VILLAGE OF FAYETTEVILLE – Libraries have long been known as dependable spots where visitors can relax and recharge, but now patrons of the Fayetteville Free Library can replenish their batteries in a more literal sense.
Aided by a hefty anonymous donation, some government-sponsored incentives and rebates, and the determined efforts of its FIRST Lego League Challenge team, the library at 300 Orchard St. was able to install two electric vehicle (EV) charging stations near the entrance of its public parking lot.
That Lego robotics team, made up of participants ages nine to 14, was presented in September 2019 with the side task of developing a proposal for a community improvement project.
Though they thought up several ideas, the team eventually settled on the environmentally conscious plan to bring chargers for battery-powered vehicles to their local library.
“The students gave a very convincing presentation illustrating why libraries are a great location for EV charging infrastructure,” said Heather Matzel, the executive director of the Fayetteville library. “So many adults listened to these kids with this great idea, and I love that they were so inspired by them that we were able to bring it to fruition.”
According to librarian and FIRST Lego League team coach Margaret Kingsport, the other EV chargers in the village can only be found at the retail-focused Towne Center and seasonally accessible spots like the Green Lakes Golf Course, where plows never go.
Through the pandemic, the library’s operations and facilities manager Laurel Flanagan arranged Zoom calls, met with vendors and remotely researched the topic of charging stations alongside Kingsport, information technology administrator and fellow coach Pete Cioppa, library trustee William Sunderlin and kids from the FIRST Lego League team.
The group in charge of the endeavor also called upon Village of Solvay trustee Ray Fougnier for guidance, taking into account his involvement with the introduction of charging stations at the Solvay Public Library.
With electricity in the air the morning of Aug. 25, the Fayetteville Free Library held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its pair of 220-volt ChargePoint stations, followed by an inaugural charge of four vehicles.
Since the rebates and the $11,000-plus anonymous donation took care of the entire cost of installation, from here on the library will only have to cover operating costs for the chargers.
Featuring two universal plugs each, the stations are suited for any electric vehicle, and though the amount of time required for a full charge depends on the make and model, 45 minutes will usually get a battery to 80 or 90%—enough to get from point A to point B according to Kingsport.
During the wait, patrons can enter the library for free during its hours in order to flip through books and retrieve information, all while staying cool in the summer or warm once winter rolls around.
The stations are, however, accessible 24/7, and usage is complimentary for the rest of 2021.
A ChargePoint card will activate the charger once its radio-frequency identification chip is held against the machine and the plug is inserted into the vehicle.
The FIRST Lego League is an organization that challenges students to design, build and pre-program robots made of Lego blocks that move around on a set field. FIRST is the acronym that abbreviates “For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology.”
The Fayetteville Free Library is presently looking for two people in the F-M district interested in projects of this sort who would be willing to join its board of trustees on a volunteer basis.