Tag Archive | "John Jermain Memorial Library"

Catherine Creedon

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In advance of her talk for the Sag Harbor Historical Society this weekend, the director of the John Jermain Memorial Library talks about the building project meant to bring Sag Harbor’s library into the 21st century and how the way people are using their local library is changing, and not necessarily in the ways you would guess.

It has been about a year since JJML was given approval to move forward with the restoration of its historic library and now the expansion is also in full swing. Does it even seem real after all of these years?

This has truly been an ever evolving and unfolding process, but for me, I don’t think it ever didn’t seem real. It was exciting that we finally got our permits in place but I always had confidence in this community and the village to see this through to a positive end with the library team. It might have taken longer than we expected, but I have been able to picture this project as a reality for a long time.

Where is the building project at right now?

We are still working on the restoration of the façade and the interior. The stained glass laylight has been removed and out of our first New York State Library Construction Grant we were able to take that laylight apart, clean the glass and re-lead it. That is completed and will be moved back to the library when construction is nearly finished. We also picked out our mortar, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds. It took us four tries to get the historic look we were looking for and we ended up using a local sand rather than one that was manufactured to get there and it is perfect. We are 45 percent done with the re-mortaring, which is being done by hand. We are also working on our dome and we do need to do some additional probe work to see how solid it is and engineer it so it is good for another 100 years. The windows have also been taken out and are being restored.

We expect to break ground on the addition in July, be framed by November and will complete both interiors of the old and new library after that.

Working with a 102-year-old building, how has the library’s architects attempted to highlight the original building with an addition that nearly doubles the size of JJML?

Visually, the new addition is actually a few square-feet bigger than the existing building, but it sits lower, below the limestone cornice. It is an airy building, shadowed. It visually recedes from the historic building. The end of that addition is also of the scale, size and height of the residences that line Jefferson and Union streets, so from Main Street it should almost read as two additional structures behind our library, blending into the surrounding community.

Aesthetics aside, just as architecture has changed, so has the use of libraries. As a life long librarian how are we using libraries in this day-and-age?

I think that is one of the most exciting things about the building project and what I want to talk about at the Saturday lecture is this could not have come at a better time for the people of Sag Harbor. While in our temporary space, we have been learning a lot about how people use the library in Sag Harbor. We have taken that knowledge and incorporated it into how the interior of our new library is being developed.

What changes have you seen?

First, there is the obvious shift from print to electronic media, but there is a general openness to understand information comes in a variety of different forms and one of the most popular formats at the library has been face-to-face instruction. In March and April of 2011, we had 211 people use our programs. In 2012 over 500 people used our programs over the same period and we are in a smaller space. We showed the movie “Forks Over Knives” and we had 46 people come to that public showing because I think there is a real interest in the community in terms of looking at the library as a place for public discourse. Even though this movie could have been checked out, people felt it was a topic best understood in conversation with others.

How has that changed the building project?

We have gone back to the architects and made the back wall of a meeting room a NanaWall that can be pulled back to open that area up to the lobby for larger gatherings. A staff and storage area has been converted into a content creation lab with voice recognition software, movie and music editing tools and my dream is to have a 3-D printer. Another big thing we are seeing and trying to incorporate is that traditionally libraries served individuals, but we are a larger part of the Sag Harbor community. So we are trying to develop programming for business owners, looking into collaborative programming like this talk, working with GeekHampton on technology related programming and partnering with Alateen and AARP to provide meeting space.

At the end of the day, I really see this restoration and expansion as being a metaphor for everything else we are doing at JJML.

The Sag Harbor Historical Society will host its luncheon with Catherine Creedon on Saturday, June 2 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at The American Hotel on Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information or to register, call Nancy Achenbach at 725-5092.

Student Writers Have a Reading of Their Own

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By Claire Walla


Eighth grader Casey Grubb first came to the Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner Teen Writing Workshop because her school counselor suggested it might be something she would enjoy.

She didn’t expect to like it this much.

“I’ve always written, but I’ve never shared it with anyone,” she said. “I was an ‘in the closet writer!’” she added with a laugh.

Though Grubb’s always been prone to drafting short stories and creating her own narratives, she continued, “I’ve never been able to share something so raw.”

