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Byron-Bergen Public Library

Explore the secrets of the Boston Tea Party, 250 years later

By Press Release

Press Release:

Byron-Bergen Public Library and Richmond Memorial Library are pleased to co-host a virtual event; Steeped in Secrecy: The Boston Tea Party, 250 Years Later. 

The program will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. To register, visit This is a chance to attend a library program from the comfort of your own home!

The story of tea has always been infused with intrigue, particularly when it became a flash point for tensions between England and Colonial America. 

Learn about the brewing political problems tea presented in its history with Anglophile and former UK resident Claire Evans. Next, author, genealogist, librarian, and former UK resident Debra Dudek examines the history of the Boston Tea Party’s most famous partiers (and phonies), as well as how to trace bona fide participants through lineage societies and historical groups.

Registration is required at A recording of the program will be available to view for one week following the event. Those who register will also receive an informational resource packet via email.

About the presenters: 

Submitted photo of
Claire Evans

Claire Evans is an author, former journalist, attorney, and college lecturer who started her love of most things British as she and her mother watched countless Britcoms on PBS. She studied abroad in London and, against the odds, she married a Brit she met in Peoria, Illinois. They lived in England for several years. Her business, Tea with Claire, grew from friends asking for travel advice. Her memoir, High Tea and the Low Down is the true story of what it's really like to marry a witty Englishman and move to Britain.

Submitted photo of
Debra M. Dudek

Debra M. Dudek is Head of Adult and Teen Services at the Fountaindale Public Library District in Bolingbrook, IL. She holds a post-graduate certificate in Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

For more information about Byron-Bergen Public Library, For more information about Richmond Memorial Library, visit

B-B library board grateful for support: Bergen gets new tax, Byron funded by town

By Joanne Beck

Although the Town of Bergen vote and the total number for Byron-Bergen Public Library’s Proposition 3, known as Municipal 414, was favorable, the measure will only go into effect for the Town of Bergen, where residents’ yes supported the 55-cent annual tax with a majority yes vote.

Library Board President Sally Capurso clarified that with a statement Wednesday evening. She first thanked all voters who supported the proposal on behalf of the board of trustees. 

“We are especially grateful to the residents of the Town of Bergen, where the proposal was passed, affording us the opportunity to become self-sustaining,” Capurso said. “Although the proposal did not pass in Byron, we were heartened by the support in that area. The Library will now receive the 55 cents/1,000 assessed value from the residents of the Town of Bergen. The BBPL Board of Trustees will continue to make annual requests to the Byron Town Board. The Byron Town Board has included a $6,200 contribution to the library in their 2024 budget.”

The Batavian had previously listed a total vote from both towns of 689 yes to to 618 no. Byron’s no vote outweighed the yes by 303 to 255, and since each town is counted separately, the new tax will not go into effect for Byron residents. 

Byron-Bergen library board seeks to establish municipal status, separate tax rate with Nov. 7 vote

By Joanne Beck
Mural on B-B library wall
Part of the iconic mural painted on the exterior wall next to the parking lot of Byron-Bergen Public Library.
2017 File Photo by Maria Pericozzi

As president of the Byron-Bergen Public Library, Sally Capurso has a tough job, not only in making ends meet but more recently in pitching an idea to raise revenue through the creation of a 414 municipal library. Other options have been researched, and this seemed to be the most viable choice for ensuring a sustainable public library, she said.

The upside is that it would establish a regular operating budget through an ongoing, no-surprises tax to property owners — one that Capurso and trustees believe is well worth the cost to have solid library programs, staff, hours, and materials without the concern that the library might one day be in danger of existing or losing services due to lack of funding. 

“And this way, taxpayers will earmark a specific amount of their tax dollars for the library. So this funding will make it sustainable for us, and dependable so that we will always know the amount of money that we will be having in our budget,” Capurso said during an interview with The Batavian. 

“Prior to that, we’d have to ask the town boards in both Byron and Bergen for money. And we will simply ask for a certain amount of money, and then the towns will decide how much they want to contribute, and that’s for each town. So it's a little bit of a problem, sometimes, because we figure out our budget, taking what we need, and then we don't barely get what we need.”

