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Politics and Government

Downtown Syracuse library undergoes multi-million dollar renovation to modernize for 21st century

Onondaga County’s Central Library, located in downtown Syracuse, has been undergoing an $8 million renovation as part of an effort to update and modernize the library for the 21st century, while taking advantage of downtown’s revitalization.

Walking down South Salina Street in downtown Syracuse, you cannot miss the large vertical sign with red capital letters that reads, "library." Beneath it is a street-level entrance with big glass windows for the city’s Central Library's new first floor, which is scheduled to be completed in May. Susan Reckhow, the administrator for city libraries, said it is significant because up until this point, the library has been tucked away on the second floor of an indoor business center.

“It’s going to generate so much more excitement because people can really see what’s going on in the library,” Reckhow said.

The library will include more than just books. Reckhow said the first floor will feature an audio and video lab as well as virtual reality, a 3-D printer and sewing machines. She calls it a maker’s space where people come to create.

“Libraries are changing and we need to respond to the needs of the community,” Reckhow said. "The library traditionally has been seen as more of a warehouse of information, which is absolutely still important that we provide that service, but the community needs more from us. We're moving into the 21st century."

Reckhow emphasized how the library focuses on workforce development.

“Looking for jobs, filling out resumes, using e-government," Reckhow said. "We can walk them through the different processes where they have to communicate with an organization or government entity online.”

Reckhow said they are looking to bring in the next generation of library visitors by having a teen space. It has taken several years to secure the funding for these renovations through county, state, and federal grants as well as private investment. Renovations of the different levels of the library will be completed by July and the best part, Reckhow said, is that the library is free.