SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library has been named the Academic Library of the Year by Rochester Regional Library Council.

Milne was chosen from libraries within a five-county region, including Monroe and Livingston.

Council members cited Milne staff’s effort to provide access to the library’s materials and support students and faculty, including in a virtual environment, during the pandemic, an unplanned closure of the library, and moving the library, as well as processing collections into two different storage areas.

Library services are being provided at the new Fraser Hall Library while Milne undergoes a $35 million renovation. The new facility is expected to open in 2024-2025. The renovation project is a collaboration between the State University Construction Fund and SUNY Geneseo’s provost’s office, and facilities and library teams.

“I am so proud and privileged to be working with such an incredible team of dedicated library staff members,” says Corey Ha, library director. “We’ve gone through so many challenges just in the last 18 months that some libraries may go through in their lifetime. However, we persevered, stayed together, worked hard to provide the best library services to our users.”

The library has been closed since Jan. 6, 2020, after asbestos particulate was first discovered Jan. 6 by the library’s custodial staff. It appeared the particles had fallen from the library’s acoustical ceiling, and the library was closed later that day.

The college’s original intent was to remove the asbestos during a semester-long abatement, but in February 2020 SUNY Geneseo President Denise Battles announced her decision to move forward with a $35 million overhaul of the space that had been scheduled to begin in 2022.

“While it is true that the presence of asbestos in a building does not constitute a health threat, and air quality testing shows the air in Milne does not pose any risks, we wanted everyone to feel completely comfortable visiting our library,” Battles said in an email to students and staff. “We believe that asbestos abatement would be a temporary solution, one that will inevitably delay our ultimate goal: to fully modernize our library and enhance our library resources.”

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