Grand Opening of East Hampton Library Addition Saturday

A $6.5 million expansion and renovation of the East Hampton Library, which added 6,800 square feet housing a new children's reading room and the Baldwin Family Lecture Room, will be unveiled Saturday.
The expansion and renovation of the East Hampton Library, which will add 6,800 square feet for a new children’s room and the Baldwin Family Lecture Room, will be unveiled at a grand opening on Saturday. Morgan McGivern

An $6.5 million expansion and renovation of the East Hampton Library, which added 6,800 square feet housing a new children's reading room and the Baldwin Family Lecture Room, will be unveiled Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony, a musical performance by the East Hampton Middle School Bonnettes, tours, refreshments, and entertainment for children are planned. There will be a presentation of prizes to elementary and middle school students who submitted entries in the library's writing and drawing contest by the actor Alec Baldwin, who has donated substantial sums to the library.

Saturday's ceremony caps a years-long effort to raise money and complete the expansion and renovation. The opening will be commemorated with the placement of various items into a time capsule.

"It's been a long haul," Tom Twomey, the library's director, said. "We're very excited about the opening."

At approximately 4,000 square feet, the children's section is large and bright, including areas dedicated to age groups from birth through eighth grade. It allows for 10,000 more children's books, new computers, and other technology. Each area will have its own collection, computers, and furniture.

The Baldwin Family Lecture Room, on the lower level of the addition, will be used for film screenings, poetry readings, lectures, children's programs, and author and book events, and will house a state-of-the-art audio-visual system. In a partnership with the New York Public Library, the new system, which includes a 7-by-12-foot screen, will allow streaming of that library's programs, as well as content from other institutions worldwide, directly into the room. Mr. Baldwin's $1 million gift, bestowed in November, "made all the difference in the world as far as being able to outfit and install very sophisticated equipment," Mr. Twomey said. Mr. Baldwin, who is honorary chairman of the library's annual Authors Night fund-raiser, also donated $250,000 to local libraries, including East Hampton's, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The library's existing spaces and infrastructure have undergone a thorough refurbishing, such as painting, upgrades to furnaces, and new carpeting, shelving, air-conditioning and heating, fire sprinklers, alarms, and landscaping. including a children's "secret garden." For the latter component, Mr. Twomey said that Marders Garden Center and Nursery of Bridgehampton had been "stunningly generous." Without Marders, he said, "We couldn't have finished this job right."

The Hedges Room has been renovated and will now house media including DVDs and CDs. The Ed and Frances Barlow Media Room, where digital media was previously situated, will be an adult reading room that Mr. Twomey said would feature an elegant, living room-type atmosphere with seating. It has been renamed the Ed and Frances Barlow Reading Room. The project also included the addition of 16 parking spaces and a dedicated space for the library's sale of donated books on amazon.com. A second elevator allows for the entire building to be accessible to the handicapped.

The latest project represents the second of a two-phase initiative, following a $3.5 million expansion and renovation, completed in 1997, in which the brick courtyard and the side of the building housing the adult fiction collection, the Horticulture Room, the director's office, and the rear entrance were added, said Dennis Fabiszak, the library's director. The $10 million represented by the two phases was contributed entirely by local residents, and "not a penny from taxpayer money," Mr. Twomey said. "East Hampton always had a tradition, going back to 1912, of raising that from generous individuals in the community." As of last week, the library's leadership was still seeking to raise $250,000 to complete the project.


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