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By Lacey Gardner

Dear friends of Belfast Public Library: It’s time to bridge the accessibility gap and update our space

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Capital project underway to make improvments

From the Belfast Public Library,

Imagine a library that not only preserves its rich historical legacy but also embraces the needs of our community. The Belfast Public Library’s Board of Trustees has long envisioned improvements to the library’s space in order to better serve. By constructing a modern addition while maintaining the architectural integrity of our beloved 1914 building, with your support, the Belfast Public Library can create an enduring and sustainable institution that will be viable, vital, and visible for years to come.  

Currently, our library faces serious limitations. Lack of ADA compliance restricts entry and maneuverability within the building. Patrons who are disabled, elderly, or injured have to call and have materials brought out to them. A lack of accessibility has been a real problem for patrons. Sheree Gielow, former Trustee, shares this testimonial:  “My brother, who spent half of his life in a wheelchair, once said his heart ached when he could no longer go inside the library.  As a retired special education teacher and supporter of the elderly, this is a burning issue for me.”

  

An additional concern is that the library’s current space is inadequate. The main building’s cramped quarters hamper easy navigation, discouraging exploration, engagement, and community gatherings. Further, the children’s library, housed in a cinder block residential building next door, requires substantial maintenance and is not a permanent solution. A patron observed the following in a forum at the library: “This building is special for its history, architecture, and presence in the community — but it is hard to see how a modern active community-based center can be created here due to accessibility and cramped quarters.”  

It’s time to bridge the accessibility gap and update our space to ensure that everyone can fully participate in the library’s offerings. We envision a library that encourages families to browse books together, offers varied programming, and serves as a hub for community connection. With your support, we can modify the library’s footprint, creating more space for various group sizes and activities, cozy reading and meeting areas, and updated technology. The Board of Trustees has conducted extensive research, planning, and conversations with former library and town board members, as well as community members, and we are ready to carry their vision forward.

To achieve our goal, we are actively seeking grant funding. We have already been awarded $125,000 in State Library Construction Aid, anticipate $350,000 more, and are in phase two of consideration for sizable funding through Congressionally Directed Spending grants. By working closely with the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO), a local firm has designed an architecturally stunning addition that seamlessly blends with the historical main street. This project will not only transform the physical infrastructure but also revolutionize the way our community interacts with the library.

The impact of this project will be far-reaching. Our library serves an area of 80 square miles and 4,000 citizens. By enhancing our physical space, we can streamline operations, eliminate the need for two circulation desks, and offer expanded hours for the benefit of the entire community.

Visit our website to donate today!!!

Join us in this transformative journey. With the expertise of Southern Tier Library System and their experienced Executive Director Brian Hildreth, who has guided numerous libraries in Western NY through successful capital projects, we are well-equipped to turn our vision into reality. Let’s build a library that not only honors our past but propels us into the future. Together, we can create a library that will serve as a beacon of knowledge, inspiration, and community pride for generations to come.

Please consider a donation to the Belfast Public Library with checks payable to Belfast Public Library,75 Main Street, Belfast, NY 14711. Digital payments will be available starting in October at the library website. Donor recognition will be included in the building project and a virtual donor wall will appear on the library webpage that will include donations under $100.000.

Thank you for your support of the Belfast Public Library!  

Don’t miss the Giant Food Mart Labor Day Sale!!!

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