The 2023 budget they had to meet was $133,738. And the towns of Byron and Bergen kicked in $6,500 and $74,499, respectively.  That left a gap of more than $52,700 that the library had to come up with in other ways, and it’s a struggle each year, Capurso said. 

It receives a yearly average of $3,500 from Genesee County and $1,500 from New York State. The remaining funding is done through fundraisers and grants that are never guaranteed or known upfront, Capurso said.

And some of those funds cannot be used for library operations and salaries, but instead must go for miscellaneous programs, Barclay said.

Of course, there’s the challenge of pitching a new way of doing things, and it comes with a 55-cent per $1,000 assessed value price tag. However, how much is your library worth to you, your children, and your family, Capurso and trustee Anna Marie Barclay want to know. 

According to 38 studies on other libraries’ returns on investment, “the return value for public libraries is four to five times the amount invested,” their presentation material states.

And simply using the library card to check out books versus buying them can save a patron $624 a year, the material states.

Both towns have the library cost rolled into their budgets, as that’s the way it has worked up to now. So, residents have been paying for the library, it just hasn’t been a separate line item as it would be now, Capurso said. 

“Most people aren’t aware where each dollar goes,” she said. “The Library annually asks each Town Board for funding. Each Town Board then decides how much money to contribute. The Town of Bergen also provides the Library with its physical space, utilities, and general upkeep/maintenance according to the existing rental agreement. 

“Our current level of services and programs, reflecting the needs of the community, requires more funding than the Town Boards have provided,” she said.  “We are recommending that voters earmark their tax dollars for the Library so that the basic operating costs are covered, and we can reliably maintain, or increase, the current level of service to the community. A vote in favor of the proposition (Municipal 414) will allow the Town Boards to collect the taxes on behalf of the Library and turn these funds over to the Library directly.”

The women have been making the rounds, presenting this information to both towns to raise awareness of the proposed change and the related upcoming vote on the Nov. 7 ballot. They received enough initial support through signatures to get the issue on the ballot — requiring 96 and obtaining approximately 145 in Byron, and needing 137 and obtaining more than 200 in Bergen. Now they are trying to see it through to approval.

How has the feedback been so far?

“It’s mixed; people are very concerned about the cost at this point in time,” Barclay said. “We’re very hopeful.”

The tax of 55 cents per $1,000 would mean a yearly bill of $55 on a home assessed at $100,000. How is that money spent? 

“Most of our budget goes towards basic operating expenses: personnel costs, rent, and other expenditures necessary to meet our patrons’ growing requests for current circulation materials,” Capurso said. 

Other expenses are for mandatory wage increases, employee benefits, including retirement, bookkeeping and payroll/accounting and auditing costs, and lawyer fees.

A portion of the money raised will also go toward computer software and upgrades, other community services and outreach, hosting more programs and special events, plus the new position of a children’s library clerk will be added with a focus on children’s book clubs, summer reading programs, and preschool story hours.

The library provides a popular summer reading program, a book club, craft workshops, yoga, scavenger hunts, tax preparation help, babysitting classes, computer usage, Wi-Fi hot spots on loan, home repair classes, low-cost copier and fax use, and books, movies and other materials for use and check-outs. 

If the measure is defeated, there is the potential for library hours to be reduced, and staff and/or programs to get cut. That isn’t meant to be a threat, but there may come that point when tough decisions have to be made, Capurso and Barclay said. They remembered when the Gillam Grant Library closed several years ago as a disappointing but necessary reality for the community.

“The Library will work hard to meet the needs of the community, but we may have to make adjustments. The Library may need to reduce programming, hours, and purchases,” Capurso said. “If the Byron-Bergen Public Library would no longer exist, current patrons would need to seek alternative libraries.”

Research was done about converting Byron-Bergen’s library to a school library, however, it was discovered that due to county crossovers into Monroe, that wasn’t possible, Capurso said. 

The Batavian reached out to both town supervisors for a response to how this initiative will affect their town budgets. Theoretically, if residents approve the library tax, that amount of money would come out of the portion that the town would have paid. No reply had been received by the time of this article’s publication. 

