Menands Library

My first attempt to visit, on my way to the Watervliet Library, was a failure, because their hours are, in library jargon, “wackadoodle”.  I had glanced quickly at their schedule, saw they were open until 8, and just assumed they would be open at 3.  Nope.  They were open 5-8 that day.

Monday 12:00PM – 8:00PM
Tuesday 5:00PM – 8:00PM
Wednesday 12:00PM – 8:00PM
Thursday 5:00PM – 8:00PM
Friday 12:00PM – 5:00PM
Saturday 10:00AM – 1:00PM
Sunday Closed.

Lay-people may wonder how odd library hours come to be. They are often caused by having only one employee and a non-existant budget, so the hours need to work around meals, perhaps another job, and other factors.  Then sometimes the hours get fixed in place, and need a lot of convincing to make them change.

So I went on a Saturday with my daughter.

The library is tucked away on a side street, with a good-sized parking lot (about 10 spots). There might be a side entrance, but the front entrance is not accessible.  My overall impression is the place is cozy, clean and welcoming. Several families were there, playing, reading and coloring.

The library is all one room, there didn’t seem to be any separate program space or tutor rooms. The children’s area has a play area and tables for activities, and there is a table in the nonfiction area for  small meetings.  I think I would turn the couch behind the computers around to face the shelves (I personally would feel uncomfortable having someone sitting behind me while I’m on the computer.). There is a nice office chair in the teen area, making it easier to browse the lower shelves.

The non-fiction collection could use an influx of new items.  The video collection is robust, and my daughter found several tv show sets she wanted to check out.  The collection was well-tended.  The books on the bottom shelves are sideways to make the spine labels easier to read, not because there’s not enough room for them to be upright.

All in all, a nice little library, one that probably could use more funding.

Jane is visiting all 36 locations of the Upper Hudson Library System (see introduction)



Watervliet Public Library

The Watervliet (pronounced “water-vill-eet”) library is in the same building as the city’s senior center.  It had a massive renovation in 2016.


There’s a large bell in the lobby.  I learned from my mistake from the Guilderland library (will anybody ever comment on why there’s a cow in their lobby??) and read the plaque.


September 28, 2017

Altamont Library

I usually question the use of words like “charming” and “quaint” when talking about libraries, since those are often used like real estate euphemisms for “cramped” or “needs work”, but in the case of the Altamont Library, tucked into an old train station, the charm is real.  It could easily be on an episode of HGTV’s Tiny Houses.  Every corner and nook is utilized and surrounded by attractive touches, giving the illusion of a much larger space.  It was a delightful palate-cleanser after the last library I visited.

I love the area, near the beautiful Indian Ladder Trail, and my favorite apple orchard, Indian Ladder Farms.  So when we were in the area for apple picking on a hot day, I convinced the family to make a few detours (here and Voorheesville, which is my next blog).


North Greenbush Library

The North Greenbush Library covers the township of North Greenbush and is located in Wynantskill, Southeast of Troy.

When I visited the Troy libraries, I saw that they were struggling with buildings in need of renovation and repair, but had staff who curated and cared for the collection in spite of the awkward spaces.  The North Greenbush Library… I am trying to find the right words so I don’t hurt feelings.

September 7, 2017

 Troy Public Library

This is not the entrance.  

Neither is this.

The building I had always assumed was the Troy library is not, in fact, the library.  This was after getting lost just trying to park.  “You have reached your destination” said Siri as I drove under Russel Sage College.  Um, no.  (Rte 2 goes under Second Street).  The giant white building is the court house, and the building next to that is the Supreme Court law library… then you have the Troy Public Library.  This massive old building (well, American old, built in 1897) is built in an oversized, opulent style,  with marble stairs, stained glass windows and roman pillars.  A true temple of knowledge.  It has that faint “old building” smell familiar in museums and used book shops.  It is full of awkward little nooks and crannies, interesting to explore, but not fully accessible.  While historical buildings are definitely worth preserving and sharing with the public, trying to run a modern library in one is a logistical nightmare.  The library director has had to fight to get an elevator installed, and there is so much more that needs to be done, to keep the building from falling apart, to make spaces for all the things that a library does now that never occurred to the builders, from computer labs to event stages.  Doors are left open to allow air flow through the building, which makes me wonder what this is like in the winter.


August 28, 2017

Castleton Public Library

I took a long drive down a winding, unlined road, questioning Siri’s navigational skills, to find the village of Castleton-on-Hudson.  I found the charming red building at the bottom of a steep hill.

The library is part of the  village hall.  The front door is not accessible, but the back door is.  I commented to the director that the back hall could be signposted  a little bit better.  Working with the town in a shared space is somewhat difficult (as is relying on their help, I can attest to that).

The library is one long room in the building, but recent improvements have made best use of the space.


August 18, 2017

 East Greenbush Community Library

Sometimes it’s hard not to be jealous.  To be held up against something and found wanting is very hard, even when it’s an “apples and oranges” thing.  I’ve explained to my library board that we’re a Stewart’s Shop, and this library is Target, and there’s nothing wrong with being either until you demand that Stewarts starts carrying furniture.  But I digress.  The East Greenbush Library is a special district library that covers a sprawling township with no real center.  They are next to the Greenbush YMCA, and the night I visited they were hosting a farmer’s market in the parking lot between their buildings.

 Fancy entry hallway has large meeting rooms on both sides, and built in display cabinets currently showing off a scout display, kid’s creations and ads for summer programs.


August 15, 2017

Bethlehem Public Library

I think this is my favorite library in the system. I’ll give you a definitive answer when I’ve visited them all. It’s in a beautiful suburban area Northeast of Albany (on the Western side of the Hudson).  It’s very well-funded, but it’s not just about that.

“People think innovation is about one massive change, but it’s not, it’s many little changes, over time,” said Director Geoff Kirkpatrick. It’s experimenting, accepting failure as a part of growth.  Trying new things like 3D printers, charging stations, mini golf in the library, wifi at the pool and lending out things like fishing poles and metal detectors.  Even under-funded libraries like mine can get that mindset, and experiment with things like traveling story times, seed libraries and appliance repair nights.


Tour of Libraries: Guilderland Library

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing to define areas by where you can shop, but if I was to describe where the Guilderland Library was to my friends I would say “near Crossgates Mall”.  It’s also close to SUNY Albany’s main campus.  This particular library is one of my favorites (but I think one other is my absolute fav).


I wish I had paused to read the sign to find out why there is a life-sized cow (bull? didn’t check) in their foyer.


Tour of Libraries: William K Sanford Town Library (AKA Colonie Library)

The William K Sanford Town Library, next door to the Times Union Newspaper building, lies at the end of Wolf Road, a shopping/restaurant destination for the Albany area, and close to the Albany airport.  When approaching from Wolf Road you have to make a slingshot around a roundabout.

From what I can tell, this low brick building is technically one story, with a second story wedged in by sheer willpower.  They have done a lot to make what they have attractive and useful, but it could really do with a renovation. (Update: They are planning renovations. “We will be repairing the roof, then renovating. We will moving departments to better use our space, and we’ve been getting input from the community,” said Library Director Evelyn Neale ) As I was trying to take pictures, I found it difficult because there were people everywhere, tucked into every nook and cranny, reading, studying, working on laptops, tutoring and browsing. (more…)

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