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Valatie Free Library

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Libraries

Mission: Begun in 1928 as a casual circulation of collected books, the Valatie Free Library Association was chartered in 1931 by the Valatie Parent Teachers Association. Housed in a local Church, the original library owned two-thousand books by 1939 when it moved to its current location—a 600 sq ft cottage. The library is a vital point of departure for academic, intellectual, and social inspiration for every generation, and there are many different ways that people engage with a library. The Valatie Free Library is a supportive guide and a learning template for young children and adults; it is a place for contemplative reading; a computer and online information resource; it is a community gathering place. The Valatie Free Library's role in the encouragement, foundation of literacy and the appreciation of literature among our future leaders—our youth—as well as a community resource for adults, has been constant for more than eighty years. Our long-range goals and beliefs include that of central meeting place for literary events including author readings and book signings, special interest and computer classes, and other local civic group meetings and events. The Valatie Free Library holds a unique position as one of the only organizations of its kind within the Valatie, Niverville, and rural Kinderhook area, and is poised to be a leader in the community. No other current initiatives in the chartered area of the Valatie Free Library offer the successful track record and the potential for positive growth as does the Valatie Free Library. We are dedicated to serving our chartered population equally and impartially; our vision of pride and leadership is long-term. Working on all levels, our plan anticipates and strategizes for the future; we are creating a sustainable library to serve generations to come, favoring legacy over immediacy. With your help, together we can improve the literary integrity of our community, making this a better place to live and work, while inspiring and empowering future generations.

Results: In the past ten years, the library has seen a literal explosion of activity; in 2002, the library offered just six programs for the public; last year, almost 140. Program attendance is up more than 1000 percent. Over a decade ago, the Board of Trustees commissioned an independent Feasibility Study, which concluded that the Valatie Free Library had outgrown our 600 square foot cottage--the space we still occupy on Church Street. Since then, a 2008 report from the U.S. Census Bureau found ours to be the only traditional population center in Columbia County that has experienced growth during the past decade. Importantly, also during the past ten years, our library's program attendance has risen 1000% (program statistics provided by Mid-Hudson Library System). The recent purchase of the 'Kinderhook Steam Railroad Freight Barn' for approximately one-half of the original listing price was a bold and prudent, visionary and results-based move by the Board of Trustees to make the most of the library’s cash assets, while simultaneously acquiring a landmark location and more than tripling the library’s operating space. The building was purchased with Capital funds sourced and solicited specifically for this long-range expansion project. In addition, the turn-around driveway at this location provides adequate parking for events and patrons; the half-acre property allows ample room for future expansion if ultimately needed. ‘The Library We Want’ Capital Campaign will raise funds for the retrofitting and expansion of the building to better serve our patrons and the greater community for years to come.

Target demographics: The children’s library is an important entrée to education, as children often visit their neighborhood library even before they enroll in preschool. An overall average of one-quarter of the area population is under the age of nineteen. Current population of the village of Valatie is 1,819 (source: US census 2010), and shows 26% of the population to be under the age of nineteen; the hamlet of Niverville (2010 population 1,662) shows 23% of its population under the age of nineteen. Combined with the Niverville population and the outlying rural areas served by Valatie’s library, the total chartered client base is nearly 4,400.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 4400

Geographic areas served: The Valatie Free Library serves the village of Valatie, the hamlet of Niverville, Kinderhook Lake, and the surrounding area of rural Kinderhook in Columbia County along the scenic Hudson River Valley of New York State.

Programs: Current library programs include weekly story hours, craft workshops, foreign language classes, tutoring, summer programs, and special events for children; Monthly Book Club, cooking classes, Knitting Club; computer and craft workshops for adults. In the past ten years, the library has seen a literal explosion of activity; in 2002, the library offered just six programs for the public; last year, almost 140. Program attendance is up more than 1000 percent. “Ten years ago we could fit programs outside, weather permitting, or inside the library after regular operating hours. Now, we conduct programs in a local church hall, a former village café, and the library. Scheduling events has become a challenge as we work around usage by other groups and try to fit larger groups of children into our current very small building,” says library director Elizabeth Powhida. “In the current library, seating and workspace are very limited. It is difficult and sometimes impossible to have room for tutors and their students, patrons using laptops, and people reading a newspaper or book at the one table [we have]. To accommodate this usage, we set up card tables in corners, making a crowded facility even more crowded,” says Powhida.

Community Stories

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I am a local citizen and President of the Kinderhook Tri-Village Rotary Club. Already a center of the community, the proposed new library will enhance the library's influence on the literacy of our local community. With computers, meeting rooms, and Standing as a symbol of environmental excellence, I look forward to the new library leading to the growth of community spirit in our rural community.


Board Member

Rating: 5

I first became a patron of the Valatie Free Library in 1963 when my family relocated to Valatie. Being an avid reader, I became a frequent visitor and when asked if I would be interested in joining the Board of Trustees I readily accepted.
Knowing that our current location has limitations the Board of Trustees has considered several options over the past several years and in 2010 purchased a property which we feel will serve the community for decades to come. The construction of the new library is something which will be cherished by all present and future patrons.



Rating: 5

The Valatie Free Library has come a long way since my husband and I moved to this upstate New York village 38 years ago. From relying almost exclusively on its in-house collection of books and periodicals, it now enables users to borrow a much wider range of printed materials and provides audio books, DVD’s, Internet access and a variety of programs for local residents of all ages.

To keep up with ever-expanding community needs, the library must relocate to a larger physical space. The Sustainable renovation planned for its recently purchased historic structure provides an opportunity to achieve this goal in environmentally “green” fashion.
Maryann Weber


General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been a patron of the Valatie Free Library for many years. In a way, it is like a second home to me. I have enjoyed a member of the Book Club, participated in the special programs, and attended many activities with my daughter. Also, the library has been especially helpful in providing support and space for me to tutor students from the local schools. Havin a new sustainable building would provide for me a stable situation and additional space in which to work.

1 Randall S

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Valatie Free Library is the center of our rural community. Over the past ten years our program attendence has risen 1000%. Our need for a larger space to properly attend to this growth is solved by our Sustainable Library project, which will increase our operational space without increasing our operations budget. Our community is very excited about the forthcoming construction project for the new library, and the Board of Trustees look forward to the important work of bringing this project to a successful conclusion for our area.