Members of the Schenectady County community broke ground Tuesday on the new Mont Pleasant Public Library Branch.
The new library branch, set to open in early 2019, is being built next to the current building on Crane Street on the site of the old Chubby’s Pizza. The roughly 4,000 square-foot structure is expected to provide more space, additional parking, handicap access and other amenities, creating a modern library and literacy center. Gary Hughes, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature’s Committee on Economic Development and Planning, highlighted the partnerships that made the new branch possible. He says the new branch will be a catalyst for additional development.
“As so many of us know, family literacy can have a dramatic effect on the educational success of our children and the overall health of our community. Our libraries can address this need by offering a place where children, families and adults can come together to check out library materials, read, use computers, do homework and participate in a number of learning and fun programs geared towards reading writing thinking as well as financial and digital literacy,” says Hughes.
The County Legislature supplied more than $1.5 million for the project, roughly half of the projected cost. Schenectady County Public Library Board of Trustees President Carmel Patrick said the Board was charged with raising $700,000.
“Thanks to a tremendous group of donors we exceeded that goal and raised over a million dollars. It became clear that the concept of the library being part of a larger collaboration, one that we began calling the corridor of hope, really resonated with the individuals and foundations we asked for support,” says Patrick.
Also in attendance was state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. The Democrat from the 111th District grew up around the corner from the Mont Pleasant library and says it was a vital part of his childhood.
“My parents were immigrants, this is the place they came to call home. I didn’t speak English until the first grade. But, they came to Mont Pleasant for a reason, it’s a special community. The library was the resource where I learned to read. Without the library I would not have been able to go after the goals I wanted to achieve in life what my parents came here for,” says Santabarbara.
Santabarbara also says a library is more than an educational facility.
“My son lives with autism, doesn’t speak very much but he loves to go to the library too, and that is the best part about libraries, no one is left out, no one is left behind and as the sign says libraries are for everyone,” says Santabarbara.
Once the building at 1032 Crane St. is finished, the current branch is expected to be demolished to provide more parking space.
The library board and staff say they are applying for additional grant funding.
The Schenectady County Public Library has nine branches with a circulation of more than 1 million, according to its 2017 annual report. The Board is expected to vote on the proposed 2019 budget in mid-June.