By Jennie Pikowsky
The 124-year-old building at 300 Orchard St., Fayetteville, used to house the Stickley Furniture factory. Today, it’s not only a furniture museum, but also home to one of the more modernized libraries in Central New York: Fayetteville Free Library.
The library’s Executive Director, Sue Considine, of Camillus, creates what she calls “equal access” for everyone at the library. Whether it’s access to digital devices, digital content or print materials, Considine provides a space for people to come together.
“We’re the seats of democracy, we’re the great equalizers. The public library is where everyone, regardless of their background, financial situation or level of education, has the same access to the same types of resources and opportunities as everyone else,” she said.
Featured in Forbes magazine recently, the FFL gained national attention last year when it announced that a 3D printer would be available at the facility for public use. FFL became the first public library in the United States to create a maker space.
With the evolution from print to digital content, Considine knows that for a library to succeed it needs to meet the demands of patrons. Through patron feedback, she knows what those needs are and develops methods to innovate a library-goer’s experience, on site and virtually.
“You should be able to walk into your public library and expect more. An innovative organization is one that’s constantly improving, assessing, forecasting and understanding what the contemporary need or interest of the community is,” Considine explained.
The FFL is at the forefront of this innovation. With resources and programs such as computer labs, eReaders for checkout, Blu-ray discs, Best Selling Author Skype Series, Early Literacy and Smart Play, the library is becoming an informal facility to congregate and explore.
The staff is also unique. The circulation desk is composed of graduate students pursuing degrees in library science from Syracuse University. Each staff member is trained to successfully operate the digital devices and the whole staff collaborates as a team to develop the next breakthrough.
One of the next breakthroughs on the list is to expand with the addition of an internal business center. The center would serve as a community-based access point for small business owners, entrepreneurs and others interested in developing their bright ideas.
“It’s the whole idea of creating access that allows people to come together to think about things in a new way, and to hopefully make lives better. That’s innovation in libraries,” Considine said.
Considine knows that what works today might not work tomorrow, so she budgets, plans and thinks that way. She is open-minded and unconstrained and that, she said, is what makes her unique.