Friday, August 8, 2014
275. Waterville, NY
As I entered this library, I saw two things that suggested this would be an unusual visit, but at first I didn't pay that much attention. The two things? An array of what looked like solar panels in a field beside the library, and a poster about the Barton-Brown Astronomical Observatory. I'll come back to these.
First, let's look at the children's area, with its four simple rules: Be kind to others, No yelling, No Running, Pick up all toys before you leave. An "artists' corner" displayed posters related to water. A sign asks "Where did I find this book?" and reminds the reader that "If you can't remember where a book is from, place it here when you are done. Thank you." There are whimsical designs on the walls, and a large bow window looks out to a garden area. There is a summer reading program with prizes, of course, and later on the day I was there kids would be coming in to create LEGO robots and watch the LEGO movie at 11.
There were also summer reading programs for teens and adults. An area with tall arched windows is set up as a "living room," with arm chairs and a small sofa. The non-fiction area is a quiet corner with a table and more arm chairs. It's a very inviting, comfortable space.
But about those solar panels.... When I asked about them, I was introduced to Jeffrey Reynolds, the Library Director. Now, this was a bit frustrating for both of us, I think. On my part, if you've been reading these posts you know that I'd had some recent trouble keeping to my travel schedule--but I'm very interested in alternative energy! On Jeff's part, he's very knowledgeable and proud of what the library has done, and he came from his office prepared with charts showing the effects of the panels. We accommodated each other quite well, I think. The solar panels provide about 35% of the electricity needed by the library, and on a good sunny day, excess power is sold back to the electric utility. This can amount to as much as $18.00 a day, and that that adds up!
On to the observatory. [Note: This is an observatory, not a planetarium. It cannot, for example, summon an eclipse just because you'd like to see one!] The observatory is a partnership between the Waterville Public Library and the Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society. The Society needed a permanent home for its telescope (now two telescopes); the library had land and is located away from the lights of town. So a unique building was constructed. It does not have the iconic observatory dome, but rather has a roof that is designed to be rolled completely away from the large room that holds the telescopes. These are large, sophisticated telescopes, equipped with GPS to help zero in on desired objects; one is particularly designed for photography. There is also a small room with a desk for computers, the "warm room" for observers.
The observatory building is not only practical but also esthetically pleasing. The door, for example, was designed and constructed of cherry wood by a local craftsman. It is decorated with twig art; be sure to look at pictures of the building on the library website (links below).This is a wonderful addition to the town and area, and a very fruitful partnership.
Before we returned to the library building, Jeff showed me where there will be an amphitheater next year, for performances of various sorts. There is also a path around the library, leading through a beautiful garden, which I understand attracts a lot of stroller traffic at certain times..
The library website with links to more information is at http://www.watervillepl.org/the-observatory/about/ and their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Waterville-Public-Library/57341617412. You can also find sites for the Mohawk Valley Astronomical Society.
Thanks for the tour, Jeff. I hope I wasn't too impatient--I really was interested!