Having called the Catskill Mountains my home since 1993, I can't think of a place in Woodstock itself that I enjoy visiting more than the Woodstock Library. Tinker Cinema comes a close second. I love the quaint looking building it is housed in. Like Tinker Cinema, it is a source of endless pleasure and entertainment for me - due to not only their books and films, but also the charming though quirky old structures they're in. The library will go to great lengths (and distances, apparently) to lend me a requested book that it does not have in its collection. It has loaned me a book from as far north as Syracuse University, as close as West Hurley Library and Vassar College south of us. One can keep books (except for new fiction) for a long period of time. And it never charges a fine for late returns, which is a real boon. I have not had to buy many new books in the last decade for I don't have the space for them. If I bought some books recently they're mainly used gardening books from the Library's sociable book sales. The librarians are helpful and approachable, always willing to locate a particular book for someone or lend a hand to anyone struggling with one of its PCs. It makes its space available after hours for meetings of various groups without regard to their belief, persuasion or orientation. It does not even try to shush people who run into their friends and chat there, and regular visitors seem to have given up on trying to make it like a library of old where you could hear a pin drop. It is a congenial meeting place for the townspeople, much like a local market or a church is. It is of modest size though for a town of 5,600 people.
I was very pleased for the Library when I read that the awful-looking building next to it went up for sale and the library had a chance to buy it for a reasonable price. The icing on the cake is that the management and board of directors have recently appointed an ultra-modern architect, Joel Sanders, to design the Annex. I am a proponent of modern architecture and design - in particular, I believe that a structure ought to reflect the times during which it is built, for both functionality and aesthetics. And also for leaving a legacy to posterity. While Woodstock has shown itself to be resistant to certain changes, sometimes with good reason, I am optimistic that the design of the Library Annex will sit well in the rural environment and therefore with the town residents. This is because of the top reason why I love the Library so: it has a simple management structure that is not vulnerable to bureaucratic snags. I have heard only positive things about the current administration led by chief librarian Amy Raff and her staff. An elected board of directors helps her make decisions that have community-wide ramifications such as the annex design. I trust their judgment implicitly and anyway their meetings are open to the public. Finally, because it is a library district its operations and finances are necessarily more transparent than other not-for-profit organizations. The Library deserves our support for a multitude of reasons including the above. Part of the proceeds from Autumn Art Tour Project's ticket sales will be donated to the Woodstock Library Annex Project.