Library Buoyed by Gift

Alec Baldwin donates $250,000 for children’s wing
Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin

    Alec Baldwin has done it again.
    On Tuesday, the East Hampton Library announced a donation of $250,000 from the Alec Baldwin Foundation to assist in the construction of the library’s expanded children’s wing, which is expected to break ground in the spring.
    This follows on the heels of Mr. Baldwin’s May donation of the same amount to Guild Hall, the museum that houses the John Drew Theater, across the street from the library, where Mr. Baldwin appeared in a 2010 production of “Equus” and a staged reading of “The Gift of the Gorgon” in July, both written by Peter Schaffer and directed by Tony Walton.
    The donations are part of the actor’s promise to donate the proceeds of his commercials for Capital One Bank’s Venture Rewards card to arts and cultural organizations.
    Mr. Baldwin was chided as a hypocrite for his credit card commercials touting the large bank when he made an appearance at the Occupy Wall Street event in mid-October. The two-time Emmy winner made it clear that all the proceeds from those commercials were be given to nonprofit cultural beneficiaries.
    In addition to the East Hampton Library and Guild Hall, Mr. Baldwin’s foundation has also given $250,000 to the Hamptons International Film Festival. He serves on the festival’s board of directors and is a frequent onstage interviewer during the festival’s Conversations With programs. This year, he interviewed the actor Matthew Broderick.
    Mr. Baldwin has also made donations to the New York Philharmonic and the Roundabout Theater.
    A resident of Amagansett, he has been an active supporter of the library for a number of years, and recently served as the co-founding chairman of the Author’s Night fund-raising event in August. He is also an honorary co-chairman of the library’s children’s addition committee.
    The donation comes after the East Hampton Library won approval in May from the State Supreme Court to expand the existing children’s room. The East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals had rejected the library’s application to expand, but the state court overruled that rejection and ordered the village to grant all necessary permits.
    The new 6,800-square-foot addition, which was designed by the architect Robert A.M. Stern, will add over 2,000 square feet to the children’s section, and will include space for new computers, an additional 10,000 children’s books, and an improved basement-level handicapped-accessible meeting space.
    The parking lot will be expanded to accommodate 42 cars.
    Tom Twomey, the chairman of the library board and an attorney, said in May that the children’s wing was halfway to its goal of the approximately $4 million desired to break ground. Alec Baldwin let Mr. Twomey know his intentions to donate while the two were attending the Author’s Night in August.
    “He was at our house as an honored guest, as part of the event,” Mr. Twomey said yesterday. Mr. Twomey is married to Judith Hope, a former state Democratic Party chairwoman and former East Hampton Town supervisor. “There were about 40 people there, and at the end of the dinner, Alec announced he would make a significant gift to the library.”
    Mr. Twomey said that Mr. Baldwin’s donation kicks off the fund-raising campaign for the children’s wing, and the $250,000 “puts us at around $2.5 million, or 60 percent” of the money needed to complete the project, all of which is to be raised through private donations.
    Sheila Rogers, a board member and one of the organizers of the Author’s Night event, has been working closely with Mr. Baldwin for the past seven years. “He’s devoted to the library, as he is to many local organizations,” she said. “He attends the events and dinners. We can always count on him for help.”
    “We’ve got a good head start,” said Bruce Collins, the president of the East Hampton Library. He was referring to an offer by a board member to provide a $2 million matching grant. “We hope this will stir up donations from those who can afford it.”
    Mr. Collins pointed out that the library still has a few hurdles to jump. The site plan is currently being looked over by the East Hampton Village Design Review Board.
    Dennis Fabiszak, the executive director of the East Hampton Library, said in a release, “We greatly appreciate this generous donation for the library’s children’s addition, which will enable us in our ongoing mission to continue to provide outstanding library services to the East Hampton community.”
    Construction is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2012, with the completion date in the spring of the following year.


Comments

It's a wonderful library and kids love the kid's section. Libraries provide great services to communities that are often unrecognized. In such times, gifts like this are fantastic.