Local News

April 11, 2009

Each its own story


At first glance, Port Henry's Sherman Free Library looks like it may have been a church. A patron entering from the red brick exterior is greeted by walls, ceiling and furniture crafted of white oak. Brass railings accent as well as protect bibliophiles who stroll along the open balcony.

A few libraries, such as Schroon Lake's, are located in the town hall of their community.

Belden-Noble Memorial Library in Essex was initially a general store constructed with blue limestone in 1818.

"It's built like Fort Knox. It's a beautiful old building that has an unparalleled view," Director Karen East said with pride.

Until 1995, it had no telephone, central heating or bathroom. Recently, the Victorian height of the shelves was altered to accommodate today's taller volumes.


Budget dictates library hours; Peru is open 38 per week not counting special events, while Essex is listed at 15 hours. Most have a paid director and one or more volunteers.

Although some libraries were initiated with endowments, a variety of approaches help keep them running.

Some funding comes from tax levies. When the Northeastern Clinton Central School budget goes up for vote each May, for example, voters also choose whether to OK funds for the libraries in Mooers, Champlain and Rouses Point.

Most have annual appeals as well as funding from their towns. A major source for Willsboro's Paine Library is the annual Folk and Craft show.

Director Cheryl Blanchard said she feels "very fortunate that our annual appeal helps out. With the state funding continually cut, we have to be more independent."

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