Since 1913, The Rye Free Reading Room has been a fixture on the Village Green. Ninety years ago, residents walked in the door to borrow a book or read a newspaper by one of the fireplaces. They still do.
“Stories and information are the genesis of everything we do,” said Director Chris Shoemaker in an impromptu conversation this week. But technology and the pandemic altered the landscape, he added. “Fueled by the post-pandemic work-from-home economy, families are using the library in greater and expanded ways. Many spend a great part of their workday here; friends gather for games and conversation; we’re seeing many more caretakers.”
As the library board moves forward on preliminary plans to create a new Children’s Room and shore up existing spaces to protect the landmarked building when floods of the magnitude of Ida occur, Shoemaker said, “We’ve rethought the activities that were in the Children’s Room and it’s likely that whatever we do with the basement will not involve books.”
The theme of this year’s National Library Week is “There’s More to The Story”, which fits the evolving Rye Free Reading Room, which, said Shoemaker “is more than just books for the community.”
- Robin Jovanovich