This Sunday, after eight months of weekly writing classes, Grubb will be reading an original work aloud along with nearly a dozen other students at the John Jermain Memorial Library, located on West Water Street in Sag Harbor.

“This year, I was trying to give the students the confidence to start sharing their work, to have them believe that their voice has value,” said Emily Weitz, a writer who works part-time for The Express and leads the teen writing workshop each week.

“My role in their lives is somewhere in between teacher and friend,” Weitz explained. “I’m more like their artistic peer, because they’re writers and I’m a writer. We’re all on the same path, and I really look at them like that.”

The class is structured very loosely, often with a prompt or a question at the beginning, inviting all students to enter into discussions before putting pen to paper. While her goal is to get students’ creative juices flowing, Weitz said the bottom line is more simplistic than that: “I just want them to write.”

Weitz said she learned early on that structure is not necessarily conducive to this class.

“I gave them notebooks on the very first day… they were all gone by the second week,” she said with a laugh. In the end, while Weitz helps students edit their pieces, diligent documentation and structured technique are not the point.

“The main goal of this class is to give kids the time and the space to write, to define their own voices without trying to be something that someone else expects them to be,” she explained. “They’re constantly trying to fit into these expectations that their parents or peers have for them, so it’s important for them to have a space where they can write whatever they want, whether it’s a diary entry or a story about a magical world.”

Weitz often starts class by giving students a prompt to stir their creative juices. Such topics have invited students to consider what they carry around in their own bags (and why?) or asked the to wonder what it might be like to be a tourist in their own town.

Eighth grader Alika Esperson said she particularly enjoyed thinking about Sag Harbor from a new perspective.

“I do that more now because I see all the little stuff — the horse from the Five and Ten, or the school with the big clock — and it seems new,” she explained. “I think it’s important every once in a while to look at things differently.”

Throughout the year, students have been adding to an e-zine, called “Moss,” which can be found through the library’s homepage, or by simply going to moss.johnjermain.org. Their first (and only) public reading will take place on Sunday, May 6 at 5 p.m.

“I really appreciate the work that they’ve put in, and the trust and support they have for each other” Weitz added. “The reading is a nice opportunity for them to share their work, but what it’s really about is those many, many weeks when we just came together to write.”

Library Hopes to Grow its Endowment

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For several years now, the focus of the John Jermain Memorial Library’s Board (JJML) of Trustees has been to ensure that the restoration and expansion of the historic Main Street library is fully funded in anticipation of its 2013 opening.

While still dedicated to that effort, the library’s board and its director, Catherine Creedon, are also committed to building upon the endowment first levied by the library’s benefactress Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage. The goal of this effort is to ensure the library is sustainable and presents as little a tax burden as possible on residents for years to come.

During a JJML board of trustees meeting on January 15, board members emphasized their commitment to building the library’s endowment. The board also expressed a commitment to continue fundraising for additional monies beyond $10 million the library received via a public referendum for the expansion and restoration of the over 100-year-old library.

In 2009, voters in the Sag Harbor School District overwhelmingly agreed to spend the $10 million over 20 years towards the project. The expansion — modern in design — will nearly double the size of the building and preserve the history of the original building as well as historical documents specific to Sag Harbor in a new climate controlled history room.

The expansion will also allow the library to expand programming space, dedicate larger spaces to children and young adults, improve technology services and be handicap accessible on all three floors for the first time in its history.

When the referendum was passed, Creedon promised to raise, independently, an additional $2 million towards the expansion. Since a review process to get the library project approved by the village boards and the Suffolk County Health Department, her hopes for donations is now between $2.5 million and $3 million.

Last week, Creedon said the library has already raised about $1.5 million towards that goal, but hopes to also focus its efforts on building JJML’s endowment in order to ensure its future. This is particularly important as school districts, municipalities and even libraries are increasingly finding the need to cut back on the amount of funding in their budget that they seek from taxpayers each year.

“When I first interviewed for the position, I said that one of my goals was that any institution, even one that is publicly funded, should be committed to fundraising to ensure the viability and sustainability of the institution,” said Creedon.

