Former Lives of Libraries: Hudson Area Library & Smithtown Library - Nesconset Branch
This Former Lives of Libraries showcases two libraries that both used to be armories!
Hudson Area Library
Submitted by Emily Chameides, Hudson Area Library Director
The Hudson Area Library was founded in 1959 in a historic building at 400 State Street in Hudson, NY. On April 9, 2016, the library opened in its new location at 51 N. 5th ST, one block from the original library building in a historic armory (pictured to the right). You can read a full history of the armory here. The library occupies the first floor of the Armory, now called the Galvan Armory; the second floor is the Senior Center for the City of Hudson and the third floor is home to Perfect Ten, a non-profit afterschool program for young women. The library is chartered to serve the City of Hudson and Town of Greenport.
The library was approached by the Galvan Foundation in 2011 with an offer of 13,000 sq. ft. in the historic Hudson Armory. This was double the amount of space in the former library.
The library’s new space allows for a community atmosphere – one that uses libraries not just for solitary study, but for collaboration, creativity, and comfort and relaxation. Hudson now has a beautiful, open floor plan; a library built for today and tomorrow. The space is welcoming and vibrant, comfortable and inspiring. It’s been wonderful to see the response to the new building.
Great success has followed the Hudson Library after their grand opening in April. They’ve seen tremendous growth – 29% increase in circulation, 237% increase in new cards issued, 92% increase in visits, and 418% increase in wireless use (wireless stats are from April through September – new system which lets us more accurately track usage). Community organizations, agencies and school groups have been booking the community room for programs, meetings, and events, as well as signing up for tours of the space. They’ve also witnessed a significant increase in the use of the library by business people and students for work and study – the high speed internet and the increase in quantity and quality of work spaces has been a big draw. There has also been a large increase in use of the library by families, in particular those with small children, to make use of our early literacy area. And, for the first time in the library’s history, the library is wheelchair accessible!
A new Program Director was hired and they have offered many new and engaging programs for community members (and visitors) from birth through seniors. Programs have included HACK the Library! (a weekend media making workshop for youth – held during hours when the library was closed so the kids could “take over the library), a James Baldwin reading and discussion series, a tiny book show and book making workshop, and teen media-making and coding workshops.
Funding was made possible through multiple sources including Foundation grants, individual contributions, corporate sponsorship, fundraising events, and New York State Public Library Construction Grant funds.
Smithtown Library - Nesconset Branch
Submitted by Julie DeLaney, Smithtown Library Head of Community Relations
The Smithtown Library can trace its beginnings back to 1907 when materials were housed in Judge Lawrence Smith’s law office. The Library has come a long way since opening its doors- opening a permanent building in 1912, expanding its building into four separate branches between 1967-68 and completing a full expansion and renovation project in all branches in 2012. One of biggest changes to take place within this expansion project was the Library’s acquirement of the Nesconset Armory. Before this project, only three of the Library’s four branches had a permanent location; the Nesconset Armory would soon become the permanent location of the Nesconset Branch, which had been rented from a local shopping plaza since the 1970s.
In the early months of 2010, The Smithtown Library broke ground on the Nesconset Branch renovation project. During 15 months of construction, the neglected and rundown Nesconset Armory became a modern library building. The armory’s graffiti covered main equipment room was transformed into a large adult department and the new children’s department is located in the armory’s garage bay. The Smithtown Library’s Administration, Business Office, Community Relations Department as well as their Technical Service Department were able to permanently move to the Nesconset Branch as well. The Nesconset Branch opened its doors to the public in the summer of 2011. The Nesconset Branch of The Smithtown Library is a LEED certified building which has become a much loved community center in the years since its opening. In addition to the Library building, the Nesconset Branch shares land with the Charles P. Toner Smithtown Town Park, which houses a playground, children’s water park, hockey rink, skateboard area, walking track, tennis court, soccer field and dog park.
The Nesconset Branch of The Smithtown Library is located at 148 Smithtown Boulevard, Nesconset NY.