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Hamburg Library director weighs in on upcoming renovations

A PLACE TO READ — The Hamburg Public Library will undergo renovations, and will have new additions and features that library Director Jack Edson said will be magnets for visitors. Photo by Alicia Greco.
HAMBURG — Jack Edson, 28-year director of the Hamburg Public Library, has explored the world’s libraries, spanning in location from foreign cities to small communities.

He said that the Vatican Library in Vatican City, the Bibliothèques Paris, the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. rank as some of his favorite establishments, but “community libraries can be innovative and welcoming, also.”

According to Edson, throughout his travels, he has absorbed and been inspired by various features of other locations; he said that these innovations have caused him to brainstorm and progress with maintaining grants, to build up and improve the village of Hamburg’s location.

“It’s my baby,” Edson told The Sun, about the Hamburg Library. “It’s really moving into the future.”

He reported that the library currently has a sum of more than $700,000 in New York State Construction Grants for its proposed 6,000-square foot addition.

“[These grants] really are the impetus for building a project for your community,” he said, adding that the monetary assistance gained “really gets the ball rolling.”

In addition, community support and donations are also contributing to the library’s renovation. Edson expressed gratitude to the Hamburg Town Board, for its ongoing support.

“Everybody loves the idea,” Edson said, in regard to the projected installments and construction. He said that, in his long-time position as director, he has watched, as the world has changed.

The Hamburg Public Library was built in 1966. Since then, Edson said that it has grown, with the addition of films and computers. He said he hopes to continue to update it into even more of a 21st century library. “We’re keeping it very flexible for people who come after us,” he said, referencing the construction work.

“What we want is a destination,” he added. “Some place that’s memorable to come to, that fosters creativity and learning and inspiration.”

New building features will include a circular-shaped add-on and an indoor ramp, so that “someone in a wheel chair will have a very easy route.” He said this addition was inspired by the ramp that was installed within Hamburg’s Saints Peter & Paul Church.

He said he also believes that the enlarged meeting room, in-house coffee shop and fireplace will be magnets to visitors.

So far, he said, the air conditioning has now been completely replaced.

While the first renovation phase was scheduled to begin in August, plans were later halted indefinitely.

On Dec. 9, the Hamburg Town Board awarded the library contract to Transit Construction Services Corp. of Elma, which submitted a low bid of $1.89 million. At that time, Edson announced plans to complete the library renovations by this November.

The library contract is currently being challenged by the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council in state supreme court.

Edson said that he could not comment further, on this issue, but a recent post on the library’s Facebook page indicated that plans are still in place to begin the renovations soon.


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