The fundraising committee, led by board members like Jackie Brody, Linley Whelan and newcomer Toby Spitz, along with former board member Christiane Neuville, said at the January meeting that this aspect of fundraising would become a focus of their group. Looking for grant funding, in addition to critical private donations will be critical for them to succeed in their mission, noted Neuville.

As a part of the library’s campaign to raise funding around the building project — the library is now fully in the throes of its restoration, with scaffolding covering its façade — the board has created a specific donation for the endowment that will be commemorated on a plaque in the building’s lobby when it reopens.

Along with several other naming opportunities within the library, the board has created the Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage Circle Society, for groups of donors willing to give the library between $5,000 and $10,000 towards buffering its current endowment fund.

“We recognize that even while we fundraise for our capital campaign, the true sustainability of the library comes from being able to draw on the interest of an endowment to offset our costs,” said Creedon.

Mrs. Sage, also known as Mrs. Russell Sage, funded the library’s construction in honor of her grandfather Major John Jermain at a cost of $92,000. She also endowed the library with around $160,000, which the library has kept throughout its 100-years drawing on the interest the money has collected for programming and operating costs.

Last week, Creedon said she was not looking at a final fiscal goal for the endowment, but that raising that money, as opposed to funds for the building project, is in recognition that JJML is much greater than the building project residents have been focused on for decades.

“In our commitment to this community, we need to recognize that we need to be sustainable for another 100 years,” said Creedon.

Creedon said she also recognizes that with the growth in technology, the library’s role and its services are evolving and JJML must keep up.

As tablets and digital readers gain in popularity, Creedon said she is challenged to think outside the traditional box of viewing a library as a repository for books. Areas for DVDs and compact discs are being created with removable shelves, so should those readers become the primary viewing source for those formats the library will be able to continually adapt.

“Digital circulation is up 400 percent,” she said. “We need to make sure the library is in a position to respond to those changes.”

The library is beginning to circulate e-readers and will purchase two iPads for the children’s department, said Creedon, as many parents are using the technology as teaching tools. A hearing loop system for the hearing impaired — making the whole of the new library amplified for those with proper hearing aids — and a dedicated room for digital music and film projects is also planned for the new building.

The cost of these kinds of changes, said Creedon, are expenses she would like to see covered by the interest of an endowment in the future, rather than leave the library in a position of having to cut services to keep the overall cost of the library at a minimum for taxpayers.

In fact, once the building project is completed, Creedon said she would like the library’s annual appeal to be designated specifically for the endowment fund. Traditionally those monies have been used to offset the operating cost of the library.

“But ultimately, we have a commitment to our community to make this library as sustainable as possible,” said Creedon. “In our 2013 annual appeal letter, I hope to start a discussion about the endowment.”

Communal Generosity-12/8/11

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John Jermain Memorial Library is getting underway with its much needed restoration and expansion project. In the midst of it all, we are reminded of the amazing history — not only of the beloved Main Street structure itself, but of the generosity of one woman who built the library a century ago, and the continued generosity of a community today that is ensuring its future.

In 1910, Sag Harbor’s great benefactress Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage (or Mrs. Russell Sage as she was more familiarly known) used $92,000 of her own money (a fortune back then) to build the library, which is named for her grandfather. In those days, it wasn’t assumed that municipalities would pay for the public institutions we all now take for granted and Mrs. Sage also single-handedly financed the building of Pierson High School (named for another ancestor).

So it’s easy to forget sometimes that public institutions still need financial help from the citizenry they serve. Yes, the taxpayers of Sag Harbor did their part by approving a $10 million public bond in 2009 to finance this current expansion and renovation, which will nearly double the size of the original building.

But that’s not the end of the story.

In fact, library director Catherine Creedon took on the mission of raising another $2 million toward the project after the referendum passed. But given the complications of various approvals and boards needed for the project, she’s now looking to bring in $2.5 to $3 million.

Those are big numbers, but already, many in Sag Harbor are stepping up to the plate. Creedon is an amazing champion for the library, and no doubt a large reason why several substantial donations have already come in. A nod must also go to the very committed donors who are taking pride of ownership in the new library by sponsoring various aspects of the work at the site.

