Elting Library honors donors

Last Saturday evening the Board of Directors of the Elting Memorial Library held a reception during which they unveiled a plaque officially recognizing the major donors to the library’s 2006 capital campaign, which enabled them to renovate and build additions to the old library. Pictured are veteran library supporters Sally Rhoads and Mary Ottaway. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

After six years and a couple of unforeseen delays, Elting Memorial Library unveiled a plaque last weekend honoring the nearly 100 donors who helped make the 2006 capital campaign a success. That project cost $3.6 million and added a whole wing to the library.

“This group that’s going to be here tonight are ‘the Little Engines That Could,’” said Sally Rhoads, the former library board president. “If it weren’t for this group of true believers, we would not have this library.”


Rhoads — who is now the deputy mayor of New Paltz — spent years as a volunteer with the library, setting up the annual book fair and tirelessly seeking out donations. As the library president, one of the largest projects she undertook was helping to get the library renovated.

“It was a major project. And I believe if you ask me, of all the things I’ve ever done, this is my lifetime achievement,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Rhoads was on hand at the Nov. 3 unveiling to thank everyone who gave. “We did it. And I think that it is a testimony to this community that when people of good intent, good will and true belief come together, we can do anything. I still hold that view.”

It might seem strange that donors from a project several years ago are getting recognition in 2012. However, Elting Library Director John Giralico noted that it’s not too uncommon. Several donors gave set amounts over the course of time.

“You have to finish out presents and how the donations have been broken down. Not everybody gives the whole thing. They say, ‘well over the period of five years or so, I’ll do it.’ And that’s the main reason. Other libraries I know have done the same thing,” Giralico said. “When they’re all complete — at that point — you decide to have a plaque done.”

Elting Library officials had hoped to have the unveiling done in the spring. But the original plaque arrived in a state of shambles.

“The first one arrived and it was smashed to pieces. It didn’t ship successfully,” he explained. “So they had to have a whole new one made by the same company.”

Major contributors to the 2006 campaign were Mary and Jim Ottaway, the Town of New Paltz, Rhoads and her husband, Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation and many others. Not everyone who gave back then is fully known — a few gifts were made by anonymous donors.

Elting Library began its life as a house belonging to Theora Hasbrouck. When she died in 1919, the fledgling library got help from cousins Lanetta Elting DuBois and Philip LeFevre Elting. They bought 93 Main St. for $4,000 back then, but on the condition that it would bear the Elting family name forever.

Flash forward to 2000 and the Library Board knew that serious work needed to be done to expand the public repository of knowledge. After a process that lasted years, the 2006 expansion tripled the size of the building and gave it its current shape.

To see the new plaque, stop by at Elting Memorial Library at 93 Main Street in New Paltz. To learn more about what the library has to offer, head to www.eltinglibrary.org.