Baldwin Donates A Cool Mil

Actor’s gift for lecture room, simulcast system

       Funding for the East Hampton Library’s expansion and renovation, which is nearing completion, was substantially augmented on Monday with the actor Alec Baldwin’s donation of $1 million for the new children’s addition.

       Mr. Baldwin’s donation, made through the foundation that bears his name and on behalf of his family, will underwrite completion of the Baldwin Family Lecture Room within the library’s 6,800-square-foot expansion, allowing space for children’s programs, film screenings, poetry readings, historical lectures, and author and book events. It will also help the library’s principals realize their plan to install a simulcast system through which lectures from the New York Public Library and other institutions throughout the world will be streamed live to a 7-by-12-foot screen.

       With the donation, which Mr. Baldwin discussed in a conference call on Monday, the library has raised $5.7 million of its $6.2 million target.

       “I like the chance to finish something,” said Mr. Baldwin, who donated $250,000 to local libraries last autumn and is honorary co-chairman of the East Hampton Library’s annual Authors Night fund-raiser. “I want to do what I can to help them get to the finish line.”

       As a result of Mr. Baldwin’s donation, “we’re now in the home stretch,” Tom Twomey, the library’s chairman, said on Monday. “Alec’s generous foundation gets us close to the finish line in this marathon. The community will have one of the finest small libraries in America.”

       Mr. Baldwin, who lives in Amagansett and New York City, hinted at more donations to come. “This is not a one-shot thing. My support is ongoing,” he said.

       Libraries, he told The Star, remain an important resource, both for a community and for him personally. “The idea of going to a place, the sanctuary a library provides, is still real for me,” he said. “A dedicated place to read, turn off my phone, and disconnect with the everyday world, which is hard to do, is always worthwhile.”

       He recalled the bookmobile that parked near the house in which he grew up, in Massapequa, and confided that he purchased it when its use was discontinued. “I don’t know why I bought it, I have no idea. I just had to have it,” he said. “But that was a time when everything was print . . . a time with no Internet, no cable.” It is important to a community, he said, “to have an updated, high-speed connectivity at the library.”

       Since 2010, Mr. Baldwin has funneled earnings from his advertising campaign with Capital One Bank through his foundation. Most of the proceeds, which he said would ultimately total $15 million, go toward the arts, but various groups on the South Fork have benefited. This year, recipients have included Guild Hall, the Group for the East End, the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, the Amagansett Fire Department, the Peconic Baykeeper, East End Hospice, the Peconic Land Trust, Bay Street Theatre, and the Amagansett Presbyterian Church.

       “In some sense, you want to put your money on the winners, help out the people doing something great,” Mr. Baldwin said of the East Hampton Library and other local institutions such as Guild Hall and Ashawagh Hall, in Springs. “The only obstacle was money, and I was happy to help provide what I could.”

       With the completed expansion, the library will feature a cutting-edge audio-visual infrastructure. Streaming events live from the New York Public Library, said Sheila Rogers, the library’s executive vice president, “is something that has never been done here before.”

       Mr. Twomey promised a “new, innovative design that no one has ever seen in a library. We’ve invested heavily in that.” New equipment, he said, “gives us a portal to stream simulcasts from any place else in the world.”

       In addition, said Dennis Fabiszak, the library’s director, films and computer presentations will be features of the 60-seat Baldwin Family Lecture Room.

       The addition of a second elevator, Ms. Rogers said, will make the entire library handicapped-accessible, and, Mr. Fabiszak added, easier for parents with strollers to navigate.

       Mr. Fabiszak said that he hopes the Baldwin Family Lecture Room will be completed by year’s end, and the children’s addition by early spring. The children’s addition, he said, will feature a small-scale windmill, boat, and two lighthouses.

       Don Hunting, the library’s president, said that the children’s addition will have a private entrance from the newly enlarged parking lot, “which is going to make the adult part a lot quieter and private, as Mr. Baldwin likes and as we like.” Mr. Baldwin, he said, “has been very gracious in affording the library his time, talent, and his treasure, and we are most grateful.”