But it’s not just those with deep pockets for whom this library was built. This is an institution that is the heart of the community, and though that can be easy to forget while the historic structure is sitting dark in the midst of construction, it’s important everyone does their part for a building that means so much to Sag Harbor. Yes, it’s great to have donors who can write the big checks, but even $5 offered toward the goal is money well spent and greatly appreciated.

So we urge the community to get involved and stay involved on all levels, but particularly as the library works toward its financial goals. This is a village that was built on generosity. As the library continues down the road to its next 100 years, let’s remember that it’s a tradition worth continuing.

Readers Digest, But, Uh, Where?

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Surprise Sag Harbor book dinners return for fifth year to benefit John Jermain Library.

Surprise Sag Harbor book dinners return for fifth year to benefit John Jermain Library.



By Joan Baum

It’s called One For the Books and indeed, as the title suggests, it’s unusual and noteworthy — a series of book-oriented benefit dinners for the John Jermain Library that is like no other book-discussion group. Or gathering of good-food enthusiasts. Unlike most book club moveable feast get-togethers, where people know each other and take turns selecting books and providing fare, and different from Author Nights where readers sign up to have dinner with a writer at a well known person’s home, One for the Books turns on delicious mystery – Who will be hosting the dinner? What will be served? Who will be there? Until the very last minute, only the book that occasioned the dinner is known.

A couple of months before the dinners, each volunteer host picks a book. Later on, the full list is publicized in print and on the library’s website, along with available copies and call numbers. But that’s it until a week before as to who’s doing what and where. This year’s dinners take place on October 15 and October 22, each with a different set of 13 offerings, fiction and nonfiction.

To judge from past years, the One for the Books fund raiser has been a great success, realizing much appreciated money for the library’s capital campaign for restoration and expansion, and serving as a fun-filled social event and opportunity to meet new friends.

It’s amazing, say Ann and Howard Chwatsky, past attendees and hosts – “you live in town 30 years but still keep meeting new people,” especially in an artistic community like Sag Harbor. Rarely is the conversation “superficial chit-chat,” but that doesn’t mean it’s formal or forced. The feedback they’ve had has been “wonderful,” the Chwatskys note. Often a successful night widens the circle, as guests who have had a rewarding evening decide they’d like to be hosts the next year.

Gail Slavin, Chair of the One For the Books Committee points out another meaning of the title, beside playing on the expression that something is memorable because it is unique. She notes that it was the intention of One for the Books’ founders in 2006 (then board members Susan Merrell and Christiane Neuville) that each dinner host and participating guest be understood as “one” in the community who is “for” books — for reading and libraries in general, and John Jermain in particular. The Chwatskys say they are delighted to participate in anything related to the library, which has been a mainstay for them and their kids and grandkids. And Ann made such an “elegant” meal when they hosted a book dinner, Howard sighs.

Community is at the heart of the concept, says Library director Catherine Creedon, who attends both October dinner nights. How wonderful to celebrate “the pleasures of communal reading,” a rather recent development in the ancient history of sharing stories when people sat around a fire and told tales. She is thrilled that the One for the Book series is a chance to inform more people about the library’s outreach activities, including work with the district’s schools and adult programs. Is it generally known that a Suffolk County library card allows John Jermain patrons to get free book downloads? Or that Sag Harbor’s rich diversity is reflected in this year’s choice of books, including Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, originally written in Spanish and available in the library in both Spanish and English?

Of course, secrets do get leaked, though it’s pretty much the case, Slevin says, that until the week before the dinners most guests have no idea where they will be having supper or how to get there. Anonymity rules — “the book and the subject matter should be the draw.” Hosts, too, usually have to wait to see how many guests to expect. Dinner can be anywhere from six to 20 at table, depending on space and preparation — and choice of book. Some selections fill up fast and not until two weeks before the event do guests find out if their first choice (of three) can be accommodated.

It just happens that the fiction / nonfiction mix this year, a list that reflects both quirky and sophisticated literary taste, is close to 50-50. A few local authors are represented, and one (not telling) will be a dinner guest. For sure it won’t be Rudyard Kipling, who, along with two other authors no longer alive, are part of this year’s selections. The unnamed author-dinner guest does say that One for the Books is worth supporting because the library is, and it’s important to be “a good citizen.” It’s also “gratifying” to get to talk with people “who find in a book what you want them to find.” People at these dinners are “honest” and the event is “a great idea.”

