Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Alfred Box of Books

While one would think that a local library has always been in the town of Alfred, but the Alfred Box of Books was established much more recently than one would expect.  The original Box of Books building (currently the children's room) was used as a bookstore until Alfred University bought the building and leased it to the Library in 1985.  This part of the building is over 120 years old.  It was soon clear that the room would not be big enough and funds were raised through the village to construct an addition to the building.  The adult section (or really, other room) of the current library was built in 1987 by a Vocational group from Alfred State (Klingensmith).

Before the move into its current location, in 1967, the village library had been a "large trailer" known as the "Mobile Center" (Kligensmith).  Volunteer library technicians maintained the trailer for village patrons on Sundays and Mondays.  The trailer was first located at Pine and Main Streets (where the stop light is today), but was then moved to West University and Main.  This trailer was damaged and the Southern Tier Library System (of which the current Box of Books is a member) took action (because of the community's enthusiastic attitude towards the continuation of a library in Alfred) and discontinued the trailer for a rented space in Greene Hall in 1977.  

In 1989, the circulation was 10,100 books and had 500 cardholders (Klingensmith).  This has greatly increased since then, and recently the circulation was estimated to be 15,457 books ("Alfred").

Today, the library is used readily by many villagers as well as out-of-towners most often from Hornell, Andover, Almond and Wellsville (any cardholder in the Southern Tier Library System can use any member library).  A computer system was added in 2002, but the previous director was unwilling to completely convert.  The card catalog bureau was only thoroughly emptied about two years ago.

Periodically, the shelves must be cleared of books that haven't been checked out in 3 or 4 years. The library still struggles with limited space, even with the addition added over 20 years ago.  Recent reorganization of the shelving units has de-cluttered and almost streamlined the walking areas of the library.  The limited space within the library though, is expanded by the fact that any card holder can put a book, movie, CD, etc on hold at any other library in the Southern Tier Library System (this even includes the Southport Correctional Facility).

In August of 2009, the children's room received an upgrade: new carpet was put in and the walls were painted from white to a warm brown.  Later, floral curtains were added.

Overall, the library has a board, the director, a librarian, and three work study students.  The library would not exist, though, without the help of volunteers.  Most of the volunteers are over the age of 60, and their projects range from adding materials to the collection to book repair to working the front desk to reading shelves.

Children and teen programming has increased in the past year with the addition of the new director of children's programming.  She also works as the librarian.  The programs include weekly story times, home-school groups, holiday parties, movie screenings, Wii gaming for fundraising, and much more.

Most days in the Box of Books are quiet, not because it's a library, but more because it's Alfred.  Most patrons have at least one day where they come to the library regularly.  Often, even fewer patrons come in when the weather is unreasonable, or if they do visit the library, they walk the short distance from their houses in order to check out entertaining reading material or movies.



Klingensmith, Margaret. "Box of Books Reading Center." Comp. The Alfred Historical Society and Baker's Bridge Association. History of Alfred, New York. Dallas: Curtis Media Corporation, 1990. 28-29. Print.

"Alfred Box of Books Library -- Alfred, NY [lib-web-cats 6651]." Library Technology Guides: Key Resources in Library Automation. Web. 15 Feb. 2010. .

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