How Massena’s library stays relevant after 125 years

Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 3:46 PM EDT
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MASSENA, New York (WWNY) - Massena Public Library will celebrate its 125th anniversary next Monday.

The building where the library is now located is 60 years old, but the system itself has been around since 1897.

It has changed a lot over the years, but library director Elaine Dunne says it has become more relevant than ever in the time of internet access to all kinds of books and newspapers.

“We’re not just a place to pick up a book and sit quietly and read. Libraries, particularly on Saturdays and late afternoons, are places of a lot of activity. We host all kinds of programs at the library, which didn’t happen in the past. Libraries have evolved to be more of a community meeting place. If you will - the living room of the community,” she said.

For the next seven days, the library will mark its 125th anniversary with multiple events including, an art show, pictures showing the history of the library and a music concert next Saturday.

According to Marie Kirwan, one of the library’s trustees, the library has been one of the most important buildings in the Massena community.

“It serves everyone. Children, adolescents, adults. It serves in so many ways - fitness classes; I teach yoga here. The library teaches Geri-Fit which is a weightlifting program,” she said.

Dunne says the mission of the library still is to help those in the community who don’t have access to resources that are considered too expensive for some households.

“What we are trying to do is offer affordable, hopefully free - as free as possible programming to our community. Things they can’t afford or things they are having a hard time with affording,” said Dunne.

From its start as a place for people to borrow books, the Massena library has become a place that brings people closer together, whether that be through reading or other programs that go beyond the traditional idea of a library.