Groton on the Inside: State legislators announce grants for Groton Public Library


By Linda Competillo


On Friday afternoon, Aug. 3, I made my way to the Groton Public Library with great anticipation, having been invited by library director, Sara Knobel, to attend a reception at which Senator James Seward and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton would also be attending to make a joint announcement regarding funding for the planned library expansion.

While there is much to tell about the exciting future for our library, it is such a delight to be able to preface that by sharing the substance of their visit, which was to announce that Seward and Lifton had each nominated GPL for a State Assistance to Municipalities (SAM) grant for $350,000; totaling $700,000 to support the expansion project.

The library’s Board of Trustees has committed to a 2,000 square foot expansion of the library facilities to connect immediately behind the existing building. Groton’s own Lee Shurtleff, director and fire coordinator of the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response, and his family have generously donated the land needed for the project, but the preliminary estimate for the rest of the expansion is $975,000.

Following this grand announcement, a campaign has been officially launched by the Friends of the Groton Public Library to raise the remaining funds, with campaign committee chair, Carl Haynes, leading the charge. Haynes was the emcee for the festivities surrounding Seward and Lifton’s visit.

Haynes praised Seward and Lifton for their early and strong support for the expansion. He emphasized that without their extraordinary and significant commitment, it simply would not be possible.

Seward, now serving his 16th term, and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Libraries said, “Our libraries are significant educational resources that also serve as community hubs, which is certainly the case in Groton. The Groton Public Library continues to expand and find new ways to answer community needs and the state grant funds will ensure this valuable resource remains for generations to come. Library director Sara Knobel and her entire staff are to be commended for developing a wide range of programs and services that meet the evolving needs of the community.” He also acknowledged Shurtleff and his family for their generosity.

Lifton, now in her seventh term, and a former teacher, commented “It gives me great pleasure to have nominated the Groton Library’s expansion project for a state grant. The library has seen a dramatic increase in visitors recently, and this expansion will help accommodate that growth, as well as expanded programming for children, teens, and author visits for people of all ages.” She also thanked Knobel for her work in shaping the library into a true community center. “Libraries have become critical safety-net institutions in our communities, and the Groton Library’s expansion is an acknowledgment that they are committed to continuing this important work,” said Lifton.

Sheri Shurtleff, GPL board president, also spoke at the event, and stated “The planned expansion will include a large flexible space to accommodate the growing need for children’s programs; youth and teen programs, author visits, and more, thus allowing us to rededicate the front of the library to a quiet reading area that so many people enjoy.”

Also taking her turn at the podium, Sue Haynes, president of the Friends of the Groton Public Library, stated “Our fund-raising campaign is now going out to the community at large for support. I encourage all who value the services of the Groton Public Library to support this expansion with a donation or a pledge of support.”

The Board has committed $125,000 from its reserve funds to support the expansion, and The Friends of the GPL has raised over $90,000 to date. An anonymous donor has offered a challenge grant of $30,000 to match all donations received or pledged by Sept. 30. Those wishing to contribute may do so by sending a check payable to Friends of the GPL, 112 E. Cortland St, Groton, NY 13073, through PayPal at, or by calling the library at 607-898-5055.

Photography contest

The 10th annual Verne Morton Memorial Photography Show and Contest will take place Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 and 25 at the Groton Town Hall during Groton Olde Home Days. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, Aug. 22. Bring photographs and register at the Town Clerk’s Office, 101 Conger Blvd., which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

This year there will be a new Rural Heritage Award, sponsored by the History Center in Tompkins County. The winning photograph will become part of a presentation by the History Center that will highlight Tompkins County’s rural heritage assets.

Photographers of all ages are invited to submit up to two matted original entries; minimum size, 8 inches by 10 inches, excluding mat; no glass or frames. All photos must be your own originals, taken in the town or village of Groton within the past 10 years. For more information and a complete list of rules and categories, call 607-898-5035, email, or visit


Groton Olde Home Days

As has become tradition, the Cortland Olde Timers Band will kick off Groton Olde Home Days at the Groton American Legion on Main St. from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23.

In addition to the midway and many other old favorites, also joining the line-up this year is “CircOvation, The Superstar Supershow”, featuring aerial arts, at the new pavilion lot on Main St. These free shows will be at 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24.

When this column appears next week, GOHD will be almost upon us, so be sure to come back for an extensive line-up of all the fun and exciting things the committee has been putting together for the festival that Groton has been proudly celebrating for over 100 years, attracting thousands of people.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit items to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922


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