Under a brilliant blue sky, the East Hampton Library’s new 6,800-square-foot children’s addition was unveiled on Saturday morning. Hundreds of residents attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony before viewing the fruits of several years of planning, fund-raising, and construction.
“The children are going to be absolutely delighted,” said Tom Twomey, chairman of the library’s board of managers. Libraries, he said, are both “a place where knowledge, learning, and research take place” and “an essential element of democracy.”
Mr. Twomey praised the board of managers, including Donald Hunting, Sheila Rogers, Ann Chapman, Maureen Egan, Charles Soriano, Sara Davison, Deborah Walter, and Gail Parker. He singled out Mr. Hunting for recognition, noting that he has served the library in one or another capacity since 1964.
In a quote he attributed to Andrew Carnegie, Dennis Fabiszak, the library’s director, said teamwork was “the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” He recognized the entire staff of the library, citing the group effort that allowed the addition’s creation while the institution continued to serve the community.
Ms. Rogers thanked the 300 donors who contributed to the $6.5 million project, which included an extensive renovation of the library’s existing spaces.
Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, and East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell also delivered remarks. Mr. Thiele cited the persistence needed to accomplish the expansion and renovation. “The journey was long,” agreed Mr. LaValle, “but it was worth waiting for.”
“The people who live here really do meet the needs of the community,” said Mr. Cantwell.
That theme was echoed by the actor Alec Baldwin, who has donated substantial sums to the library and who presented awards to elementary and middle school students who submitted entries to the library’s writing and drawing contest. Those essays and more were put into a time capsule that is to be sealed at the library for 200 years.
Mr. Baldwin’s $1 million donation to the library, given last November through the foundation that bears his name, helped to underwrite completion of the Baldwin Family Lecture Room, situated within the expansion. The room is to be used for children’s programs, film screenings, poetry readings, lectures on local history, and author and book events. It houses a state-of-the-art audio-visual system.
Mr. Baldwin, who has a house in Amagansett, thanked local businessmen including Ben Krupinski, who served as contractor for the project. “It sounds clichéd about the community effort and everyone coming together,” Mr. Baldwin said after the ceremony, but “this really was that. This is a dream a lot of people had.”
The children’s addition features dedicated areas housing collections, computers, and furniture for age groups from birth through eighth grade. A mural teaches the alphabet to younger children, and the ceiling is painted to depict the sky. Custom light fixtures resemble both books and a flock of birds flying through the sky. An area for toddlers features twin 10-foot-tall lighthouses, and a 16-foot-tall windmill makes up the easy reader alcove. The librarian’s desk resembles a 16-foot dory, and windows are etched with blue waves.
Mr. Baldwin described the completed addition as “breathtaking.” “The beautiful child’s theme, the nautical theme,” he said, captures “everything about this community. They absolutely nailed it. It couldn’t be better. It’s a happy day.”
After a song by the East Hampton Middle School Bonnettes, the choral ensemble that opened the ceremony with the national anthem, the ribbon was cut, and residents and visitors streamed in to see the result of a decade-long collective effort to improve what Mr. Twomey called “a wonderful jewel box for the community.”