Broadalbin book station looks at ways to offer more

BROADALBIN – The Wilkinson Memorial Book Station on North Main Street has been giving people an opportunity to borrow books for free for more than 30 years.

It’s done this with a staff of volunteers and the help of contributions from local government and residents.

The unofficial library includes three small rooms of books on the first floor of the building.

The people running the book station now are talking about expanding the services. Marianne Milton, president of the Board of Directors, said she’d like the book station to get computers and more audio and video materials for people to use and borrow.

The book station’s operators are handing out questionnaires in the community to find out what people would like to see at the book station.

Some of the questions regard the hours of operation for the station, what a new reader would want to see on the shelves, and people’s general opinions about the library.

Milton, a Broadalbin native, said the book station technically is not a library by state standards. To be considered a library, it must have an accredited librarian on staff.

The station has more than 16 regular volunteers who donate their time to keep the place running. A not-for-profit group, the station runs on $1,000 annually from the village, as well as contributions from the town of Broadalbin and local residents.

“We sell some books, sometimes we get some donations in memoriam,” Milton said.

She said the station also sells used books on the porch based on an honor system. People can take a book and leave a few dollars.

Milton said the station’s money pays for the expenses such as new books and materials.

Milton, who started serving as the board’s president in January, said many of the station’s books are recent best sellers or relatively new books.

Milton said the station opened in the 1980s in the law offices of Joe Wilkinson, an attorney in the village. Wilkinson allowed organizers of the station to use spare office space. After he died, the American Legion bought the building and allowed the book station to remain there.

Milton said fewer people have been coming into the station recently.

“I think all libraries are going through this,” Milton said.

She said organizers hope to “figure out what we can do to fill the niche.” She said they hope to attract more local residents and readers.

Milton said her main reason for donating her time and effort to the book station comes from her belief that access to free literature is important.

“If you don’t have a library in your town, you’re really lacking a cultural basis,” Milton said.

Milton, who is retired, said when she moved back into Broadalbin after she had lived elsewhere for almost 18 years, the library was still being run by Ann Smith, former president of the board. Smith welcomed Milton back and showed her the library.

“I felt it was really important to continue,” Milton said.

The library is open Monday and Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.

Broadalbin Town Councilman James Wheeler, who moved to the town in 1989, said he has used the station occasionally over the past 24 years.

“I’ve used it more than I used any other library,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said the library is beneficial to the community. He said it offers a convenient place for local residents to borrow books.

Village Mayor Eugene R. Christopher said he has heard people praise the station often.

“It’s a great thing for the community, and we do make a donation to it,” Christopher said.

He said the library is up to date.

“Anything you want, they got,” Christopher said. “… They do a great job.”

Arthur Cleveland covers rural Fulton County news. He can be reached at