The historic building in which it is housed, a former almshouse/orphanage/mental institution built in 1817, may still have a Dickensian cast. But the Hudson Area Library (at 400 State Street) may be the town’s most valuable and, yes, up- to- date cultural resource. There are a lot of reasons for this, among them the worthy educational services it provides to the community (a random sampling from this week’s schedule include “Adult Computer Classes,” “Adult Introduction to Spanish”, and “Children Story and Craft Hour…”) and the History Room, a repository of images and ephemera from Hudson’s visually edifying past.
My favorite, however, particularly since I live right across the street, is the ability to order books and media online from home, accessing the 90 branches from the mid Hudson library system. Hear about something on NPR, go to your computer, and bamm!—before you know it (ok, in a few days) you’ll be getting that smokey voice on the phone informing you that your copy of When Engulfed in Flames, Freedom, or what have you “will be at the front desk.” Although I hear that systems like this are fairly routine these days, I still find it a wonderfully novel amenity, particularly when the library in question is so centrally located in so small a town. (Some of the other great reading experiences I’ve had recently thanks to various participating lenders: Patti Smith’s Just Kids, Stephen Sondheim’s Finishing the Hat, Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, David Nichols’s One Day, and Hot Times in the Old Town, a historical account of the deadly New York heat wave of 1896, a perfect ghoulish counterpoint to recent blizzard-bound winter nights.)
There are other aspects pleasantly surprising to a former city slicker like myself: The overdue fee is still only 10 cents a day, the hours are good given these days of shrinking services (every day except Sundays and Mondays; Saturdays til 3); and just in case you’ve forgotten to pay your cable bill, there is a bank of nine new computers with free internet access to chose from. For those who have made the switch to reading on computers, the library has just introduced an e Books service, making them available on pc’s and portable devices such as Nooks, I Phones etc – everything except the Kindle at the moment. Soon enough we all may be wondering: why leave the house til Spring? –Scott Baldinger