The proposition states: 

“Shall the Town of Bergen (Byron) establish an annual tax in the amount of $0.55/1,000 (fifty-five cents per one thousand dollars) of assessed real property value in order to support the operation of the Byron-Bergen Public Library, commencing in the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2024.”

Early voting begins Oct. 28 and runs through Nov. 5 at ARC Community Center, 38 Woodrow Road, Batavia before the general election vote on Nov. 7 at each each town hall’s polling site. 

Capurso will be making another presentation about the proposition to create a municipal 414 library at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Hidden Meadows Clubhouse, Route 19, Bergen. 

For more information, email or call (585) 494-1120.

Virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate B-B library renovations is Sept. 26

By Press Release

Press release:

The Town of Bergen and the Byron-Bergen Public Library will host a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. to celebrate the renovations that were completed last spring at the 13 S. Lake Ave. building.

The ribbon cutting was originally scheduled for April but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While officials will be in attendance at the library for the ceremony, the public is asked to join the celebration remotely via the Byron-Bergen Public Library Facebook page.

The purpose of the renovations was to remove the architectural barriers that prevent people with physical disabilities from fully participating in the numerous social, educational, recreational and civic activities provided at the facility.

The building also houses the offices of the Town Assessor and Town Code Enforcement Officer.

The work included: renovation of restrooms and kitchenette; new carpeting; new electric and fire alarm system; accessible doors; new entryway; new circulation desk; new lighting; renovation of offices, multipurpose and storage rooms.

The project was funded by a SAM grant through Senator Ranzenhofer, a NYS Library Construction grant and the Library itself. The renovations were designed by Architect David Strabel and the general contractor was Whitney East.

“The Byron-Bergen Public Library has long been a valuable asset to our community,” said Bergen Supervisor Ernie Haywood. “Now it is a facility that is accessible and modernized. The public will be able to enjoy it for many years to come.”

Upcoming events at the Byron-Bergen Public Library

By Billie Owens
Here are items of note occurring in September at the Byron-Bergen Public Library, located at 13 S. Lake Ave. in Bergen.
  • The Bergen Historical Society will meet beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5th, in the Library Meeting Room. The public is invited to hear a presentation by Gina Schelemanow on the history of the Cook family of Byron and Clarendon. Refreshments will be served following the program. 
  • Maker Space Saturday is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 7th. Come and try an experiment! No registration needed.
  • Monthly Book Discussion Group meets at 7 p.m. on Sept. 12th. This month's book is "The Little Paris Bookshop." Come and enjoy the fun.
  • Toddler/Preschool Storytime will run Fridays starting at 10:30 a.m. beginning Sept 13th. Join Miss Bailey for stories, a craft and a treat! For ages 2-5, but younger children are welcome with a parent/guardian. Registration appreciated.
Phone is 494-1120.

Local artist finishes mural in Bergen, dedicating final product to 'Tally'

By Maria Pericozzi


Dave Burke finished the mural on the back of the Byron-Bergen Public Library, dedicating it to Eileen Almquist, better known as "Tally."

Almquist was the director of the Byron-Bergen Public Library before she retired in 1993 and she was also the town historian for 21 years.


The Bergen Town Board approved the mural and gave Burke the idea of depicting a train, because it is a part of Bergen. 





Nancy Bailey, the manager of the Byron-Bergen Public Library, said when she walked in the building every morning the parking lot was boring. She originally just wanted flowers painted on the wall, but said she is really excited about the final product. 



Byron-Bergen Public Library seeks grant to redesign space, fitting handicap needs

By Maria Pericozzi


The Byron-Bergen Public Library is seeking a Community Development Block Grant, with the hopes of making the library handicap accessible.

Don Cunningham, the Bergen town supervisor, said the project is estimated at a total of $267,630.

“There would be a matching portion on the town’s obligation,” Cunningham said. “The library is also looking at possibly getting Nioga grant support for the same project, but that has yet to be determined.”

Cunningham said the plan includes significant renovations to the bathrooms, access to the library and the library counter.

