LONG WAIT FOR LIBRARY NEARS END

MICHELE MORGAN BOLTON Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: F1

Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Two and a half years after residents voted to build a new home for the East Greenbush Community Library and almost 10 years after determining such a facility was necessary -- the building is close to opening its doors. The dedication and grand opening of the 22,000-square-foot $3.3 million building is set for 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 4.


In addition to a reception, guided tours and refreshments, there will be a 2 p.m. performance by the Poppy Doodle Puppets in ``Adventures in the Kingdom of Wonder.''


Library Director Pat Nonamaker has worn a number of different hats as the project has progressed. While the process has been stimulating, it has also been exhausting.


``I'm just going to relish normalcy,'' Nonamaker said. ``It's been exciting, but we're looking forward to moving, which begins Friday.''


At that time, movers will swoop in and take books and materials, shelf by shelf, from the current space in Town Hall to the new building at the corner of Luther and Michael roads.


``In theory, it all goes smoothly, so we have all confidence it will,'' she said.


For weeks library officials have been training new staff in their soon-to-be-former quarters without an inch of elbow room to spare. Spreading out in a space four times as large will be a joy and a relief, she said.


The library, designed by Troy architects Lepera & Ward, features a unique drive-thru book drop and pick-up along with airy community meeting rooms, a bright, colorful children's room and story hour room, a teen area, computer lab and literacy center.


It will allow for a sizably expanded collection, increased seating, a multitude of additional services and easy parking.


The project's total price tag, at $4.5 million, will cost the average taxpayer with a home assessed at $50,000 about $122 per year, Nonamaker said.


That's $5 less than the original anticipated cost because of increased town property assessments, she said.


Circulation in the active community library has more than tripled -- from 50,000 to about 170,00 -- during its 14 years in the Town Hall office building.


At a time when the town's population increased 9 percent, circulation increased 240 percent, Nonamaker said.


``This just gives us an opportunity to offer a lot more services,'' she said. ``We're busting at the seams to be able to provide more books and get duplicate copies.''


The new facility is also designed to suit the community's needs for at least 20 years.


Other highlights of the new library include:


Seating for more than 60 adults and 30 children, compared with 10 current seats.


19 public computers for adults, including eight in a computer lab designed for group instruction and individual use compared with six currently available public computers.


An audio-visual collection that will grow from 4,000 items to 8,000 items.


A new music collection, books on CD and films on DVD.


An expanded adult book collection from 24,000 items to 46,000 items.


A children's collection growing from 15,000 items to 22,000 items and six children's computers for research, educational games, catalog and Internet use.


Large and small multi-purpose meeting rooms with access to kitchen facilities.


Display cases and lobby wall space for local artisans and collectors.


The 39-acre site was once part of a parcel owned by Theodore Michel.


In 1998 the library bought 10 acres, the Capital District YMCA bought 13 acres and both the library and the YMCA co-owned a third 16-acre parcel which earlier this month was sold to The Eddy, Inc. for senior housing.


The YMCA plans to begin its construction of a 55,000- square-foot fitness facility later this spring.


The library will be closed from Feb. 24 to the grand opening March 4 in order to complete the move. Borrowed materials can be returned to the drive-thru drop box at the new location during that period.