“Our foot traffic has increased, our circulation has increased, and our attendance in programs has increased since opening up in our new building,” says the new director of the Saugerties Public Library, Sukrit Goswami.
It’s been just under a year since the renovated and expanded library on Washington Avenue opened, and it appears to be justifying its $7 million price tag. Under Goswami in the year 2011, the library has almost tripled its computer usage, increased its program attendance by almost three thousand, and issued almost a thousand new library cards. In short, since its rebirth, use of the library has exploded.
Goswami is all smiles. He’s a young guy, and captain of one of the freshest libraries in the area, a bold and welcoming new construct attracting scores of new knowledge-seekers. He commutes each day from Albany.
“This place is gorgeous,” he says of the building.
Of course, he’s right. The walls are cream green and the air doesn’t carry the downer musk of old libraries; rather, it’s cleaner than a Hamptons Sunday. Lounge chairs sit in calm corners and beams of light shine through the windows over them. Surprisingly, the beams don’t light up copious drifting dust particles, as per library standard. The new Saugerties Public Library is bold and clean, not a stuffy book repository but a modern and friendly learning hub.
“My undergrad is in economics and business, but I took librarianship,” says Sukrit.
He’s obviously a bright guy; he dresses snappy and his office is neater than a germ warfare lab. He likely could have gone into a world-burning, low-stakes high-payoff career in economics or finance. He picked librarian. “It shocked everybody from my parents to my friends,” said Goswami.
“The last two years of my undergrad, I needed pocket money, so I started working at the science library at SUNY Albany. For two years I worked as a page, putting books here and there, assisting librarians,” he says.
“I thought ‘this is such a cool profession.’ So I decided, after I graduated with my undergrad and I got into the economics master’s at SUNY Albany with full scholarship, that [a career in economics] is just not me.”
He’s always felt at-home in libraries. “Even on Sundays when I was working there, I would just go to the library to hang out and study, and my coworkers were like ‘what’s wrong with you? You’re in the library on your day off?’”
It’s been a long ride for Sukrit Goswami.
“Right after I graduated, I got my first job offer in 2003 as a professional librarian in Glens Falls at Crandall Public Library; it’s almost as big as Poughkeepsie Public. So for six and a half years I was in Glens Falls, after getting my librarian degree and I thought ‘I need to do bigger and better things.’ So I went for an MBA. I did an executive MBA program so I could keep my job, and finished my MBA in two years.
“I got my first breakthrough in Cohoes Public Library,” he says, “and I just furnished my resume. Then I saw this job posting for Saugerties Public Library in January 2011.”
In fact, at a national library conference in November 2010, he attended a workshop held by Libby Post, an area crusader who helped spearhead the library renovation project. “She bragged about this building! And when I saw this opening, I thought, ‘that’s a brand new building, a brand new opportunity. It’s worth applying.’ Then I got the job.”
Like every profession, librarian is being streamlined by technology and has the potential to leave the not-so-savvy in the dust, but not Sukrit. He’s right on the ball. “I did kind of focus on lots of technology-related classes, which most librarians don’t do. But now, librarians are commanded to take those classes which I took eight years ago without any guidance.”
Rebooting the Saugerties Public Library system is a grand task, and Goswami is just the guy for the job. He’s aware of the need for public relations in his job. “It’s a transparent profession. We rely on taxpayer’s money, so I think it’s our duty to inform the public what we’re doing and how we’re doing these things.” He genuinely enjoys his work – “It’s a beautiful place, a beautiful library, a lovely staff,” he says of his new place of business.