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North country libraries receive $188,000 in funding for construction projects

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WATERTOWN — Several libraries in Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties will share more than $188,000 in public library construction funds to make upgrades, increase handicapped accessibility and improve energy efficiency.

North Country Library Director Stephen B. Bolton said the funding allocated for the 65 libraries in Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties will go a long way toward providing necessary upgrades that small rural libraries might not otherwise be able to fund on their own.

“This money helps in a variety of ways; libraries in our area do fundraising to help with construction projects with small village libraries,” Mr. Bolton said. “To have 50 to 75 percent of the construction costs paid for is a huge help.”

According to a release from the office of Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Huevelton, the Depauville Free Library will receive $108,441 toward the construction of a small addition to the former school house.

“I’ve been waiting for this news for months,” said Depauville Library Director Karen Ladder Lago. “Very happy to hear we got it.”

The construction project will be funded using the newly designated state funding. The town of Clayton will give $20,000 and the library will provide the final $28,000.

“It’s a small share of a large project, but it definitely helps,” Ms. Lago said, adding it is difficult for a community library to raise funds and the money provided by the state will go a long way.

The library plans to add a small addition off the back of the building with a handicapped-accessible ramp and reading recovery room. A handicapped-accessible bathroom also will be built on the bottom floor. On the second floor of the addition will be a children’s room that will connect to the existing first floor.

The Canton Free Library also will receive $3,150.

In the most recent state budget, local legislators fought for significant support for local libraries, rejecting a proposed $4 million cut to library funding and working to increase funding for libraries across the state by $1 million over last year’s budget, the release said. Mr. Bolton said the funding is thanks to local representatives who understand the significance of the library in rural communities.

“It’s through the support of our local legislators up here that appreciate the efforts to help have this funding given year after year that helps make these construction projects happen,” he said. He thanked Sen. Ritchie, Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, and Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome.

“The libraries throughout Central and Northern New York are such fantastic resources for taxpayers in our region, offering books, new technology and countless community activities,” Sen. Ritchie said in the release. “I’m thrilled that the state is recognizing the importance of our libraries and know that this funding will go a long way toward helping these centers of learning improve and better serve those who utilize them.”

The state has more than 7,000 public libraries, including more than 50 public libraries in Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties — one of the largest concentrations of public libraries in any Senate district in the state, her release said.

Funding announced Wednesday is part of $14 million in capital funds for public library construction provided in the 2013 state budget.

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