Tickets: $100 ea. Dinners run from 7-10. For further info and to reserve a place, call 725-0049, xt. 244 or email johnjermainlibrary@gmail.com.

Readers Digest, But, Uh, Where?

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Surprise Sag Harbor book dinners return for fifth year to benefit John Jermain Library.

Surprise Sag Harbor book dinners return for fifth year to benefit John Jermain Library.



By Joan Baum

It’s called One For the Books and indeed, as the title suggests, it’s unusual and noteworthy — a series of book-oriented benefit dinners for the John Jermain Library that is like no other book-discussion group. Or gathering of good-food enthusiasts. Unlike most book club moveable feast get-togethers, where people know each other and take turns selecting books and providing fare, and different from Author Nights where readers sign up to have dinner with a writer at a well known person’s home, One for the Books turns on delicious mystery – Who will be hosting the dinner? What will be served? Who will be there? Until the very last minute, only the book that occasioned the dinner is known.

A couple of months before the dinners, each volunteer host picks a book. Later on, the full list is publicized in print and on the library’s website, along with available copies and call numbers. But that’s it until a week before as to who’s doing what and where. This year’s dinners take place on October 15 and October 22, each with a different set of 13 offerings, fiction and nonfiction.

To judge from past years, the One for the Books fund raiser has been a great success, realizing much appreciated money for the library’s capital campaign for restoration and expansion, and serving as a fun-filled social event and opportunity to meet new friends.

It’s amazing, say Ann and Howard Chwatsky, past attendees and hosts – “you live in town 30 years but still keep meeting new people,” especially in an artistic community like Sag Harbor. Rarely is the conversation “superficial chit-chat,” but that doesn’t mean it’s formal or forced. The feedback they’ve had has been “wonderful,” the Chwatskys note. Often a successful night widens the circle, as guests who have had a rewarding evening decide they’d like to be hosts the next year.

Gail Slavin, Chair of the One For the Books Committee points out another meaning of the title, beside playing on the expression that something is memorable because it is unique. She notes that it was the intention of One for the Books’ founders in 2006 (then board members Susan Merrell and Christiane Neuville) that each dinner host and participating guest be understood as “one” in the community who is “for” books — for reading and libraries in general, and John Jermain in particular. The Chwatskys say they are delighted to participate in anything related to the library, which has been a mainstay for them and their kids and grandkids. And Ann made such an “elegant” meal when they hosted a book dinner, Howard sighs.

Community is at the heart of the concept, says Library director Catherine Creedon, who attends both October dinner nights. How wonderful to celebrate “the pleasures of communal reading,” a rather recent development in the ancient history of sharing stories when people sat around a fire and told tales. She is thrilled that the One for the Book series is a chance to inform more people about the library’s outreach activities, including work with the district’s schools and adult programs. Is it generally known that a Suffolk County library card allows John Jermain patrons to get free book downloads? Or that Sag Harbor’s rich diversity is reflected in this year’s choice of books, including Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, originally written in Spanish and available in the library in both Spanish and English?

Of course, secrets do get leaked, though it’s pretty much the case, Slevin says, that until the week before the dinners most guests have no idea where they will be having supper or how to get there. Anonymity rules — “the book and the subject matter should be the draw.” Hosts, too, usually have to wait to see how many guests to expect. Dinner can be anywhere from six to 20 at table, depending on space and preparation — and choice of book. Some selections fill up fast and not until two weeks before the event do guests find out if their first choice (of three) can be accommodated.

It just happens that the fiction / nonfiction mix this year, a list that reflects both quirky and sophisticated literary taste, is close to 50-50. A few local authors are represented, and one (not telling) will be a dinner guest. For sure it won’t be Rudyard Kipling, who, along with two other authors no longer alive, are part of this year’s selections. The unnamed author-dinner guest does say that One for the Books is worth supporting because the library is, and it’s important to be “a good citizen.” It’s also “gratifying” to get to talk with people “who find in a book what you want them to find.” People at these dinners are “honest” and the event is “a great idea.”

