this is where we did all our work.”
Neale: “Libraries are more important than ever. We are tech support, we are where the training takes place and we are available to all ages. Everyone who walks in the door has a different need, whether it is understanding the diagnosis you just got from your doctor or learning how to use your new cell phone or tablet or learning how to download our free material. We are always the place where people come for information.”