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Aug 12, 2019 2:34 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Free Library To Celebrate Newly Renovated Space In Grand Opening Next Month

The new fireplace and reading area in the entrance. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Aug 13, 2019 3:59 PM

Renovations at the Westhampton Free Library are near completion, and staff are preparing for its grand opening next month.

Although already operational, the more than $1.3 million expansion project needs a few finishing touches before being deemed complete, according to Library Director Danielle Waskiewicz.

The project transformed the 2,750-square-foot second floor from storage space into a vibrant children’s and teen area, equipped with computers, games, and, of course, books. There are also staff offices and an all-ages multipurpose room for community programming.

The first floor got a face-lift as well, as new reception desks and book stacks were added and rearranged to improve the flow of foot traffic throughout the open space. A new meeting room, media space and quiet study area were also added.

A fireplace was installed at the entrance, accompanied by cozy armchairs for those who want to read a newspaper or magazine near the warm fire when temperatures begin to drop.

The grand opening, slated for September 15 at the library, will celebrate a project that was three years in the making. Discussions among library board members began in summer 2016, six years after opening the brand new facility to the public, and construction broke ground last fall.

Ms. Waskiewicz said it feels fulfilling to reach the end of this project. “We’re happy to be working with the community and have the community use the space and explore the new spaces,” she said.

The expansion was funded primarily by a $1.3 million donation from Westhampton Beach resident Ann Skovek that she bequeathed to the library in her will. The library was also awarded a $357,731 New York State Public Library Construction Grant that was used toward the project, which Ms. Waskiewicz said will be used to replace money taken from the library’s reserve funds.

“I thank my colleagues in the Suffolk Cooperative Library System and especially Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Senator (Kenneth P.) LaValle for their advocacy efforts to ensure that libraries get their share of construction aid,” Ms. Waskiewicz said. “And of course, thank you to Ann Skovek for her generous donation.”

The second floor has been heavily used since it opened to the public in early July, Ms. Waskiewicz said. On a recent Monday morning, every room was occupied by community and staff members.

The library partnered with Southampton Town Senior Services to introduce a senior lunch program last month in the upstairs space, and it is continuing partnerships with the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and other outside organizations to bring educational programs to the public.

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