“This is a win-win situation for the town and us,” said Nancy Bailey, the library manager. “It will help not only handicap people, but also young people with children in strollers.”

Bailey said the grant is in the beginning stages, but she is optimistic that construction could start next fall.

“I’d love to have the ability for easier access to the library,” Bailey said. “Just changing the scope of that and redesigning the space to meet the needs of the community is a great thing.”

Bailey said if they don’t receive the grant this year, they will apply again.

“I’m excited, but apprehensive,” Bailey said. “I don’t think we have a plan B if we don’t get the grant, so that might be why.”

Mural being painted on Byron-Bergen Library

By Maria Pericozzi


Nancy Bailey, the manager of the Byron-Bergen Public Library, said when she walked in the building every morning, the parking lot was boring and uninviting.

The parking lot was remodeled about a year ago and there was a big empty space on the wall. She said it was the perfect space for a mural. 

She applied for a Decentralization Grant from New York State through the Council on the Arts. Once the grant was approved, local artist Dave Burke got to work designing a mural that would reflect the community.

“The board members said we definitely needed a train because it was a big part of Bergen,” Burke said. “It also has farmland, birds and a swamp, and will have a part of the trail.”

Burke has been an artist all his life, but this is the first mural he has done. He usually paints on canvas or boards using watercolor or acrylics.

“The last couple years, I just started painting all the time,” Burke said. “Work and other things just got in the way. I wish I had done this 30 years ago and totally concentrated on painting.”

Burke mixes his own colors with acrylic paint and will seal the mural with clear varnish when it is completed.

The mural is dedicated to Eileen Almquist, the director of the Byron-Bergen Public Library, before she retired in 1983. Her picture is also painted on the mural, surrounded by children and books.

“Somebody suggested to put her up there,” Bailey said. “It looks really neat with her up there.”

Bailey said once the mural is completed, she would like to put park benches and chairs behind the library.

“It seems like a pleasant place to sit,” Bailey said. “It gets enough shade here in the late afternoon and some early morning sunshine.”

Bailey said there will be an unveiling when the mural is completed. 




'Silly Bandz Swap' at Byron-Bergen Public Library

By Daniel Crofts

Hey kids -- like Silly Bandz? Then come to the Byron-Bergen Public Library at 7 p.m. Thursday for a Silly Bandz Swap! You'll have the chance to swap with other Silly Bandz fans as well as play games, enjoy refreshments and win prizes!

This event will take place at the library, at 13 South Lake Ave. in Bergen. For further details, call the library at 494-1120.

Event Date and Time

Dave Ruch's 'Musical Fun Concert' at Byron-Bergen

By Daniel Crofts

The Byron-Bergen Public Library invites everyone to join them in celebrating the end of their Summer Reading Program with a concert by Dave Ruch, whose music is both interactive and entertaining!

This program is made possible by the New York State Council for the Arts' "Decentralization Program." It is free, open to the public, and lasts from 7 until 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

For more details, please call 494-1120.

Event Date and Time

Bergen Book Sale

By Susan Brownell

Byron-Bergen Public Library is having a book sale.

Stop in to buy fiction, nonfiction, VHS, audio books, and children’s books!!

Something for everyone!!

Event Date and Time

Bergen Book Sale

By Susan Brownell

Byron-Bergen Public Library is having a book sale.

Stop in to buy fiction, nonfiction, VHS, audio books, and children’s books!!

Something for everyone!!

Event Date and Time

Bergen Book sale

By Susan Brownell

Byron-Bergen Public Library is having a book sale.

Stop in to buy fiction, nonfiction, VHS, audio books, and children’s books!!

Something for everyone!!

Event Date and Time

Byron-Bergen library trustees cite 'loss of venue,' cancel 2009 craft fair

By Billie Owens

A press release:

On Sept.14, the Byron-Bergen Public Library's Board of Trustees voted to put the annual Craft Fair on hold until 2010 due to the loss of our venue. The Board of Trustees understands the importance of this annual event and is fully committed to securing a new location. That process will begin early next year in anticipation of a Fall event. Please watch for additional details as they become available.

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