Tickets: $100 ea. Dinners run from 7-10. For further i

John Jermain Memorial Library Earns Final Approvals

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John Jermain

For most people in Sag Harbor, Monday was a normal fall day — the weather turning from grey and foggy to hot and muggy, children pouring in and out of school, families strolling down Main Street in the afternoon, running errands, collecting groceries.

But for Catherine Creedon, Monday was a day she has been waiting for since she was hired as the director of the John Jermain Memorial Library in 2007. It was the day Creedon could walk back to the library’s temporary home on West Water Street and tell her staff that the library had just received the last approval, from the last board, to restore and expand its historic Main Street facility.

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On Monday, the John Jermain Memorial Library earned approval from the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) to add a 7,725 square-foot, modern addition to the rear of its 101-year-old Main Street building. The same day, just hours earlier, Creedon reported the library was also granted permission for an on-site septic system by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

The library had originally hoped to hook up to the Sag Harbor Village wastewater treatment plant, rather than install their own on-site septic system. However, after neighbors — who would have also been forced to hook up to the village treatment plant — expressed concerns, village officials denied the library’s request.

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The small size of the library’s 201 Main Street parcel, and the fact that the village has a wastewater treatment plant, made a Suffolk County Health Department approval difficult at best. However, with the help of the village board — which donated an acre of land off the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike that will be preserved — the library was able to finally gain its approvals this week.

Sag Harbor School District residents approved nearly $10 million in funding for the project in August of 2009. The two approvals were the last the library needed to move forward with its plans after an arduous two-year village review.

On Monday evening, the library’s architect, Michael Scott of Newman Architects, reflected on the design of the addition noting that after several years of considering a second library at Mashashimuet Park, in 2009 the JJML board heard the community’s desire to keep the whole library on its historic site.

Wanting to keep the addition as one that allows the original library, constructed by Mrs. Russell Sage, to stand out and not be overshadowed by an expansion that will more than double the size of JJML, Scott said his firm chose the masonry and glass modern design for the addition.

“Our library distinguishes itself from the existing library in that it is more like a library built at the turn of this century, rather than the library that was built at the turn of the last century,” said Scott.

The goal, he said, was to tuck the new library behind the rear of the existing building, matching the limestone color on the new addition to the existing limestone on the historic library. Large glass windows face out towards Main Street and on Union and Jefferson streets. Scott said the design is meant to simulate the experience of sitting on a porch, looking out at the historic library and Sag Harbor beyond that.

A plaza will be shaped into the ground next to what is now the first floor entry to the three-story library and will be outfitted with free Wifi and computer jacks.

Inside, the first floor will be reconfigured to hold children’s services, offering easy access through the plaza off Jefferson for parents and caregivers toting children in and out of the library. The ground floor will also offer a program room and the teen collection.

The second story, where patrons have traditionally entered the library through its front door, will be completely restored with adult collections displayed there, along with a main circulation desk, a periodical reading room, reference desk, multimedia areas, gallery space and offices.

The third floor rotunda — the interior architectural gem of JJML — will also be fully restored, with original furniture, to its 1910 layout, including a working fireplace. It will be a contemplative reading and study space for the community, and will also hold the library’s first climate controlled history room and archive.

According to Creedon, the whole of the project should be completed in 18 months.

“I think it is wonderful,” said Cee Scott Brown, chair of the ARB. “It is really beautiful. That is going to put Sag Harbor on the map.”

“I think you are doing pretty good so far,” replied Scott.

In other ARB news, James and Pia Zenkel were approved for a gingerbread-inspired, white picket fence and gate at their 71 Jermain Avenue residence.

While architect Anthony Vermandois requested the Zenkels be allowed to construct the fence in painted azek, a composite, rather than wood, ARB member Bethany Deyermond reminded Vermandois that the village code demands wood be used for construction in the historic district.

The next meeting of the Sag Harbor ARB will be held on October 13 at 5 p.m.



Editorial 9/22/11: Vote “Yes” On JJML Budget

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There is no doubt in our minds that residents of the Sag Harbor School District should turn out on Tuesday and vote in favor of the John Jermain Memorial Library’s proposed 2012 budget.

