BY MAT CLOUSER
PITTSFORD — Author, scholar, and esteemed librarian R. David Lankes once said, “Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.” It’s doubtful Lankes was thinking specifically of the Maclure Library in Pittsford when he said it, but he could have.
The library has been a cornerstone of Pittsford since 1796 and has been in its current location in the Walker Memorial building on Arch Street since 1895. Much love has been poured into the collection and the community over the last 200-plus years, and the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982
For the past four years, Library Director Shelly Williams has been the heart and soul of the library, tirelessly looking over the library’s collections, programming, patrons, and, of course, the building itself. You can often find her late at night working on grant proposals for funds like the one the Maclure just netted from The Preservation Trust and the 1772 Foundation.
In August, new storm windows were installed on 20 of the 38 windows at the library. Gone are the old aluminum windows, originally installed more than 50 years ago. In their place are custom-made wood storm windows manufactured and delivered by H. Hirschmann LTD of West Rutland.
A building of the library’s age and importance takes constant maintenance, according to Williams, who said she has been able to raise about $20,000 every year to keep the building looking its best. This year’s funding from the 1772 Foundation and The Preservation Trust was critical in ensuring the windows were both historically accurate and built to last.
Complementary to the beautiful brick building, the new storm windows will help with Maclure Library’s focus on energy efficiency—with the added benefit that the Route 7 facing windows will no longer rattle. “When I do something for the building, I want it to be here for 100 years—that’s my minimum,” said Williams.
“Historically appropriate, protective to the original windows, energy efficient, and absolutely beautiful,” said Building and Grounds Committee Chair Bob Harnish, speaking of the sparkling new additions.
According to the National Register, the library’s finely detailed Romanesque revival design represents the most sophisticated expression of architectural style in the Pittsford Green Historic District.
Of course, building or no building, it’s the books and the people on the inside that count, and Williams, the library’s only full-time employee, says she’s excited about some of the new programming.
She noted the demand for round-the-clock services that have emerged since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s not infrequent for her to field calls assisting patrons, even in the wee hours of Sunday morning, if that’s what it takes.
Theoretical Physicist Albert Einstein once said, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” Residents of Pittsford can take solace knowing theirs will be safe and sound at 840 Arch Street for years to come.
About the 1772 Foundation and Preservation Trust:
The 1772 Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the safe passage of our historic assets to future generations. The Preservation Trust of Vermont is a non-profit organization that seeks to preserve and protect Vermont’s essential character through historic preservation and community revitalization. For more information about the 1772 Foundation, visit www.1772 foundation.org. For more information about The Preservation Trust of Vermont, visit ptvermont.org.
The front vestibule is open 24/7 for pickups, access to the food shelf, and two shelves of books that function as a mini free library. “If you need a book and want a book—just take a book she said. “We’re not going to chase you around.”