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Library Renovations Stack Up

When you stroll into the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library these days, look around — you might just notice a little something has changed.

The library recently finished work on an extensive $200,000 renovation project, a major undertaking that took well over a month of hard work to complete. The goal was to provide more of the services that patrons have been requesting over the years, according to library director Gretchen Browne, and to that end the library’s old Media Department was re-purposed to make room for additional media space, more quiet study and meeting rooms, and a bigger Community Services Department.

“So far, it’s really working well, because the public is loving these new private study rooms,” she said. “I’ve had so many patrons com up to me and say how great they think these new additions are to the library, and since we finished the construction, the study rooms have been getting non-stop use.”

Local residents seeking to escape to a quiet little nook and get some work done or a place to hold their organization’s regular meetings have no further to look. The renovated area of the library offers several new rooms that can easily accommodate such needs. The new study rooms include two private rooms with desks and chairs; one communal room featuring a more casual atmosphere comfy chairs and couches and a full, corporate-style meeting room.

“This will be for community organizations to use for their meetings...they can do presentations in here, as the room has a white board and we’re also setting up an overhead projector and any other equipment that we need,” she said.

All of the rooms, as is the case with the rest of the library Browne said, are fully wi-fi accessible.

The library’s DVD movie section will be moved over to a new wide-open space situated at the front of the new section; however, Browne noted that shelving will be kept low to preserve the openness of the area, with new seating to be added. Meanwhile, the previous location of the movie department will become the library’s new periodical lounge, complete with chairs patrons can sit in while catching up on current events.

Browne also mentioned that she hopes to further incorporate technology into the library’s set-up, enabling patrons a whole slew of new options when it comes to utilizing the resources they have to offer.

“In the future, I’d like to add a self-check, so that people can come in, choose their materials, and check it out on their own,” she said. “We’re a little ways from that, however, but we’re taking things slowly, because we want to be sure that the money we’re spending is going to be for the right purpose.”

In addition, the cramped conditions the Community Services Department was forced to endure have been permanently alleviated; they have received a brand-spanking new home in the renovated section of the library as well, boasting far roomier accommodations than before, Browne said.

“They were very tight in their original space,” she said. “They’ve got much more space in here right now, and the director of the department also has her own office now. We’re really thrilled at how it all came out...the overall effect is exactly what we were looking for.”

The Technology Department has also found a new home in the newly-renovated area; for there they will run the library’s website, instruct patrons on how to access some of the tech-related services they offer (such as downloading e-books and streaming video), and attending to regular IT-related issues.

Construction was completed in time to coincide with the library’s 50th anniversary, which was held on April 27. The quick turnaround time in the construction, according to Browne, was thanks to a cutting-edge construction element known as the Genius Wall system, a series of pre-fabricated, multi-purpose walls that can be configured into any scheme a given location requires, she said.

“What’s great about them is the flexibility...they’re durable, but can be moved about easily and they already have the channels built in for all the wiring, such as electricity, phone, and the internet,” she said. “If we decide that, in two years, that there’s another purpose for one of those rooms, we can come back and reconfigure it. That’s the beauty of it...they will work into the future.”  

While the cost of the renovations coming in at $200,000, an expenditure approved by taxpayers in last year’s 2014-2014 library budget vote, the library has applied for a $200,000 grant from the New York State construction grant program; Browne said that she hopes the library will receive a percentage of their costs back through this channel, which they can then apply to other community-related projects.