Ithaca, NY — The Tompkins County Public Library (TCPL) has been allocated $15,092 dollars of state aid to pay for improvements made to its entranceway in May.

The construction project is designed to improve the COVID safety of the building. Assembly Member Anna Kelles announced the allocation on Monday. 

As it is now, the library’s interior lobby features two automatic doors, which serve as a single way in and out. The plan is to replace this configuration with two separate entrances, and two separate exits.

Librarian Sarah O’Shea, said that the new entrance way will allow for the library to better distance patrons as they come and go from the space, and will be more functional overall.

The aid earmarked for TCPL comes from a $14 million dollar fund in the New York State 2020 – 2021 Budget. The fund is designated for library construction and broadband infrastructure projects. More than half of the over 1,000 public libraries in New York are more than 60 years old. An additional third of them are over 30 years old. Although TCPL doesn’t fit into either of those categories, having opened the doors at its current location in 2000.

A survey by the State Education Department found that New York’s public libraries collectively have over $1.5 billion in construction needs — needs that should be met between 2021 and 2025.  TCPL answered that they need $150,000 to renovate their youth service restrooms and add gender neutral restrooms. As far as the dollar tag goes, the reported need of TCPL is comparatively less than most of New York’s other public libraries shown in the survey.

The state legislature renewed it’s investment in New York’s public libraries in it’s 2021 – 2022 state budget. There’s $34 million set aside to help fund construction projects that will be announced in the Summer of 2022.

Jimmy Jordan is Senior Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn