Tag Archive | "library"

Petitions Due for Library Elections; Five Openings in Bridgehampton, Three in Sag Harbor

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Hampton Library Director Kelly Harris uses the library's new 3D printer on February 24. Photo by Michael Heller.

Hampton Library Director Kelly Harris uses the library’s new 3D printer on February 24. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

The deadlines to submit petitions for positions on the board of trustees of both the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library are this week.

 

Bridgehampton

The deadline at the Hampton Library, where five seats are open, is Tuesday, September 2, by 5 p.m. Four seats will be voted on and filled by Bridgehampton residents; the remaining seat is in Sagaponack and will be voted on by residents of that school district.

Incumbents Jackie Poole, Tom House and Dr. Louise Collins are all seeking re-election.

Elizabeth Whelan Kotz, the board’s president, who has served four three-year terms, will be stepping down after reaching her term limit.

Sarah Jaffe Turnbull chose not to run for re-election due to other commitments.

In order to make sure term limits line up with the library’s annual reorganizational meeting, the terms for the trustees who will join the board this year will run from October 1 to December 31, 2017. Terms previously ran from October 1 to September 30, but will now run for a year and three months for as long as it takes to get all trustees serving three-year, January to December terms.

“The other thing we did this year,” said Library Director Kelly Harris “is in order to make sure that Sagaponack is represented.”

The library’s nine-person board formerly had seven seats reserved for Bridgehampton residents and two for Sagaponack residents, but starting this year, one of the Bridgehampton seats has been switched over to Sagaponack, “so that there’s just a little bit more representation of Sagaponack on the library board,” she said.

Starting in October, three of the trustees will be from Sagaponack, with the remaining six from Bridgehampton.

“Board members are really advocates for the library, but they also represent the community,” Ms. Harris said. “One of the things I’m very proud of at the Hampton Library is we really are a community center and a community library.”

“And we want the library board to not only reflect the community and be a representative of the community,” she added.

The budget vote and trustee election will be held Saturday, September 27, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hampton Library located at 2478 Main Street in Bridgehampton.

 

Sag Harbor

In Sag Harbor, three seats are opening on the board of the John Jermain Memorial Library. The deadline to submit petitions is Friday, August 29, at 4 p.m.

The terms of three board members have expired. Ann Lieber and Jackie Brody are both seeking re-election for their second term, while Toby Spitz has decided not to run for a second term.

Those who win the three-year terms will be in office from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2017. Candidates can run for two consecutive three-year terms.

The library board meets every third Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. and members usually also serve on committees that may meet monthly depending on the need, but oftentimes do not.

“Formally,” said library director Catherine Creedon, “being a board member entails attendance at the meetings, supervision and hiring of the director, long-range planning and the setting of policy. So, there’s a formal, very narrow charge, but in fact—particularly in a community like Sag Harbor—board members are really the ambassadors for the library.”

“I always think they are the best people to go out and understand our mission, to talk about it, to look at the community and see ways we might be able to better serve the community and bring that information back to the library,” she added.

“Right now, I think is the most exciting time to be a board member at John Jermain,” the director continued, “because we have this gorgeous new building about to open and at the same time, there are all these amazing changes in technology.”

The budget vote and trustee election for the John Jermain Memorial Library will be held Monday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Pierson auditorium, located at 200 Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor.

Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library Presents 2015 Budget Draft

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John Jermain Memorial Library Director Catherine Creedon at the library during its renovation in October 2013. Photo by Michael Heller.

John Jermain Memorial Library Director Catherine Creedon at the library during its renovation in October 2013. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

With the much-anticipated move back to its renovated and expanded home at 201 Main Street on the horizon, the board of Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) is presenting a budget draft that aims to cover the expenses of the building without exactly knowing what they will be.

“This budget was by far the most interesting budget for the board and I to put together in the years that I’ve worked at the library,” director Cathy Creedon said Monday, July 21, “because we’re almost back into the old, fresh, new building and we don’t have a real clear sense—because we’re not there yet—of what any of our operating expenses would be.”

The total of the 2015 draft budget, proposed at a library board meeting Wednesday, July 16, is $2,399,812. It includes operating expenses and debt service but is excluding capital expenses.

The budget represents an increase of $111,367 over the 2014 total budget, which was $2,288,445.

It would result in a 5.8-percent increase in the tax collected on the library’s behalf by the Sag Harbor School District, increasing that by $128,723 to $2,348,088. Those figures include funds for the library’s operating expenditures and the $905,000 in annual debt service approved at the time of the library’s 2009 renovation referendum.

Income designated for operating expenses (exclusive of funds raised through the capital campaign to improve the building) that the library generates itself through fundraisers, fines and other means is projected at $51,724 for 2015.

Ms. Creedon said the budget increase is due to moving into a bigger and better building, a move that has been stalled several times but should occur over the winter.

“At a minimum, we expect to see increases in electricity,” the director said. “We’ve been seeing our electric bills go up month after month even here in our temporary space, as we have people use our facility as a resource to support information searching of a digital nature. People are charging their laptops here or their iPad—they’re interfacing those devices with our collection to try to bring their research into the 21st century, which has been a great thing.”

Ms. Creedon said she has met with PSEG Island representatives to try to determine how much electricity the new building will need. In the proposed budget, electric expenses would increase by $8,439 for a total projected cost of $36,439.

The other major anticipated increase in expenses is due to staffing.

The building is four times larger than the library’s temporary space at 34 West Water Street, so custodial hours will need to be added.

The library moved into its temporary space around the same time as Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted the 2-percent tax cap on school districts. As a result of being in a smaller building and under a smaller budget, three employees left without being replaced. A desk clerk will not be replaced, but Ms. Creedon hopes to reinstate the adult programming coordinator and local history library positions.

“I really want to bring that building to light, be able to celebrate our local history holdings and the programming that we have,” Ms. Creedon said, adding that the number of people visiting the library for programs is increasing monthly.

“I think that kind of face-to-face instruction is something the community is really hungry for in terms of how they gather their information,” she added.

Ms. Creedon is hopeful the proposed budget for 2015 will enable the library to stay below the tax cap next year—and that JJML and the community will be enjoying the new library before the spring.

“I can see the staff, I can see the public computers, I can see the reading room full of people and it’s really wonderful,” the director said.

The terms of three current board members—Jackie Brody, Ann Lieber and Toby Spitz—will expire on December 31, 2014. They are all eligible for re-election.

A budget hearing and trustee forum will be held at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19, preceding the regular monthly meeting. The library trustee election and budget vote is Monday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

John Jermain Memorial Library’s Annual House Tour Shows Sag Harbor’s Living History

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The bathroom at Delores and Phil D'Angelo's homre on Glover Street. Photo by Delores D'Angelo.

The bathroom at Delores and Phil D’Angelo’s homre on Glover Street. Photo by Delores D’Angelo.

By Tessa Raebeck

Delores D’Angelo’s home in Sag Harbor isn’t particularly big or professionally decorated. She calls it her “little dream house” because it’s unique, peaceful and filled with mementos—and grandchildren.

“I think it’s a little surprising when you walk in,” Ms. D’Angelo said Thursday, July 3. “I just have a lot of stuff that I like.”

The timber-peg home on Glover Street is one of five that will be featured on the annual Sag Harbor House Tour, put on by the Friends of the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) Friday, July 11. The houses, four in Sag Harbor and one in North Haven, were selected for their variety, individuality, and for being lived in homes rather than cookie-cutter models. The tour has been ongoing for some 40 or 50 years, but the organizers never fall short of finding unique houses to showcase.

The home Ms. D’Angelo shares with her husband Phil, their Labrador and whatever kids and grandchildren are home was built in 1987 and overlooks Sag Harbor’s tranquil Upper Cove.

“It’s all pre-cut,” Ms. D’Angelo explained. The frame is put up first, she said, followed by the interior walls, electricity, insulation and last, the shingles, resulting in a colonial-style exterior.

The D'Angelos home on Glover Street. Photo by Delores D'Angelo.

The D’Angelos home on Glover Street. Photo by Delores D’Angelo.

“It’s like a barn. They raise all the timbers up,” she said. And that was exciting—to turn the corner on Long Island Avenue and see this structure where there had been nothing for so long. It was just a wonderful thing and we love Sag Harbor, so it was really the best of both worlds to be here.”

The D’Angelo’s have transformed the timber-peg model into their family home by sticking to what they like. They love to watch the wildlife, so, rather than a neatly manicured backyard, they keep it friendly for visiting animals. While many people erect fences and douse their plants with sprays to ward off deer, the D’Angelo’s prefer having those neighbors stop by for a snack.

“It’s just a very peaceful—I think it’s a sweet little house,” Ms. D’Angelo said. “It’s very lived in…It’s not a pristine—maybe that’s the difference, it’s just a real family home.”

In addition to children, the house is filled with various items collected over the years—there’s something to look at in every corner.

Ann Lieber, who is on the library’s board of trustees and helps choose the homes on the tour, said she is excited about the D’Angelo’s house because it “has so many things that they’ve collected that are important to them and it’s been part of [their lives], things from their childhood, etc.”

The Friends of the Library choose homes like the D’Angelo’s for that exact reason—their authenticity.

“I think the big thing is that they’ve all taken things that were part of their families and their lives and have made them part of their very lovely homes,” said Ms. Lieber. “That’s one of the really nice things.”

“We have homes that the families have decorated with things that are important to them, rather than somebody just coming in and decorating,” she added. “I really feel like each home is individually styled with things that matter to them.”

The North Haven house is home to Susan Edwards and Ian Ziskin, the fifth generation of a Sag Harbor family, with furnishings collected from the couple’s former homes and the lives of those five generations. Ms. Edwards and Mr. Ziskin decorated the house by re-creating their favorite pieces from the 10 houses they formerly owned across the country. In addition to a large collection of art and sculpture, the Western, Prairie and Craftsman style house, which overlooks Genet Creek with views of Shelter Island, offers a living history of Sag Harbor.

Architect Scott Baker renewed a 1926 Sears Roebuck pre-fab house on Franklin Avenue with a 1,250-square foot addition in 2007 when Norah McCormack and Gordon Boals purchased the house. In the grand “great room,” light shines through the soaring ceiling from all directions. The house has a twin across the street and legend has it that two sisters who feuded without speaking for 20 years lived in the homes.

A Hampton Street home owned by Ki Hackney Hribar and Carl Hribar was built in 1790 as a simple one-story dwelling. Captain Jonas Winters expanded it in 1853 and it was again modified in the Victorian style in the 1920s. When the Hribars moved in, they reclaimed the pine-plank floors and beams from the original 1790 roof and added a few modern touches, such as a window seat and a “ship’s staircase,” which has brass railings, bead-board and rope trim.

“They’ve taken a really old house and opened it up and it’s just beautiful,” said Ms. Lieber. “And they too have many things that are part of their family life.”

Another historic home is that of Anton Hagen and Linley Pennebaker on Main Street. The Greek Revival-turned-Federal was built in 1840 and rotated by 90 degrees and converted into the Colonial style in the 1940s. Continuous renovations since Mr. Hagen purchased the home in 1980 include furniture designed by Mr. Hagen and family antiques, folk rugs and other collectibles.

In addition to showcasing the varied tastes and extensive histories of Sag Harbor residents and their village, the JJML House Tour is a major fundraiser for the library’s programs.

The proceeds, co-chair Chris Tice said Monday, are “what pays for all the programs that the library provides for the community.”

“That’s why the house tour is so important for the community and for the library,” she added.

The John Jermain Memorial Library House Tour is Friday, July 11, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $45 if purchased in advance and are available at the library’s temporary location at 34 West Water Street and at the Wharf Shop, located at 69 Main Street in Sag Harbor. Tickets purchased on the day of the event are $50 and will only be available at the library. For more information, call (631) 725-0049 or visit johnjermain.org.

Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library Will Return to its Historic Building by the Fall – Hopefully

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After an extended delay, on February 1 workers finally began installing steel piles that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition to the John Jermain Memorial Library, completing the installation February 15. Michael Heller photo.

After an extended delay, on February 1 workers finally began installing steel piles that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition to the John Jermain Memorial Library, completing the installation February 15. Michael Heller photo.

By Tessa Raebeck

On Saturday, February 15, at around 1 p.m., the last of the new piles for the foundation of the John Jermain Memorial Library’s addition went into the ground, just moments before the snow began to fall.  Missing the snowstorm was a small bit of good luck in a four-year construction process that has been wrought with setbacks.

With the foundation excavated and the piles installed, Sag Harbor’s historic library is finally moving full steam ahead on its addition—and Executive Director Catherine Creedon couldn’t be happier.

“It’s great,” Ms. Creedon said Tuesday, “This has been, as you know, a long journey… the design process for these piles was intensive.”

