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Hornell Public Library: A Hub of Learning, Recognition, and Community Service

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Meet the team behind HPL and the many services offered

By: Johanna Elattar

The Hornell Public Library, nestled in the heart of Hornell, New York, stands as a beacon of knowledge and community engagement, serving the citizens of the town and the surrounding areas. The library has a rich history, dedicated staff, and offers an array of services and programs that cater to all age groups and interests.

At the helm of the Hornell Public Library is the esteemed Denise Chilson, who has shown a deep commitment to expanding the library’s offerings and promoting literacy within the community. It is worth noting that Denise Chilson recently received the prestigious Philip D. Archer Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship, available in 2023, is sponsored by STLS (Southern Tier Library System) in memory of library advocate, trustee, and friend, Phillip D. Archer. Mr. Archer’s lifelong dedication to education and libraries, especially those in rural areas, is remembered through this scholarship, which will enable a member librarian to attend the 2023 NYLA (New York Library Association) Conference in Saratoga Springs.

In addition to Denise Chilson’s recognition, Vanessa Jacobs, a dedicated library aid at Hornell Public Library, received the 2023 Sustainable Practices Award from STLS. This award acknowledges her exemplary efforts in spearheading transformative changes within the library and the community that focus on economic sustainability, social responsibility, and environmental awareness. It celebrates projects with long-lasting impacts on the community.

The history of the Hornell Public Library is deeply rooted in the community. One of the most complete libraries of its kind in Western New York, it was formally opened to the public in an assembly held in the basement’s Assembly Hall. Attendees included members of the Hornell Library Association, the Common Council, faculty from the City Schools, and clergy.

The library, located on Genesee Street facing Hakes Avenue, is a one-and-a-half-story building constructed of white pressed brick. It boasts an assembly room in the basement, committee meeting rooms, and general library spaces. Notable among its features is the David Cadogan Etz Children’s Library, a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Etz in memory of their son, filled with a treasure trove of books for the young readers of Hornell. The reading and reference room, located on the ground floor, offers an array of current magazines, periodicals, and newspapers, providing a wealth of information for all.

Hornell Public Library offers a wide range of services and programs that cater to the diverse needs of its patrons. Some of the notable services include:

  • Over 51,000 items in the library’s collection.
  • Interlibrary loan services to access books not available locally.
  • Delivery services to home-bound and nursing home residents.
  • Extensive selection of current magazines, newspapers, videotapes, DVDs, audio books, and CDs.
  • Online Public Access Catalog and access to NOVEL from home or within the library.
  • Handicapped accessibility.
  • Public computers with internet access.
  • Microfilm reader/printer.
  • Photocopying.
  • Public meeting room.
  • Fax services.
  • Bookable video conferencing room.
  • Digital video space.
  • Wireless internet access.

The library’s commitment to serving the community extends to its programming and special services, including:

  • Children’s programs.
  • Summer reading programs.
  • Teen programs.
  • Adult programs.
  • Computer training classes.
  • Genealogy resources.
  • Job information center.
  • Literacy volunteer site.
  • Outreach to seniors.

Hornell Public Library goes the extra mile to ensure that no one is left without access to its resources. The library offers a free outreach delivery service for Hornell residents who are homebound and unable to visit in person. Deliveries are made on the first Saturday of the month and must be registered for by the last Saturday of the preceding month.

For those interested in local history and genealogy, Hornell Public Library provides access to a wealth of resources, including historical local newspapers of the Southern Tier and digital collections of Hornell City School yearbooks. Additionally, they offer access to genealogical databases such as Heritage Quest, Ancestry Library Edition, and FamilySearch, allowing patrons to delve into their family history and uncover their roots.

Hornell Public Library stands as a vital institution in the community, fostering a love for learning, preserving history, and providing invaluable resources to all who walk through its doors. Under the capable leadership of Denise Chilson and with the dedication of library aid Vanessa Jacobs, this cherished institution continues to thrive, enriching the lives of all who call Hornell home.

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