As construction crews prepared to install a terra-cotta roof on the new children’s addition to the East Hampton Library last week, good news came in from New York State: Under the Public Library Construction Grant Program, the library was awarded $342,262 to help fund its $5.8 million project. The grant included, the library has raised $4.5 million.
Since the children’s addition and the interior renovation of the building have been so far been funded by private donations, East Hampton Library Executive Director Dennis Fabiszak said the extra money will aid in fulfilling its fundraising goal, which will help foster a new learning experience for children.
“The grant will help a lot—the building is privately funded, and people like to sponsor individual things,” Mr. Fabiszak said. “Steel, concrete, windows and doors aren’t as attractive to donors, because you can’t put a plaque on them.”
Mr. Fabiszak and Thomas Twomey, the chairman of the library’s board, both said that the East Hampton Library most likely won the grant because the library hasn’t gone to the taxpayers for any of its eight additions over its 116-year history. Additionally, the library raises 40 percent of the money it spends for operating costs from private donations, according to Mr. Twomey. More than 100 individuals have signed on as honorary co-chairs of the capital campaign.
“We are ecstatic. This is one of the largest grants that has ever been given to a library on Long Island,” he said. “We are one of a few libraries in the state that always built our additions to the library with private funds, but our director gets most of the credit. He worked very hard with the application and in submitting voluminous information to the state to justify such a grant.”
As part of the same grant program, the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor received $227,041 toward the restoration of its 101-year-old building, the Shelter Island Public Library received $91,590 to improve the efficiency, accessibility and safety of the library, and the Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library received $63,762 in order to install an energy-efficient boiler.
In a press release, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said that a recent study showed a need for public library construction and renovation projects totaling more than $2.2 billion in New York State. He said the grant program gave out $14 million to libraries across the state.
The East Hampton Library’s 6,802-square-foot addition, designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern and constructed by builder Ben Krupinski, will allow the library to truck in 10,000 more children’s books, new computers and seating and add a separate space for young adults. According to Mr. Fabiszak, the space will encourage students to learn.
“There are a bunch of different ways to bring the educational piece into the room,” he said. “We’re trying to be creative in the space and make a learning experience. We want to encourage parents with young kids to continually educate them and help them learn to read.”
Although Mr. Fabiszak declined to go into detail about the design of the room, explaining that it must be a surprise, he said there will be elements that will be meant to engage children’s curiosity.
He did reveal, however, that a solar panel will be placed on the rooftop, which will serve two purposes: to save energy and teach children about solar power. The energy it generates from the sun will be tracked on a screen within the room so that inquiring minds can learn. He said designing the room, in concert with 25 board members, is architect and interior designer Lee Skolnick. Mr. Skolnick has designed exhibits at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, among other projects.
The addition was originally slated to be completed by Memorial Day weekend, but because of bad winter weather the finish date has been moved to fall 2013. Mr. Fabiszak said the snow slowed down construction and the delivery of steel was delayed. After the steel was put down for the floor, the ground was so cold that Mr. Krupinski’s crew had to use heaters to warm it up before they could pour the cement floor.
“In a way, it was good because we had more time to get creative with the interior design,” Mr. Fabiszak said. “We’re a little ambitious. We want children to walk in and fall in love with being in a library.”