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March 28, 2011

 

Dryden library work nearly done

Expansion expected to be finished next month, quintupling library’s size

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

DRYDEN — The Southworth Library expansion is nearing completion and on schedule to open in late April, according to library Trustee Mike Lane.
Some scaffolding still stood outside the stone walls of the new addition and the roof was covered with plastic Saturday morning, as patrons perused the books in the library’s main building, which has remained open throughout the construction that began in August.
The addition, which is just under 5,000 square feet, will increase the library’s size from 1,550 to 6,500 square feet. It will allow for wheelchair accessibility, more computers, larger sections for books, a new circulation desk and workroom for staff and restrooms, provide parking in the back lot and allow for an expanded collection.
“This will be ... we believe, a much needed asset for our village. We have just run out of room in the old library because every square inch had been used,” Lane said Saturday.
The addition will also free up space in the older library for meeting room space and allow more room for some of the permanent collection, he said.
The main reading rooms will be wheelchair accessible, an improvement from the situation now, where there are three levels of book stacks, accessible only by stairs.
Although the library has more than 25,000 volumes now, tripling the square footage will provide ample room for more books, Lane said.
The addition is being funded by about $1.4 million from the library’s sale of a President Abraham Lincoln speech manuscript in 2009. The trustees sold the manuscript through an auction at Christie’s in New York City for $3.4 million after about 10 years of debating whether to part with it.
About $1.6 million will go to an endowment that will help operate the addition, including staffing.
The library acquired the manuscript in 1928 from Rep. John Dwight, a congressman from Dryden, who willed it to the library. Dwight received the manuscript, Lincoln’s speech written in 1864 after his re-election, as a gift from Lincoln’s son. Dwight had helped to obtain funding for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the manuscript was the son’s way of thanking Dwight for helping to shepherd the funding through Congress.
Lane said the library, which is on the National Historic Registry, retains its characteristic Ohio Sandstone walls since the quarry that provided the stones for the original building, built in 1893, is still in operation. The stone is a slightly lighter shade due to changes in the rock over time, but otherwise identical.
Dryden resident Al Sinnigen, a retired school teacher who frequents the library to find books to fulfill his varied interests, was leaving the library Saturday with a new tome in hand.
Sinnigen is looking forward to the library having more of a selection. Although Sinnigen said he is never disappointed with the collection, he thinks there will be a bigger variety of books in the new space.
“It is a nice service for the village,” Sinnigen said, adding he purchases fewer books now that he finds all he needs at the library.
Lane said the library might have to close for a week when it moves its collection to the new space but has continued providing services through construction.
When it opens in April, some landscaping will have to be done to provide a reading area in the back for outdoor story time for children, said Lane.
The focal point of the addition will be a 4-foot-high sculpture of Lincoln and his son reading and a bronze plaque dedicated to the Dwight family, located behind the new circulation desk in the new building, Lane said.
Local sculptor Jacques Schickel is making the sculpture, which will be unveiled when the new library opens.

 

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