Screw-like stainless steel poles driven into the ground to support a structure, the piles were first delivered in December after geological conditions, the historic nature of the 201 Main Street building and the village’s requirements that vibrations from caused by construction be limited together mandated the complete redesign of the foundation plan.

That part of the process was finally completed Saturday, “so we’re up and running now,” said Ms. Creedon. The next steps are placing the underground plumbing, electrical work, ductwork, piping, conduits and loop hearing system, or essentially everything that needs to be set in the ground. A grade beam, which helps distribute the weight of the foundation, will then be installed atop the piles and the foundation will, at long last, be poured over that. Ms. Creedon is hopeful that work will be completed by the end of March.

The restoration and expansion of the library officially began in 2009, when the community approved a referendum to fund nearly $10 million for the project, with the library committing to raise an additional $2 million. In the nearly five years since, the library has exceeded its goal, raising about $2.5 million through grants and pledges. But due to the setbacks, Ms. Creedon estimated another $1 million is necessary to complete the project.

“It’s generally, I think, hard to point to any one thing and say this is what it was,” she said of incurring the additional costs. “Part of it was the extended permitting process we went through which had its own expenses, part of it was work on the dome, part of it was work on the foundation and some of it was the economy itself; that when we had the referendum vote in 2009, we were in a period of de-escalation in construction costs and now we’ve moved into a period of escalation in construction costs.”

Ms. Creedon used to give timeframes for the reopening of the expanded library in months, but has now reduced her speculation to seasons. “And the season I’m going to say is late fall 2014,” she said Tuesday. Her personal goal is for the community—and the patient staff and patrons of the library—to be able to enjoy it again by the time it celebrates its 104th birthday October 10.

“The temporary space has been great,” said the director, “but I’m so excited to have the new building in place for us to be able to really expand on the programs we offer to the community.”

John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor Moves Forward on Excavation of New Addition

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The steel screws that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition of the John Jermain Memorial Library.

The steel screws that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition of the John Jermain Memorial Library. (Photo by Michael Heller).

By Tessa Raebeck

After years of planning and months of revisions and setbacks, the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) in Sag Harbor is finally ready to start the excavation of its new addition.

“It really is an exciting time,” Catherine Creedon, the library’s director, said Thursday.

The restoration and expansion of the library’s historic building at 201 Main Street officially began in 2009, but the project has encountered several unforeseen obstacles that stalled its progress.

One of those obstacles occurred when work began on the excavation for the new addition.

Soil borings, tests that evaluate the soil and its ability to support a structure, which were done in the early predesign stages of the project proved inaccurate once the excavation began in August, rendering the original plans to support a 7,000 square-foot addition obsolete.

The initial plan was to support the structure with long finger-like spread footings, a type of shallow foundation that extends beyond the building’s perimeter and transfers building loads close to the earth’s surface. After performing more soil borings, however, the library found several areas of the construction site exhibited lower soil bearing capacity than was initially thought, meaning a deeper foundation was required.

The usual response to such a problem is to simply extend the spread footings further, but longer spread footings would have reached off of the library’s land and onto the neighboring property, 6 Union Street.

“Obviously,” said Creedon, “that wasn’t a possibility.”

The next fix considered was to install conventional driven piles, screw-like poles of either wood, reinforced concrete or steel that are pushed into the ground. Because the library’s village building permit limits the amount of vibration the construction process can create, however, conventional piles turned out to be yet another impossible option.

Working with preservationists, civil engineers, structural engineers and architects — all within the parameter of the building permits and property lines — Creedon went “back and forth with a series of designs” until a plan was finally determined.

“It’s been a journey, but we’re there now,” she said Thursday.

The team has designed and ordered stainless steel helical piles. At 20 feet, they will be driven into the foundation in key places. A header, or concrete beam, runs along the top of the piles.

“The combination of the beam and the helical piles will support the new addition,” said Creedon. “So it’s a great day.”

“I’m so excited,” she added, “to open that new building and so excited at the opportunity to really fully serve the community.”

The new piles will be delivered to the construction site on Friday and twisted into the ground soon after the New Year.

Driving the piles — 80 in total — into the foundation is expected to take two to three weeks. After the header is installed, construction will start on the other walls and the building’s steel support.

Depending on the weather this winter, Sag Harbor residents should be enjoying their new library within the year.

“Our latest schedule,” explained Creedon, “is showing that the substantial completion [will be] in August, so my goal — and I think I tend to be an optimistic person — my goal is to move back in there for the library’s birthday.”

Founded in 1910, the library will celebrate its 104th birthday on October 10, hopefully in its new and improved home.

“And sooner would be great,” adds Creedon.

John Jermain Memorial Library Accepts Vast Collection of Native American Research Books

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Mac Griswold, Richard Buckley and Catherine Creedon pose with books from Buckley's collection at the library's storage unit.

Sag Harbor Historian Mac Griswold, Collector Richard Buckley and JJML Director Catherine Creedon pose with books from Buckley’s collection at the library’s storage unit November 12.

By Tessa Raebeck

As a child growing up in Little Falls, New York, Richard Buckley was eager to learn about the Native American tribes that lived nearby, but the materials he could find were minimal, ill advised and uninformed.

“It didn’t seem right to me the way they were describing it,” explained Buckley, who, rather than settling for subpar information, spent the next 40 years compiling an extensive collection of books, journals and other research on — and by — Native Americans.

On November 13, Buckley and his wife, former United States Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, packed his entire collection of 23 boxes into the back of their pick-up truck and drove from their home in Northern Virginia to Despatch Self Storage in Bridgehampton, where Catherine Creedon excitedly awaited their arrival.Richard Buckley

After a deliberate screening process of potential libraries in New York State, Buckley decided to donate his collection to the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) in Sag Harbor, where Creedon is director, because he knew they would be appreciated, complemented and, most importantly, used.

Buckley, who worked as a lawyer before concentrating primarily on his research and academic lecturing, estimates his collection includes some 350 materials. The most historically significant part of the collection is the inclusion of four journals on Native American history, to which Buckley has subscribed since their respective inceptions.

He began subscribing to the American Indian Culture and Research Journal when it was first published in 1979, and the journals now fill four boxes.

The journals “give an incredible amount of new history,” said Buckley. “History that had never been written from the viewpoint of American Indians.”

“These journals,” he continued, “have covered everything from the history to the current preservation of Native American tribes throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 2000s. If someone were to read those journals, they could write a thesis.”

The collection also includes 15 boxes of books on Native Americans, separated by topics such as women, Iroquois and “Excellent/General Overviews.”

In compiling his collection, Buckley first tackled the Native American history of New York State, moving on to the entire continental United States and eventually to Alaska and Latin America. The collection also includes extensive documentation of the present condition of Native Americans.

“That is probably the underlying value of the collection,” explained Buckley, “to have that approach of — both historically and currently — the ongoing evolution of American Indian history…. The collection’s value is to show that American Indians are not only here, but they’re living out their history, they’re living out their story.”

Once his collection was complete with an extensive variety of viewpoints from both men and women across different regions, tribes and cultures, Buckley faced the daunting task of deciding where his work belonged.

“What I did was,” he explained, “because I didn’t want these to go anywhere, I wanted them to be in a certain library — when I contacted [the libraries], I’d then know whether it was the right fit.”

Former Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, JJML Director Catherine Creedon and Richard Buckley in the midst of delivering the collection November 12.

Former Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, JJML Director Catherine Creedon and Richard Buckley in the midst of delivering the collection November 12.

At first, Buckley put a notice in the regional library system of central New York, where he grew up. Without any quick responses, he sent the notice to the statewide system.

Within a few days, he was on the phone with Cathy Creedon.

“By the initial interest,” he said, “I could see that she was really interested and they were looking for something to complement the new renovation and the newly restored old beautiful building.”

Since JJML opened in 1910, the History Room has been an integral part of the library. It started with rare materials from the personal library of William Wallace Tooker, a Sag Harbor pharmacist who was also an ethnographer with an interest in Algonquin history. Tooker’s collection in JJML includes the Eliot Indian Bible, a bible in the Algonquin language that was the first bible printed in the colonies.

After unloading the 23 boxes into a storage unit, Creedon gave Buckley a tour of the new building, including the history room, which once completed will be climate-controlled, humidity-controlled and temperature-controlled.

“The tour of the library was the final proof that my donation will ‘fit’ with the future use of the library — particularly the special research room,” said Buckley. “The primary reason for donating the collection to [JJML] is Cathy. She will ensure that the collection is used in the most effective manner.”

In a message to Creedon, Buckley envisioned his collection in Sag Harbor.

“I imagined,” he wrote, “that you would have at the opening of your beautiful library — a researcher would be reserving the special room and using the American Indian collection. She will complete a new powerful book about the contributions of Indian women.”

