The Putnam Examiner

PV Library Back Open, But Construction Not Done Yet

We are part of The Trust Project

When Putnam Valley Library director Kathleen McLaughlin came to work on Dec. 18, for the first time in more than a year, the community was more than welcome to join her.

After having severely limited services and essentially shutting its doors to town residents, the Putnam Valley Free Library is finally back open for business. Before, residents could only go online or call to pick up a book, but that was about it.

“The fact that everybody walking through the door is very happy makes for a nice atmosphere,” McLaughlin said. “One lady came in yesterday and said, ‘Am I dreaming’ so people are thrilled to be coming through this door and have full access again.”

Emergency and exhaustive construction halted usual operations at the library in late 2013 when a crack in an upstairs wall raised red flags. On a frigid Saturday morning last weekend, parents with young children were checking out and returning books, and residents, young and old, were using computers.

There was a sense of normalcy after residents and staff faced nothing but unfamiliarity for months and months, but as one construction marathon is finished, another one is now just beginning.

“We’re not done,” library board president Priscilla Keresey, said. “There’s still major things we need to fix and major money we need to raise.”

The actual building won’t be worked on, besides some painting. New changes inside the library have actually made the building, particularly the upstairs, smaller. The teen room is now located where the crafts room used to be in the back of the upstairs and three different staff members share the upstairs office space, where only one staff member used to dwell. All of that is a result of construction taking out a considerable amount of space at the front of the upstairs portion of the library that used to have an office and the teen center.

Now, the focus is currently on two bridges that lead to the library. The wooden pedestrian bridge is unusable for library visitors and the vehicular bridge isn’t sturdy enough for cars to drive over, though pedestrians can walk over it safely. It has yet to be determined which project would be addressed first.

While costs have not been pinpointed, the expense would be in the six figures. Raising that money is now the major prerogative for board trustees.

“We have some serious problems,” board trustee Terry Raskyn said. “And serious problems that can only be fixed with money.”

One major way to get that money is by way of corporate underwriting, Raskyn said, noting she’s sure there are wealthy donors and private companies in the county and surrounding region “who believe in education and believe in literacy and that’s who we are going to turn to for help.”

Raskyn added the board hopes to set up a group like a ‘Friends of the Putnam Valley Library Association,’ which sole goal is to fundraise non-stop, a different organization from the board.

Right now, grants, donations, town and county funding, and money from the Mid-Hudson Library System are how the library offsets expenses. The library has made it easier to give a donation by setting up a PayPal account and residents can go on AmazonSmile to donate money to the library with a portion of their purchase.

Former legislator Sam Oliverio, a lifelong Putnam Valley resident running for supervisor this year, noted the library needs to find concrete alternate funding moving forward. He believes the library connected to a taxing unit like the Mahopac Public Library is hooked to the school district is a smart possibility.

“It can’t stay as an autonomous entity,” Oliverio said. “It is not going to be able to be funded properly.”

The library is still operating on modified hours, opening at noon and closing anywhere between 4 p.m. and 7p.m. depending on the day. Once normal hours start up again, the library will be open for 52 hours a week and open in the morning and close at a later time during the day.

“We are so grateful for everyone’s patience and we welcome all the residents back,” Keresey said on behalf of the board and staff. “We missed you as much as you missed us. We really have.”



We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.