Keeping Up With The Times

Myers Memorial Library To Show Off Renovation From 5-8 P.M. Today

A new children’s room and community room has been opened at Myers Memorial Library in Frewsburg. The new spaces along with other renovations to the building were made possible by library staff and volunteers. P-J photo by William Mohan

FREWSBURG — The Myers Memorial Library has been updated with the latest technology and materials to better meet the needs of its patrons.

The recent changes came with the arrival of Izabela Nowak as the new director in December 2016. She had a vision to make the library relevant to the public and was backed fully by the library’s board. The result is a new children’s area and community space.

From her first day as director, Nowak set out to find ways and means to make the library relevant to a new generation of youth and readers. She invested her time and energy to finding new books and materials, planned renovations and applied for grant money as often as possible.

“She talked to parents and other patrons about what they thought could work better (in the library),” said librarian Rachel Roushey.

Library staff and volunteers said that without the work of Nowak and volunteers the new additions to the building wouldn’t have been possible.

“Iza said the library has to modernize and appeal to youth,” said Melvin Feather, library board president.

Previously the library board had attempted to apply for a New York State Aid for Library Construction Grant but had not received any award money.

The process had been instigated by board members Paul Bell, Larry Marvell, Jason Bussman and James Hale. However, Nowak brought new energy to the project.

“Iza (along with the board) made this possible,” Feather said.

Nowak applied for the construction grant in February 2018. In December a $104,606 grant was awarded to the library for renovations to the building. Nowak also applied for a grant from the the Carnahan-Jackson Foundation in April 2018. In December the agency awarded the library $40,000 that was also designated for renovations.

The New York State Library Construction Grant an appropriation of capital funds of $24 million from the 2017-18 state budget that was designated for the use of refurbishing libraries. Libraries could apply for a construction allocation that funded up to 75 percent of a renovation project. Myers was one of 230 construction projects in public libraries and library systems that was supported in New York. The Carnahan-Jackson Foundation is an agency that provides grants exclusively for literary and eductaional purposes in the United States. The foundation funds libraries, educational institutions, scholarships and basic human needs. Grant awards range from $1,100 to $150,000.

“I remember when she got (Nowak) the letter that the library had the reward, she was so excited,” Roushey said.

“We had plans to renovate for years and when we figured out we could apply for this grant (library construction) through the state and from Carnahan-Jackson, we realized it was doable,” Feather said.

While the grants helped pay for the renovations, the majority of the work was undertaken by library volunteers. The demolition process began in July 2017 and ended in January 2018.

“We all helped with the demolition we saved a lot of money by tearing it out ourselves,” Feather said.

With that, work began with remodeling the basement area of the library. The only major renovation that had taken place at the library had been in 2004. That project focused on redesigning the library’s main entrance and the installation of an elevator to make the building handicap accessible.

“I noticed a lot of new opportunities for this library,” Nowak said. “The downstairs area had long been overdue for an update. I wanted to rebrand the library to a modern and user-friendly space where they (the community) can find the latest best-sellers or just have a nice time meeting friends.”

Nowak also wanted to make the library a place where youth would want to frequent as often as possible.

“I wanted to especially reintroduce the young people to the library. We want them to come play, learn and feel comfortable here,” Nowak said. “It is a safe place with up-to-date technology and cool things to do.”

“We gutted everything,” Feather said. “Everything was 1930s original so we needed to go down to the bare walls.”

The outdated, furniture, carpeting, books and other materials were removed. At the same time, a new heating and air conditioning system was installed and new windows, blinds, and paint were added to each room.

The result is two new spaces dedicated to engaging public interaction and community events. The library also serves as an afterschool location for Frewsburg Central School students and tutors.

In the new spaces are a children’s room and a community room. The children’s room has a play area with toys and is stocked with new books. The community room has reading tables and a Sony PlayStation 4 video game console. Both rooms feature computers and televisions.

In addition, a kitchen, new restrooms, and a changing station has been installed. Both rooms also have the ability to be rearranged for public events.

The two rooms were switched from their previous locations because more space was available in the current children’s room.

“It (the current location) makes the children’s room three times the size it already was,” Feather said.

Feather also explained that the children’s play area was extended into the hallway connecting the two rooms. That section has play tables and a hand-drawing board.

To celebrate the new renovation, the library is hosting an open house today from 5 to 8 p.m. The Myers Memorial Library is located at 6 Falconer St. in Frewsburg. To learn more about Myers Library, upcoming events and newsletters visit myerslibrary.org. The library can also be found on Instagram and Facebook.


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