ONEIDA — The Oneida Public Library is looking to open its doors soon and introduce the community to its state-of-the-art facility. Construction continued through the COVID-19 pandemic and the move-in officially began in early November. The new library is seeing its shelves stocked, furniture moved, and rooms prepared for the day it can open to the public.
OPL Assistant Director Rob Sporing said the Library is looking at a possible opening come mid-January, but didn’t have an official opening day — especially with COVID.
“With COVID-19, we’re not sure what’s going on,” Sporing said. “But even if we’re not capable of having patrons come inside the building, we have a curbside window for drive-in requests.”
Sporing added that all requests for materials that have been made by Oneida Library patrons have been cataloged and will be made available as soon as possible.
Until then, Sporing and the OPL staff have been working to get everything ready for new and returning patrons — from the improved community room to the recording studio and teleconference rooms.
“The technology being put into the Oneida Public Library is probably some of the newest available to public libraries,” Sporing said. “I’m from Long Island and I was originally a director for a library in the area for 15 years. And [the Oneida Public Library] has everything you’d find in a modern-day library. And I don’t think I’ve seen any library that has more than what’s going to be here.”
And the technology itself was purchased thanks to a number of grants the Library was able to acquire, Sporing added. “Director Michelle Ryan got a lot of grants so all the items you see in the studio, the screens on the walls, and more are all from grants. None of it came out of the construction budget. And this equipment isn’t something you’d just pick up off a shelf at [an electronics store]. It’s all professional-level equipment.”
The recording studio itself features a computer, soundboard mixer, keyboard, two high-quality microphones, and a green screen.
“Patrons can come in and do things like podcasting, video editing, sound recording, green screen photos, and more,” Sporing said. “If people want, they can come in with their guitars or instruments, hook it up to the system, and make professional recordings right here at the Library.”
Streaming cameras will also be available to those looking to make use of a Go-Pro. After an introductory course on the equipment of the recording studio, Sporing said patrons will be able to make a reservation for the room in the future.
Right next door to the recording studio is a room being outfitted for teleconferences that patrons can reserve for whatever they need, whether it’s for telemedicine, a talk with an attorney, or any other meeting.
An art gallery was installed on the way to the community room, which will feature local artists on a rotating basis.
The community room itself is not only larger than it was in the previous building but also features a OneScreen computer capable of video conferencing.
“If we want to do something with an author, we can pull it up on the screen and they can hear and see everyone in the room,” Sporing said. “And presentations can be brought up on the phone.”
The history room is no longer hidden in the basement, Sporing said, and will be open to the public. “I think a lot of people didn’t realize it was there,” he said. “But everything in [the history room] is exactly the way it was in the old facility and full of local history.”
COVID-19 has changed a lot of what the Oneida Public Library has planned. While the new children’s activity room is all ready for Youth Services Coordinator Megan Gillander and her classes, Sporing said there are plans to host her storytime and craft programs in the larger community room to ensure everyone can socially distance.
But among more physical changes was the drive-in book depository and pick-up. Sporing said a change order was made during construction to include curbside pickup.
And whether the building is open or closed, the new Library has complete wi-fi coverage thanks to grant money, even out to the parking lot area.
In the day and age of COVID-19, Sporing stressed the importance of having options like this available to the public.
“There was never a huge need for teleconferencing but since COVID, everyone’s on Zoom,” he said. “And maybe someone doesn’t have internet access at home but they need to work remotely. In the last few months, we’ve made additions because of COVID. It was always planned to have wi-fi access throughout the building but there weren’t any plans to extend it to the exterior of the building until COVID. Now if we can’t open or someone doesn’t feel comfortable coming inside, patrons can still utilize the wi-fi.”
Check out the OPL’s Facebook page for the latest at https://www.facebook.com/OneidaPublicLibrary/
The OPL’s online services are up and running and available to all holders of a MidYork library card: Libby/Overdrive for e-books and audiobooks; Hoopla for downloading movies, TV shows, and e-books; and RB Digital for magazines and audiobooks. Patrons can access these online sources at the MidYork Library System web site www.midyork.org and http://midyork.overdrive.com. Those without library cards and eligible to have one can still access the online services by applying for an E-Patron library card.