Cooperstown library gets grant  for program series on race

FILEThe Cooperstown Village Hall, which houses the village’s library, is shown in this April 2020 photo.

The American Library Association has awarded the Village Library of Cooperstown a grant for 2021 as part of the ALA’s focus on “Libraries Transforming Communities.”

According to a media release, the $3,000 grant will support the library’s program of public engagement, “Looking in the Mirror: Cooperstown Reflects on Racism.”

The library and the Friends of the Village Library initiated community discussion and a forum for area residents and local institutions to reflect on the topics of race, diversity, and inequity locally.

In the release, Karen Katz, chair of the FOVL, said, “Our goal is to work toward a more just and equitable Cooperstown and environs.”

Writing in support of the grant application, village Mayor Ellen Tilllapaugh said,“The Village of Cooperstown welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors to our community, and being a welcoming community to all is extremely important to our tourism-based economy.”

The library’s initiative also works with the Welcoming Community program aimed toward the concerns of the diverse staff of the Bassett Healthcare Network.

Presenters said the ALA funding arrives at a timely point. Peggy Leon, town of Middlefield Council member, said in the release, “I know that both the Library Board and FoVL struggle to secure funds for their ambitious yearly programming. Though the entire area supports our beloved library and donates what they can when they can, there are many who simply do not have the means, and it is for them that the library and its resources is most important.”

Library Treasurer Robert Seward said, “Library revenue is down about 5% in an already lean budget. Without additional help from the Friends of the Village Library and the American Library Association grant, the library’s programs and acquisitions suffer.”

The “Looking in the Mirror” programs have incorporated topics such as the role of racism in history, tourism, law enforcement, health care, arts, monuments, education, the release said. Organizers said they are turning their attention to “where do we go from here?”

The library serves parts of Middlefield and Fly Creek as well as Cooperstown, the release said.

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