by Rachel Hunter
The Richville Free Library will continue to meet the needs of the community as it faces a change in library director and goes through the automation process, essentially bringing the local library into the 21st Century.
In the autumn of 1992 Lila Youngs of Richville became the library director to stop the library from closing. From her first day of work in the autumn of 1992 until her last on Wednesday, August 29, 2018, Mrs. Youngs’ love of books and her love for the community have made the Richville Free Library a place for the community to meet, engage, and learn for more than a quarter-century.
The Richville Free Library was established in 1932 and endeavors to maintain and improve the quality of life for all members of our community by providing resources and programs that enhance and contribute to individual knowledge, enlightenment, and enjoyment.
In the past 26 years, Lila Youngs has seen the Richville Free Library through several building improvements.
More than a decade ago now, the small stall bathroom in the Richville Free Library was removed. It was formerly located in the back corner of the kids reading area. It was taken out when the library was told (along with the Village of Richville) that it needed to install a handicap-accessible bathroom. It is now shared by the two entities in the place of a former office and storage room.
“We talked it over with the village and they decided to combine the two, have more space, because we would have had to have a lot more room than the little one that you could just barely walk into,” Mrs. Youngs said.
Other upgrades included a new furnace, new chimney, new windows, wall replacement, new carpet installed, and new shelving. Mrs. Youngs said that everything inside the Richville Free Library had to be removed before the upgrades could be completed. This was accomplished with the help of the members of the Richville Rockets 4-H Club as well as the library kids.
“We had days that we carried the boxes,” Mrs. Youngs said, remembering the laborious task.
In 2006 the Richville Free Library received an email from the North Country Library System to see if they were still interested in pursuing funds for new construction. On March 13, 2007, the Richville Library Board was informed of a $23,348 grant. The money was used for a 16-foot-by-36-foot addition as well as other updates throughout the building.
“It was a miracle at that time to have one public computer,” Mrs. Youngs said. “Now we have 10. It’s been super… We just replaced all of them. We put money aside every year, which North Country Library Systems recommended. When it comes time to do that again, they can replace them all at once too. They’ve updated the speed on them too. That’s nice, really nice.”
Mrs. Youngs also added that they worked through former NYS Senator Jim Wright’s office for assistance with the addition, flag poles, and library sign.
The Richville Free Library has also served as the launching pad for the Richville Playground. It all started when Amber Morrow asked if the library could hold “baby days.” Mrs. Youngs said baby days were held for a long time, up until there were no longer any babies in the Village of Richville. The same group that were active in library’s baby days then were active in putting the wheels in motion for establishing the Richville Playground.
“None of those things would have happened without the community and the board of trustees, I’ll tell you,” Mrs. Youngs said. “And then of course we got on the school ballot.”
Mrs. Youngs last day serving as director at Richville Free Library was last Wednesday, but she will still keep herself busy by volunteering with the Richville Historical Association, St. Lawrence County Historical Association, among other projects.
The new library director, Britny Harmer of Richville, will be faced with the challenge of bringing Richville Free Library fully into the 21st Century as it joins North Country Library System’s automated libraries’ list.
“It’s a big deal,” Mrs. Youngs said. “Britny’s already spent quite a bit of time on it.”
Gone are the days of using pencil and paper to log the books that are lent from the local libraries. All of the resources will be cataloged in an online database through North Country Library Systems.
“There will be no more signing the card or worrying about that. They will have cards. It’ll be real nice to do inventory and things. Plus, (Britny) is a computer whiz. So it will be nice, and it will be exciting for that next step, to be starting out and have that innovative lovely new thing.”
North Country Library System now has a mobile app where local residents can link their card to the mobile app, and then access all of the app’s features.
“You can look up what you have and when it is due,” Mrs. Harmer said. “You can actually renew it right on there. I know I have done that with my kids because they have almost been overdue, and we’re not going into town yet. So I’ll just renew it really quick. You can do holds. A lot of the homeschooling community will get on there and they know that they are going to need a book for their curriculum, so they’ll put a hold on it or request it, so they’ll that in a couple weeks it will be here.”
Mrs. Youngs said one of the tasks she thought was horrible was to generate overdue notices. The automation process will allow for those overdue notices to be generated automatically and digitally to users.
“That is a lifesaver,” Mrs. Harmer said, explaining that it issues email reminders that tell when a resource is due – whether it be on that day, the next or if it is way overdue. “It’s very helpful for parents. All the kids they can get their own cards. It is very convenient. They are e-books that I haven’t even gotten into.”
Mrs. Youngs said that she has downloaded a couple e-books. “When I am at home, I always have to have a book. On the plane, it is hard to have a paperback. You are afraid you are going to lose it… But if you have your phone or tablet, it is in your purse and you’ve got it.”
Mrs. Youngs said another exciting development is that Mrs. Harmer will have a stand-alone North Country Library Systems catalog.
“The computer will sit somewhere, and people can go on the website, in the catalog part, and type in keywords,” Mrs. Harmer said. “You can place books on hold in the NCLS. We will now be a part of that system. So if somebody looks it up and they say, ‘Oh Richville has it, they can request it and then that actually gets recorded as our lend. So that’s really nice. There are a few books, in doing our inventory, that only we have. That was kind of fun to see. We have 10 or so that we are the only ones to have them.”
Mrs. Harmer also said that she has reorganized the library shelves so that all juvenile materials will be together, and all young adult materials will be together.
“As a parent, my son is 12. He’s got a year or two and he will be getting into those things, and I can say, “This where you can go. You can look here. Don’t pull that out or look at the back of it. This is where you can be. This is a safe space.” I appreciate that as a parent.”
Mrs. Harmer has great anticipation for all that the future holds for the Richville Free Library. One thing she said she would like to implement is a dedicated tutoring or study space.
“You’re not home. You’re not at school. You’re not distracted. You can get your homework done, use the computers… Just having a place for them to come, and they get on the computer, do their work, and have a really dedicated space. They can’t get on absolutely anything. There is a growing homeschool community around here, and having a place where you are not in their home. It is not a visit. You are focused. You are studying. The books are available. You can look things up. It is just a really focused time. I am really hoping that is something the library is used for.”
Mrs. Youngs said that tutoring has always been something that could be done here when the library was not open. “It is hard to tutor when the library is open and there is a bunch of kids,” she said.
According to Mrs. Youngs and Richville Library Board of Trustees President Brenda Woodward, the Richville Free Library has also offered several workshops over the years in an effort to meet the needs of community – including genealogy, candy-making children’s workshops and so much more.
Much is in store as Britny Harmer takes the helm, and starts as library director on Monday, September 3. The new hours for September through May at Richville Free Library are as follows. Mondays, 2 to 4 p.m., Tuesdays, 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesdays, 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Closed on Thursdays. Open on Fridays, 2 to 5 p.m.
The Richville Free Library is located at 87 Main Street, Richville.
by Rachel Hunter