By Nathan Mayberg
BLOOMINGBURG September 22, 2006 For most of the crowd of about two dozen people at the public information meeting at the Bloomingburg Town Hall, the closing of the Wurtsboro Library was a scary option that they vehemently opposed. But for the Mamakating Library District Board of Trustees, that library is in poor shape, is a fiscal drain and the closing will help them build a new central facility.
The closing of the library, which will take place October 7, will leave residents in the town with the options of using the library in Bloomingburg or traveling to libraries in Monticello, Fallsburg or Ellenville, which are all part of the Ramapo Catskill Library System.
Early on, patrons from the Wurtsboro Library expressed their anger and hostility to the plans. But the board steadfastly defended their plans. According to Board President Angela Callahan, the closing will save the district nearly $10,000. Their budget for the upcoming year is $250,000 and it is paid for by the taxpayers in the town. The rent in Wurtsboro is three times higher than the rent in Bloomingburg, she said. The library pays $300 a month in rent to the town for the library in Wurtsboro. The library in Bloomingburg is owned by the Village of Bloomingburg. The district has $260,000 in savings for a new facility. They hope to partner with the RCLS in the next year or so to construct one main library to service the town.
Callahan said the Wurtsboro Library needs a new furnace, and has mold and leakage issues. The library board is not willing to invest the necessary funds to repair the building. She has met with Town Supervisor Charles Penna about the windows leaking, but he was unwilling to help. Penna said the window issue was minor and that the town repaired the roof last year. He said the building was in good shape and that it was “a shame” it was closing. “A lot of people put their hearts and souls into it,” he stated.
Some in the audience complained that the district neglected the library in Wurtsboro in favor of the library in Bloomingburg. Aside from its condition, they said it was harder to return books to Bloomingburg and take books out. It was also difficult to have books sent there, they said.
Callahan said the library district needs a larger facility with a computer center and meeting room space, something they currently lack. There was a plan to move the library to the Mamakating Town Park. That idea was floated during the administration of Supervisor Fred Harding, but faded after he lost in an election to Penna, said Callahan.
One woman complained that the library in Bloomingburg did not offer storytelling time for children. She was not happy with the response she received from the librarian there when she brought up the idea to her.
The collection at the Wurtsboro Library will be weeded out, said Callahan. Some books will be brought to the library in Bloomingburg, while others may be donated to local prisons. She said there may be a book sale. “Wurtsboro’s been a drain on funding,” she said. With one central location, there will be better service, she hoped. There will be more hours available, she said.
Committees are being formed to develop a plan for a new library. Some of those who were opposed to the closing said they would assist in the formation of a plan.