“I thought that was a real tribute to the role of a public library,” said Creedon.

Library Decides to Go Ahead with Referendum

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It has been nearly three months since the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) hosted a community workshop to generate ideas on a future renovation and/or relocation of the library. At the previous meeting, held in early December, workshop participants laid out three different options for the future of the library: renovating and expanding the existing space, renovating the existing building and constructing a new building on a parcel of land — owned by the library — near Mashashimuet Park, or moving all of the library services to a building on the plot near the park.
In December, architect Michael Scott, of Newman Architects, said the library would be ready with plans by March, but now JJML director Cathy Creedon says preliminary plans will be presented to the public on April 20. The plans will include several different architectural options. In light of the economic crisis, the library needed an extra few weeks to “really make sure we were pursuing the best plans for the community,” said Creedon.
On April 20, Creedon said the library will have rough budgetary figures for each design option. By the second meeting, scheduled for May 6, Creedon expects the board to winnow down the plan options, decide upon materials and furnishings and present specific cost estimates. Creedon added the final option will be up for a referendum by late June or early July.
Although the economics of the project is a chief concern for the board, JJML board vice-president Christiane Neuville said the referendum couldn’t be postponed because of the state of the existing building. A number of consultants, including a mechanical and plumbing engineer and an historic building preservationist, were hired by Newman Architects to visit the building and compile a laundry list of necessary repairs.
The consultants found the building’s wiring is non-conforming, the boiler system is functioning at a compromised level and the emergency systems lack proper lighting, fire pulls and sprinklers. In addition, the roof hasn’t been replaced since the 1950s. The cast-iron drain pipes from the roof to the ground are consistently blocked, forcing the water to go through the library’s walls. Creedon said there are often leaks throughout the building, including a leak over the computer area in the basement.
“The consultants’ recommendation was that this building is in need of immediate attention,” said Creedon. The compromised condition of the building is further exacerbated by an increased demand for library services. According to Creedon, over the past year library usage has increased by 23 percent.
The next public meeting on the library’s options will be held on Monday, April 20 at the John Jermain Memorial Library, 201 Main Street, at 5:15 p.m.

Above: The iron piping is exposed in the basement floor of the library, and is a constant source of leaks.

Forum Urges Many Visions of Library

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Forum Attendees help plot out a possible future division of library services.Dozens of local residents squeezed into the Rotunda of the John Jermain Library, on Saturday, December 6, as architect Richard Munday began a community workshop for local residents who were urged to share their ideas for a possible division of services between the existing library building and a new location.

   Munday, of the Connecticut firm Newman Architects, reported that at a similar forum held last month, people said the main problems with the current space were a perceived lack of parking and a lack of space. Associate architect, Michael Scott continued and said that the core priorities of the library were its history, its collections, and its outreach programs. Through a series of activities designed by Newman Architects, Munday challenged the forum’s participants to address the problems of the existing library while still protecting its priorities. In the first activity, attendees used an activity sheet to show which village locations, such as the park or grocery store, they go to before or after visiting the library.
   The second activity required everyone to split up into five groups of around six people. Each group was given a poster board with a long rectangle printed on it. The front third of the rectangle was shaded in black and this symbolized the amount of space available at the current location. The remaining rectangle space was shaded in grey, and this symbolized the extra space at a second library building. Each group was given a handful of thin foam board blocks with a different library service or space, such as collections or a senior reading room, printed on its surface. The groups were told to place these services in the rectangle in order of importance from left to right, and asked members to thoroughly consider which services should stay in the existing building and which ones could be moved to a new location. While describing this activity to attendees, Munday said “if you think about each of the services as a kind of book and you think about the place [of the library] as a kind of book shelf, how will you fit all of the services onto the bookshelf?”

