In 2009, the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton completed a major, $6 million addition designed by the architect Lee Pomeroy that doubled its size, providing well-lit spaces overlooking the back lawn for library patrons to read or study and more room to store its growing collection of books and other media.
Although that project pulled the library, which was founded in 1876, firmly into the 21st century, the pace of technological innovations and need for new programming have only accelerated, according to director Kelly Harris, who unveiled plans last week for a major interior renovation that she says will help it better serve a growing, and ever changing, clientele.
“Libraries have always been in the forefront of making sure as things change we stay relevant,” she said. “But I don’t think anyone 20 years ago would have thought the way we consume information would change so quickly.”
With the rise of digital media, the library is finding it needs less space for storage and more space for programming. The initial impetus for the renovation effort, which is so early in the planning stages that cost estimates are not yet available, came from the library’s teen patrons, who have been clamoring for more space so they can meet with friends after school to work on homework or group projects, Ms. Harris said.
To that end, the library’s board of trustees, which has been working with H2M Architects and Engineers of Melville, plans to expand its teen room, formally called the Arlene and Alan Alda Young Adult Room, which currently occupies a space that’s not much larger than a butler’s pantry in one of Bridgehampton’s grand summer homes, into the space that currently houses its DVD collection. Many of those DVDs will be removed from circulation, although Ms. Harris said a number of foreign films, as well as entries from the Hamptons Doc Fest, will be retained.
The plans also call for the library’s imposing circulation desk, which dominates much of the entryway, to be almost reduced in size by half, from 24 to 13 feet, and redesigned to provide a self-serve shelf for reserved materials and chairs for patrons to sit when they consult with reference librarians.
Another room named after the Aldas, the Literacy Room, a narrow classroom that is a tight squeeze for 10 people to sit around a conference table, will be expanded northward into an area currently used for stacks, making it more comfortable for small groups and viable for larger groups.
The Joyce Goldman Children’s Room, in the library’s basement, will also get a makeover, with the librarian’s station shifted closer to the entrance and other renovations, including a cozier space for story time and new easy-to-clean floors to replace the carpeting there now.
Even though the library has been open to patrons, in the age of COVID-19, encouraging people to attend informational gatherings, or charettes, that were scheduled this week proved to be daunting. A session dedicated to gain input from teens was postponed when half of the registered participants couldn’t attend, and only two patrons showed up for another session on Tuesday. Ms. Harris said she will continue to reach out to patrons to solicit their input for the design. She said on Thursday she had offered several tours to interested patrons already.
In the meantime, the library is working with its architects to establish a working estimate for the project. Ms. Harris said the library would pay for the project with its capital project reserve fund, the proceeds of a bequest it received from the estate of Elizabeth Ebel, and grants from New York State. If additional funding is needed, she said the library would hold a small capital campaign.
Ms. Harris said there would be no plans to float a bond to pay for the project, noting that the library recently paid off the $4 million bond that covered the portion of the last renovation that was not paid for by private donations.