Nyack Sketch Log: The Nyack Library, Part II

by Bill Batson

The Nyack Library is an example of one of the most epic philanthropic gestures of the early 20e Century. Andrew Carnegie has supported the construction of 1,689 public libraries in 1,419 communities across America. The steel tycoon, who was the richest man in the world at the time, would be proud to know that in the 21st century, the construction of a modern wing doubled the space of its original building. offered.

Communities across the country vied for a contribution from Carnegie, and its funding did not come without strings attached. Local governments were to agree to allocate 10% of Carnegie’s donation annually to maintain the library he would build. If his conditions were met, Carnegie would pledge $ 2 per resident. The population of the 3 river villages, Nyack, Upper Nyack and South Nyack, was 7,500 at the end of the 19the century. The 3 village councils voted to increase library funding from $ 1,200 per year to $ 1,500, or 10% of Carnegie’s eventual donation of $ 15,000.

The cornerstone was laid on May 21, 1903 for a building designed by acclaimed local architects Emery Brothers and MJB Simonson. As iconic as the rocky stone facade of the original library building has become, another stone object that stands guard near the entrance also deserves an honorable mention.

The 10-ton boulder dedicated to Abraham Lincoln and the Union Army was dragged from the banks of the Hudson River by a team of 18 horses and 100 men with ropes. Local schoolchildren raised funds to cover the cost of excavating and depositing the building monument, and Civil War veterans attended its inauguration on June 13, 1908.

May 7e 2011, hundreds of people attended the unveiling of a spacious metal and glass annex barely visible from Lincoln Rock. Carnegie would still recognize the building he funded because architect Michael Esmay executed an extension that neither competes nor conflicts with the original structure. (My sketch is taken from the back of the new complex.)

The new Nyack library building is designed to meet the needs of the information age: the number of computers with internet access has tripled, there are more public meeting spaces, areas that serve different age groups have been improved and display and multimedia elements that make it easier to browse the collection have been installed.

The interior of the new wing, designed by Barbara Corwin, is bright and welcoming, like a reading room in a solarium. The experience of sitting with a book on a wooden table, watching a panoramic view of the Hudson through a picture window is exhilarating.

Roger Seiler, chairman of the board at the time of the expansion, described the new Nyack library as a “vibrant center of information and culture”.

In 2020, Nyack Library received the 2020 Jospeh F. Shubert Award for Excellence in Library in recognition of a year of programming titled “Black American Culture and Art Series: The Legacy of Toni Morrison”.

Here are some upcoming programs at Nyack Library that you might be interested in:

  • Urban renewal and the African-American community: round table: Juneteenth at the Nyack library
  • On June 16, 7 p.m., I sit on a panel moderated by Owen Voutsinas-Klose with Win Perry, Lonnie Leonard, Jr., Janice Owens and Faith Blount to discuss the impact of Nyack’s urban renewal program on the black community. . Click here to sign up.
  • River Hook Experience: Beekeeping
  • On June 22 at 7 p.m., the public is invited to discover River Hook through the work of our beekeeper in residence, Nat Wasserstein. The evening features a video of a workshop taken at the new apiary in River Hook with Nat available after the screening to answer questions. Video production by Flying Films NY Inc. is made possible by the Welles Remy Crowther Charitable Trust.
  • Click here to register: Nyack Sketch Log: The Nyack Library Part I

Interior Library Photo Credit: John Putre

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and draws in Nyack, NY. “Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Library Part II” © 2015 Bill Batson.

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