Architect Munday explains the activity to library workshop participants.
   One of the key issues that came out of this activity was the accessibility and safety of the building, especially for parents with young children. Parents make up a large number of library users, but they are often absent at these forums.
“This is a beautiful historical building, but it is not accessible,” said local resident Larry Baum. “I have arrived here with four kids, carrying a stroller and I can tell you that [this building] does not work for people from my demographic. In order to have a communal place, it has to be accessible … I am disappointed that more of my peers and fellow parents are not here today.”
Tippy Amerest, a library board member and local teacher, echoed Baum’s concerns: “I couldn’t use the library from the time my son was young because I was afraid he would run into the street [while I was getting out of the car.]” Even one older resident sympathized with parents who find it difficult to safely enter the building with their children. “It is very dangerous to get out of the car with children. You have to provide parking room for any children’s area,” said Priscilla Ciccariello.
The library, though, has been exploring ways to include the voice of parents in the plans for the library. Library Director Catherine Creedon has visited the Parent Teacher Student Association and has spoken with many of the school’s community groups. Creedon has also made sure that free childcare is provided at the library during these forums.
Local mother Nancy Hallock, who attended the Saturday meeting, said, “There were many interested parents who were unable to attend the meeting today.” Hallock is looking into ways of distributing copies of the activities given out at the forum to parents. She is also trying to organize mini-forums with parent groups.
The ailing and disabled are also faced with the issue of limited accessibility to the library. Library Board President Christiane Neuville said she has difficulty maneuvering around the building because of recent back surgery: “This building is hard on me because there is no elevator. I had some friends who couldn’t come today because of this.”
During the mini-group activity, some participants addressed accessibility problems by moving the children’s section and reading room to a different location. Some reasoned that a new site would offer safer parking. Others felt that a building on the plot of land by the Gateway would be convenient for parents who take their children to Mashashimuet Park.
Others, however, felt that separating the children’s and adult’s sections would create new problems. “I would personally have to make two trips. I wouldn’t have time to get my books,” one mother observed. Some parents wondered whether the whole library could be housed in one, roomier, location, and perhaps the existing building would be used for another purpose.
One workshop mini-group toyed with the idea of an expansion to the existing building and duplicating certain services to avoid moving key services to another location. For example, one group suggested that the children’s reading room and the children’s books be housed in the same space. This group placed the archives at a separate location reasoning that this space could be open from time to time, which would cut down on staff costs.
Other attendees recognized a need for a second location. Some wondered about the feasibility of the costs associated with this arrangement. “The village might say that we can’t afford two buildings,” said Nicholas Quennell. “This is something that I think about a lot,” said Creedon. “If we do have two buildings one important thing to do is to find [existing] staff willing to work at the separate buildings.”
As the workshop progressed, the issue of funding became a pressing matter. Some believed the current economic crisis would allow the library to construct a new building at a lower rate. “Any kind of public project needs to seek bids for the work. When people are looking for work, especially in the building industry, we might be able to pay a lesser amount for the project,” said Creedon. Others wondered if the project could be phased out, or built bit by bit. Creedon is also exploring other avenues of funding. “We are looking into grants and private donors, and we have been hosting fundraisers … All of it is going to lessen the amount of the referendum,” said Creedon.
Regardless of funding issues, nearly everyone agrees that this is an important time to make a decision about the future of the library. Many participants spoke of how in a recession, people are more likely to use their local library. “People aren’t going to buy a book anymore, they will come here,” said Neuville. Creedon reports that lately the library’s “usage is skyrocketing.”
Architect Michael Scott said, “We’ve been very excited to work on this project. We haven’t fully digested everything that was discussed on Saturday, but we will certainly be ready [by January or February] to present a few options to see how a building would fit in either one or two locations.”

A Very Public Project

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As controversial as the John Jermain Memorial Library project has been historically, as it begins a new cycle, we are pleased to see its board does so with transparency as a prority.

This week, library board president Christiane Neuville showed she is taking great pains to make the restoration of the current library and the creation of a new building a process that is open and accessible to the community. She equally prodded her fellow board members to share their own personal thoughts on the proposals. She encouraged and urged the scant few civilians who came to listen Monday afternoon, to express themselves, and become part of the discussion. No one on the board budged until each and every query was answered.

For this we applaud her leadership and those on the library board who shared their thoughts publicly. We hope the few who declined to do so understand the importance of this transparency in the future and let the people of Sag Harbor know their thoughts and impressions on an undoubtedly significant proposal. After years of debate it is time every one put their cards on the table each and every step of the way.

Kudos for the library board aside, the public poorly attended the meeting this week, which is a shame. Outside of the proposed Bulova Watchcase Factory, this project has stirred the most debate in this village, becoming one of the most controversial issues the village has dealt with over the past five years. It is beholden to the public to involve themselves in this discussion. If Monday night’s meeting is any indication, it is clear the public is intended to be an equal partner, if in fact not the greatest stakeholder, in the future of Sag Harbor’s library. It is now time for them to claim that stake.