Summer 2015

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President's Memo

Summer 2015 issue of Trustee

by Bob Presutti, LTA Board President


The library is an indispensable institution that somehow manages to get taken completely for granted.  The public library in all of its incarnations is a glorious creation that is hiding in plain sight.  There are, however, indications that the traditional concept of a library has seen its day and a new more user friendly version is upon us.  Take for instance the newly opened Hamburg Public Library.

Check out patrons walking through the door for the first time as they look around at the circular two-story addition.  Watch their jaws drop in amazement…the huge skylight and 10 large windows bring light indoors during the daytime. At night people can see the abstract mural made by community members.  The artwork, video gaming area and color inm the carpeting and walls are hints that this is not your mother’s and maybe not even your older sister’s library.


“Years ago, you were supposed to keep your mouth shut and not bring any food” Hamburg Library Director Jack Edson said.  Libraries were only about books.  Today they are coffee shops and museums, cafes and community centers, homework centers and movie theaters, paint studios and gardens.  “Books will always be our product” said Mary Jean Jakubowski, Library Director for Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, but she added: “We are not only about the books.”


Today in the Buffalo area, you can get coffee at the Audubon and Lancaster libraries, the Central Library’s Fables Café  is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast, sandwiches and pastries, and a café will be opening soon in Hamburg’s library.

This new concept in public libraries makes it different from any other institution.  It is public, in the true democratic sense of the word, and it is free. This value of being free cannot be overestimated.  You cannot hang out in the local coffee shop for free.  You cannot hang out in the diner for free. Even in the senior citizens center  you cannot hang around for free if you are not a senior citizen.  But you can hang out in a library no matter who you are, no matter what your income, no matter how you are dressed, no matter what your interest.  The modern library’s philosophy is simple: Come one, come all.


Courtney Young, president of the American Library Association, said “We’re evolving and transforming just as our communities are evolving and transforming.”

Libraries have succeeded in the past, and will have a strong future, by continuing to be the place where everyone is welcome to access and consume information, or just to connect with others.


(Kudos to The Buffalo News issue of Saturday, May 30, 2015 and to The Rotarian for material used in this LTA column.)

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