While the budget does call for a 4.8 percent increase in spending, the reality is the library is asking residents to pay an extra average of $5 per year for library services — services that are expanding to include a number of new digital resources, as well as new programming. All the while, the library board is faced with the stark reality of double-digit increases in the cost of healthcare, fuel oil, and is now operating not one, but two library buildings while it restores and expands the Main Street building many of us consider one of the great examples of Sag Harbor architecture.

In its temporary West Water Street location, JJML could have cut back on its programming, blaming the size of its new facility. Recognizing that particularly during bleak economic times the critical role a public library serves in a community, especially when it is so accessible from Main Street, the library has not backed off in the materials or services it offers Sag Harbor residents. In fact, it has increased its roll as the de-facto community center of Sag Harbor and shouldn’t be penalized for giving us all that much needed service.

The trustee elections this year proved a tough race in that all four candidates vying for the three open seats on the library board are obviously qualified to serve and committed to the future of JJML.

That being said, far above the other candidates we endorse Craig Rhodes for a second term on the library board, and urge residents to take the extra time necessary to write him in on their ballots.

JJML Director Catherine Creedon herself has talked about how critical a role Rhodes has played in the often confusing and sometimes frustrating review process for the expansion and renovation of the library. We have found him to be a thoughtful, vocal and intelligent member of the library board. He deserves another term.

We also believe Jackie Brody is ripe for her first full term on the library board after earning a one-year term on the board last fall. Brody has proved a valuable member of the library’s fundraising committee and as the board moves forward with the building project, we feel it is critical that her presence remain on that committee.

For the last seat, honestly, it was a very tough choice between Ann Lieber and Toby Spitz, both who bring a tremendous amount of experience to the table, and have obvious passion for the library. Spitz’s commitment to extending library services into the Latin American communities was particularly engaging and her background in library sciences more than impressive.

However, because of Lieber’s experience specifically with library building projects we feel she should have the seat. However, we encourage Spitz to seek a seat on the board next year as she obviously already is an asset to the library.

John Jermain Memorial Library Candidate and Budget Forum on Wednesday

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Next week, residents of the Sag Harbor Union Free School District will have the opportunity to weigh in on a proposed 2012 budget for the John Jermain Memorial library. They will also hear the thoughts of four candidates for three trustee seats on the library’s board of trustees — the first election contest for the library in several years.

On Wednesday, September 21 the library will host the forum at 5:15 p.m. in its temporary West Water Street, Sag Harbor home. The library board’s regular meeting will begin after the forum, around 6 p.m.

The library board will present voters in the school district with a 1,253,200 proposed budget for 2012, which the board approved this summer. It is one of the first budgets in the state to fall under the auspices of the mandatory two-percent tax cap. However the library board was able to override the cap with a unanimous vote by its board this summer and will present a budget to voters showing a 4.8 percent increase in spending. The library needs only a simple majority of voters for the budget to be formally adopted.

The proposed budget increase is due to several factors including the cost of operating a second, temporary home on West Water Street while the library’s Main Street building is renovated and expanded. According to the proposed budget, other factors include increases in the cost of staff, opening the library on Sundays year-round, double-digit increases in health care costs, as well as fuel oil, unemployment insurance and a new security system.

On Monday, JJML director Catherine Creedon said that while the proposed budget does call for an increase in spending, that increase is tantamount to asking residents for, on average, an extra $5 per year for library services over what they already pay. Creedon added that breaks down to about $0.43 cents a month, or “less than the price of a stamp,” she said.

Creedon added the trustee race will include a write-in candidate in incumbent Craig Rhodes, who failed to meet deadline to gain a name on the ballot, but has campaigned in the hopes of seeing the library’s restoration and expansion of its Main Street building completed under his tenure on the board.

“Incumbent Craig Rhodes has been instrumental in the building project process,” said Creedon. “And we have another three very strong candidates.”

Incumbent Jackie Brody will join Rhodes, as well as newcomers Ann Lieber and Toby Spitz in the race for seats on the library board.


