Please support our Saranac Lake library

To the editor:

The Saranac Lake Free Library has been around, in one form or another, since the early days of the Civil War (1862), when a local cobbler, Hillel Baker, maintained a small circulating library in Saranac Lake. In 1880, Dr. Edward L. Trudeau formed a Reading Club for patients of another pandemic: tuberculosis. Dr. Trudeau sponsored the construction of a small building on Main Street called the Franklin County Library where residents and visitors, among them Robert Louis Stevenson, contributed about 400 volumes.

The library has grown substantially since those days and it continues to demonstrate the community’s dedication to support the increase in resources, services and programs offered there. The building may be closed, but the library services remain open and available through an online presence where patrons can order audio and digital books and periodicals, watch a member of the library staff read stories on Facebook and where the community can continue to go to get current and reliable information on a variety of subjects.

Just like any responsible business, the Saranac Lake Free Library is concerned about the safety, health and comfort of its patrons and its staff. The director, Peter Benson, has been working diligently during this period to ensure that when the actual doors are reopened in the days ahead, all necessary precautions will be in place. The library will have some new restrictions and rules. It may have a different feel about it, but the same dedicated and knowledgeable staff will be there providing their top-notch service. They are looking forward to once again providing the public the ability to borrow a book or a movie, a baking pan or a ukulele!

And even though the doors are closed, the Saranac Lake Free Library staff continues to work behind the scenes. The building still needs to be maintained, and the expenses have not gone away. The future of the summer book sale is in doubt, and the annual appeal letter has been postponed because volunteers, who are a very large part of putting the mailing together, were not able to be safely brought together. While we always appreciate a financial donation, we are also suggesting some other ways that our community can help. Please make sure to mail in your ballot for the 2020 annual school board elections by June 9, and consider voting yes on Proposition I. Looking for a way to serve in the future? Give some thought to joining the Board of Trustees in the years ahead. Every year, two trustees leave the board and two join. As a result, we are continuously recruiting new members. If you would like to be considered for board membership, please contact the library Director Peter Benson at slfl.pete@gmail.com.

Carla Hayden, the current librarian of Congress and the first woman to hold that position, said, “Libraries are a cornerstone of democracy — where information is free and equally available to everyone. People tend to take that for granted, and they don’t realize what is at stake when that is put at risk.” Let’s all work together to keep our treasured Saranac Lake Free Library vibrant and growing in the days and years ahead.


Amy Richardson

Vice president, Board of Trustees

Saranac Lake Free Library


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