The Coronavirus pandemic forced a New York lockdown, including of the Stone Ridge Library, but behind the scenes, carefully and quietly, the Library was at work improving its 222-year-old stone building. The results are now on display as the Library has opened again—with some cautionary changes—for regular public hours.
When the virus hit America last March, the Library, like other public institutions, was forced to close its doors. But planning was already underway for a major interior renovation–the construction of a new and improved circulation desk. The desk is the hub of the Library as we served 58,970 visitors last year.
Before the lockdown, the Library had obtained a state grant and raised private money to build the new desk, positioning it in a different location from what patrons were used to. It is now further inside the building, opposite an old fireplace in an airy, larger, and renovated space.
“The change was necessary,” explained Library Director Jody Ford, “so that we could become more efficient in helping patrons check out books, DVDs and audio materials.” The former space was crowded and did not provide adequate space for library materials being held for library patrons,” Ford said. The Library circulated 74,995 items last year and received 15,708 inter-library loans.
In addition, the new desk has a desk-to-ceiling Plexiglas barrier that will protect both patrons and staff during the current virus episode. The Library is currently using the wood and materials it had been using before the lockdown, but a new desk is under construction by Bare Furniture of Accord, N.Y. Installation is expected later this fall.
“As the public knows, “said Board of Trustees President Susanne Warren, “we have been aggressively improving the Library over the past few years. We stabilized the 1798 building with various major structural changes. We resurfaced much of our exterior of both our buildings. And we expanded a new activity room that is now one of our most versatile spaces.”
“And the desk,” she said, “is another piece of the puzzle in making the library a showcase historical space – as well as an important intellectual and cultural component of the Marbletown community.”
The other change, patrons will find, is that the beautiful wide-plank floors of the library have been refinished and now shine like new. In addition, many of the shelves that hold the Library’s collection have been moved and re-used in more efficient ways.
“We are particularly proud,” said Ford, “that our workers were able to re-purpose virtually all the old wood from the previous shelves, not only saving money but smartly using the Library’s past as part of its present.” The bulk of the work in the Library has been done by Board Member Ethan Plank, who Ford describes as “tireless,” and local carpenter John Saldi, an expert craftsman in restoring older buildings.
“Despite the woes of the time,” said Warren, “the Library is pleased with all that we have accomplished during the downtime.” Also, the Library’s budget of $277,964 passed unanimously, 35-0, in a Sept. 15 public election. The Library did not ask for any raise in its budget over last year. Warren and Dr. Robert Miraldi were re-elected to the Board for four-year terms and Warren was voted by the Board to continue to serve as its President.
The Library has now reopened its doors to regular full-time hours: Monday, 1:30 to 7p.m.; Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5:30pm; and Saturday 10am to 3pm. The only changes are that people are now asked to wear masks, observe social distancing, and limit their visits to 30 minutes. Curbside pickup of material is also still available if patrons prefer, and online services are available 24/7.