By Jasmine Willis
ATLANTA — A local library nestled in the valley of a historic railroad town has been breathing new life into the community by opening the next chapter of its already impressive story.
Located at 3 Beecher Street this charming community library has been all the talk amongst travelers and curious onlookers. It once hummed in the same building with the Atlanta Post Office for decades before finding a new home.
E.J. Cottrell Memorial Library now bustles with eager patrons and history seekers at the century old warehouse across from the Atlanta Depot. In the heyday of this town, it was used to store grain and potatoes. There are still echoes of the past within the walls of this building as you tour its rooms.
E.J. Cottrell Memorial Librarian, Jessica Pasquale said that she wanted to thank the community for all of their support in the move. A grand opening was held on June 10 with over 20 people in attendance. Pasquale gave this local reporter the grand tour of the new library and what is still needed moving forward.
“This open house is to show the community how much we appreciate them and all that they have done for us. I put together this event to show people what we are doing here, and get them used to the new layout,” she said. “I really love coming to work. This place really feels like home. We need more parking, but that will all come in time.”
Pasquale helped to design the children’s room with a tree in the corner she made with her husband. There is a stenciled black and white of children reading books on the wall. It even has its very own puppet show that was donated by a library in Elmira. The puppets were all donated by the 4-H.
There will be a children’s summer program next month featuring Thomas the Train. It goes in keeping with the library being situated near the tracks. Pasquale had a lot of the train track toys at home to bring over. She thinks it is a great idea to bring over for the summer program this year.
A list of needs was on display at the open house. The library still needs some donations and funding for the program room. It is a working progress still, but a lot has been accomplished in four weeks. The library moved over all the books, shelves, computers, counters, and other items from the original building. Many things have been donated and added over the weeks. It took several months to get the warehouse ready for the big move.
The library still needs the following: concrete, eaves and down spouts, and awnings in the main room, HVAC, electrical work, foundation work, and sanding in the public room.
E.J. Cottrell Memorial Library Director, Belinda Schuler said it was a huge relief to get everything from the old building over to the new one.
“I will miss the old place, but I love the new one. This place has really started to feel like home. I get a lot more people over here. Some people have told me they are so glad Atlanta has a library now, because they are just discovering us here,” she said.
Schuler said that programs have doubled down in size of participation and daily visitors are 30 plus. There have been more children coming in now that it is easier to access.
“I was afraid when we moved here that this place would become sterile, but it has quickly become our new home. We have brought in a lot of decorations that have made this place really feel like home. We have a lot here from Charlie Bush and his family on display. He was a local photographer,” she said. “What really surprised me was finding out how many people had never come into the library before. People are really interested in what we have to offer down here.”
E.J. Cottrell Memorial Trustee, Harold Kiesl said there have been many people from out of the area that come to this library now.
“I am really proud of the new building. We are in the process of gathering a list of jobs that still need to be done to get this place totally usable. I got a stack of pages a foot high that I have been working on. I enjoy the wooden look of the new place. We wanted wooden ceilings too but found the cost of heating was going to be too expensive. We went with the drop-down ceilings, and it is very well insulated. The best part is that the shelves were donated from the library in Corning. We were told to come down and get them. They were remodeling and these came from their children’s room,” he said.
E.J. Cottrell Memorial Trustee, Rob Harder said that he wanted to help design and make the dreams come true for the local library.
“This was part of the old train depot. It was the warehouse they used to store grain and potatoes. It is part of the history of the railroad. There is still grain in the basement of this place from a hundred years ago,” he said. “There used to be a mill out back. This place had been used for storage for the longest time. It was our hope to get this place up and running for the community to enjoy. We wanted to keep the character of this place alive.”
E.J. Cottrell Memorial Library got its humble start in 1921 after a group of legion members came up with an idea to create a local library. The Hyatt Clair Hatch Post No. 766 Atlanta American Legion formed a plan for the library. It was up to Austin Higgins to come up with the blueprints. It was decided that four legion staff members would manage the library and it was only open two days a week at the Lander House. This was a hotel in which the Cohocton Town Hall is now located. Now what to call this brand-new library? WWI Veteran Edward Jay Cottrell was the only son of Delano D. Cottrell, founder of Moore Cottrell Subscriptions Agency. Edward perished in The Great War in 1918 after getting sick. His descendants were deeply honored by the choice to name the library after him and would frequent it on many occasions. The young soldier had a whole attic full of books that were donated to start the library.
In 1969, the little library became part of the Southern Tier Library System that greatly increased the services in the community. In 1971, a final decision was made to move the library across the street to the old Atlanta National Bank. It turned a one-room library into a three-room library with more opportunity to grow. The addition of the children’s room in 1991 was a huge highlight in history. This library went from one employee with 200 books to the success story it is today with a full staff and thousands of books, videos, audios, programs, and community center.
The old warehouse that was known at Otto’s in the 40s has its own rich railroad history. It will combine rather nicely with the history of the library. Together it will become the next destination spot for all those weary travelers in need of inspiration found only in our most beloved books.
E.J. Cottrell Memorial Library is located at 3 Beecher St. Atlanta Ny 14808. You can reach
them at 585-534-5030. The hours of operations are; Mon. and Tues. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Weds. To Fri. 10 a.m. to 5 pm. Keep up with them on social media for updates on programs and events. Every Thurs. at 10 a.m. is coffee hour and every Fri. at 3 p.m. is puzzle club.