JJML Has Four Vying for Three Seats Later This Month

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Craig Rhodes has been admittedly immersed in his position as a board member with the John Jermain Memorial Library over the last few years. He has pored over architectural renderings of the library’s renovation and expansion, keeping a close eye on the village’s review and eventual approval of that project, as well as the library board’s books, which he manages as the board’s treasurer.

Rhodes was so busy, in fact, that he says he did not realize he had served almost three years on the board, and — believing he had another year left in his three-year-term — failed to hand in his petition for a position on the ballot later this September.

“It was a total surprise,” said Rhodes on Tuesday. “I am really caught up in this whole project and I would hate to not be involved in what is going on as we are finally moving forward, in getting this building built and creating a great library for Sag Harbor.”

“I want another term to be able to see this through,” he added.

This is why Rhodes, an architect, is vying for his second term with the JJML Board of Trustees as a write-in candidate in what has emerged as a four-person race for three board seats.

The trustee election and budget vote will be held on September 27 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The library will host a special budget hearing and meet the candidate’s forum on Wednesday, September 21 at 5:15 p.m. before the library board holds its monthly meeting at 6 p.m.

In addition to Rhodes, incumbent trustee Jackie Brody, who was elected last year to fill the last remaining year of Tippy Ameres’ term after her resignation from the library board, will also seek a second term.

A Fulbright scholar, writer and editor, Brody said on Wednesday that her commitment to staying with the library board stems from her desire to continue her work on the fundraising committee. That group, said Brody, is critical to the overall success of the building project as the library attempts to raise millions of dollars beyond the public approved $10 million bond that will fund the restoration and expansion of JJML’s historic Main Street library.

Originally, noted Brody, the library’s fundraising committee set a goal of $2 million in additional funds to be raised over the bond. But after a lengthy, and expensive, review process to gain approval for the library project, Brody said the committee would likely seek $3 million in additional funds for the project.

JJML board member Christiane Nueville has reached her term limit with the board, and cannot seek another term. Therefore, joining Brody and Rhodes in the election contest will be Custom House administrator Ann Lieber. Lieber first began using the library as a two year old when her family visited the area each summer.

A member of the Friends of the John Jermain Memorial Library, Lieber has helped the library with the Friends’ annual House Tour to support the library’s programming, and will host the Friends’ benefit “One for the Books” this year as well. Lieber has also been involved in helping people gain their citizenship through tutorial classes at JJML.

A substitute teacher in the Sag Harbor Union Free School District, Lieber said while living in Indianapolis, she worked as a librarian for two religious institutions, which like JJML, were in the process of expansion.

“So I think I bring some expertise that would be important to the library at this stage,” said Lieber on Wednesday.

Toby Spitz is the fourth candidate on the slate, and is hoping to be elected to the board alongside her good friend, Lieber.

A graduate of the Columbia University School of Library Service, Spitz worked for the New York Public Library for a number of years before opening her own executive search firm for placing attorneys in corporations and law firms.

Spitz moved to Sag Harbor full-time to retire after summering in the village for seven years, and her first stop was the library where she was thrilled to offer her services as a volunteer. She took over running the library’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program after program director Martha Potter retired last year.

On Wednesday, Spitz said she would like to see the library expand its bi-lingual programming. Having grown up in Florida, Spitz said she has always had an affinity for the Latin communities. Recognizing that they are very much a part of the year round East End fabric, she feels libraries need to find ways to better serve that population.

On Tuesday, JJML Director Catherine Creedon said that she was excited to see such interest in the board, particularly as the library moves forward with its building project. She added that each candidate brings strong skills to the table that will no doubt benefit the library.

Creedon said Rhodes has been “instrumental” in moving the building project forward and with his architectural background has become a mentor to the director as the library worked on the design of the new library and waded through the approval process.

Rhodes, who first fell in love with JJML at the age of five, said he would like to continue his work with the library architects as building commences later next year.

Brody’s fundraising efforts have been critical, added Creedon. Lieber’s work on the library’s centennial, among other efforts similar to Spitz’s volunteer work with the ESL program at the library, is a prime example of the kind of people that make Sag Harbor the special community it is, said Creedon.

“We have four very strong candidates,” she said.