New library in 2015

Hamilton Hill library branch abruptly closed

Neighborhood left waiting for new facility to be built

Friday, December 27, 2013
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New library in 2015

The Carver Community Center on Craig Street in Schenectady Friday. The center is scheduled to close December 31.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
The Carver Community Center on Craig Street in Schenectady Friday. The center is scheduled to close December 31.

The Hamilton Hill library branch has closed suddenly, which may leave the neighborhood with no library for a year or more.

The branch was inside the Carver Community Center, which as recently as last month was advertising that it was making a comeback as a revitalized and stronger organization. But then it closed its doors without any fanfare — leaving the library branch locked up and inaccessible.

There may be no library for the neighborhood until a new branch is built, which may not be finished until 2015.

County spokesman Joseph McQueen said he was saddened by the sudden closure.

“Carver has been an important partner with the county in delivering needed services to the community,” he said. “We have offered any expertise we may be able to provide, if their board desires, to help them through this process so they may hopefully re-open again to serve our community.”

But he added that he doesn’t expect the Carver branch library to reopen. Instead, he said, librarians “will use this time to reach deeper into the community” to find out what the neighborhood wants at its new library.

He also said he’s hoping the new library, which will be located in a building undergoing significant renovations, will be done by the end of 2014 rather than in 2015. The county library system is combining the Hamilton Hill and Duane branches and locating the new library at 954 State St.

Still, some residents said they shouldn’t have to wait a year or more for a library.

“That’s long,” said Teddy Bennett, who was reading at the main branch Friday. “They shouldn’t have closed that library. We need a library. To come down here, it’s a long walk, especially in the winter.”

When he was younger, he recalled, he would spend hours in the Hamilton Hill branch, writing film scripts.

“There’s a lot of kids in that area. It should have a library,” he said.

City Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said she wants another nonprofit group to make space for a branch until the new library is ready.

“I think it’s important that children have access to books,” she said. “A lot of children from this neighborhood don’t necessarily have the transportation, or their parents don’t have the transportation. Carver was something they could walk to.”

She added that school libraries couldn’t fill the gap.

“What happens in the summer when the schools are closed?” she said. “What about now, when the schools are closed? Over the summer, they want kids to read.”

The county Human Rights Commission is also looking for a solution.

“The commissioners are all very concerned,” said Executive Director Angelicia Morris. “We support public education, which is a human right. We are concerned for the residents and the kids.”

For now, the library system is encouraging patrons to go to the Duane or Mont Pleasant branches, which are the closest libraries to the neighborhood.

The Mont Pleasant branch, at 1026 Crane St., is about two-thirds of a mile from the former Hamilton Hill library.

The Duane library, at 1331 State St., is 1.2 miles away.

Carver Community Center officials have refused for weeks to respond to numerous requests for comment about their plans.

Two weeks ago, an employee there scoffed at the “comeback” press release from the center when a reporter asked about it and said she needed to find a new job right away.

By Friday, the Schenectady County library website and phone system had been updated to remove any reference to the library.

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December 27, 2013
5:01 p.m.
safny says...

That is a total crock - the two years before someone's friends build the "no-bid" library will be wasted as far as that neighborhood is concerned. No one who works for the county will ever comment as county employees are barred from speaking to the press without permission and the "leadership" will just issue more nonsense. It's like the old Soviet Union - all traces of ugly history are removed!! That way they never existed.

December 27, 2013
7:13 p.m.
pbd says...

This is nonsense. Why is it closing? What about neighborhood/ community input?

December 28, 2013
12:55 a.m.
ChuckD says...

Hey, but what about that lower State street scene, eh? What a jewel. Bang-up job there Metroplex.
Just thinking out loud here, but wouldn't it be great if a major learning institution (that happens to enjoy property tax-exempt status) and one of the largest corporations in the world, who happens to reside here, and a major regional health insurer who's also based here, could get together with other local businesses and provide some support? It is their community too. And maybe the city could provide the leadership? Because libraries are really important.
I guess not.

December 28, 2013
8:24 a.m.
reader1 says...

It's probably more complicated than any of you are making it. First, Carver Community Center needs to assess their status and determine their course for the future. Carver housed the Library, so, before anyone can help Carver has to take the first step. I doubt it as simple as another entity just pumping more money into it just to keep the library open.

December 28, 2013
8:55 a.m.
safny says...

If the people who run the county and the library knew that there were problems that might cause the library to close - then they should have been trying to figure out what to do instead of waiting until it closed and acting like they're surprised. I don't think it's about money - I think it's about incompetence and corruption.

December 28, 2013
9:54 a.m.
rentable says...

Where was the outcry from the city council member who resides on the Hill?Think anyone would have noticed if it was the Niskayuna or Rotterdam Branch?

December 28, 2013
10:39 a.m.
reader1 says...

It's not the typical situation. You have a governmental entity housed within a private institution. Unless the Library personnel had access to all of the Carver's administrative records, particularly the financials - they would only know what Carver shared with them. The point being, they might have been caught totally off guard by the reality of Carver's situation.

RE: the City Council member who resides on the Hill. They may have been caught off guard, as well. This was only made public yesterday, so, you have to give them time to assess what happened. And, why is the assumption that "outcry or outrage" is the proper reaction?

This is far from over and may actually create some opportunities.

December 28, 2013
5:04 p.m.
gina99 says...

Another great job by the working together machine. The incompetence is countywide. How's the progress on the promised Duanesburg expansion? It's been over for Hamilton Hill for many decades.

December 31, 2013
9:02 a.m.
FlyPTi says...

When the County Leg. blasted through the state property tax cap and henceforth earning the ire of the property owners and the governor, I objected. I was taken aside by multiple County Leg. and told that they were forced to do this for the "poor"! How do you explain this? The residents of Hamilton Hill have to wakeup and know that is simply paving the way for a first phase of a 9 million dollar low income housing project across the street from Carver. It is the first step in gutting Kids Corridor on Craig. First Carver and then the Boys and Girls Club.
$$$$ rules!

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