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Hampton Library Eyes Major Upgrade

Wed, 05/15/2024 - 20:20
A rendering shows what the Hampton Library’s young-adult room would look like after the space is reconfigured as part of a capital improvement project the library hopes to begin by the end of the year.
Courtesy of Hampton Library

The Hampton Library in Bridgehampton, last expanded 15 years ago, is kicking off a $1.5 million capital campaign this weekend with the aim of refurbishing the children’s room, expanding the young-adult room, doubling the size of its literacy space, and undertaking a range of technology enhancements and building improvements to meet the needs of a growing population of patrons.

All this would happen within the library’s current footprint, said Lisa Michne, its executive director. Rather than adding space, the library is finding ways to make better use of the space it has. “We’re making the circulation desk smaller so that we can expand the Y.A. space,” for example. By bumping out a wall in the literacy room, which can accommodate just eight people right now, the library would be able to open programs there to more patrons.

“We are actually turning people away who want to come to our programs because we can’t fit them in the room,” Ms. Michne said.

Since the last expansion, the population in the library district, which includes the Bridgehampton and Sagaponack School Districts, has grown by 75 percent and the number of people taking advantage of library programs has more than doubled, according to library officials. “Circulation of electronic materials has grown over 200 percent and the adult reference desk answers nearly 10,000 questions a year,” an announcement of the capital campaign says. “Library visits by the public reached 40,000 in 2023. The strain of this surge has required us to expand services, programs, and materials to meet this demand.”

The way people use libraries has changed a lot over the past 15 years. Back then, “we weren’t all walking around with a little computer in our pocket,” Ms. Michne said. While books remain a top priority, the library “is just a democratic space. . . . All ages can come, everybody’s equal, everything is free. It’s just used for so many things.”

In the literacy room, the larger size would allow the library to “accommodate emerging technology, assistive hearing technology, digital resources, virtual reality, high-speed internet, and video conferencing.”

“Not everybody has access to the internet and Wi-Fi at home,” Ms. Michne noted. Improvements are also planned for the vestibule, the north lawn, the community room, and the fiction and second-floor stacks.

The renovations and upgrades are expected to cost $1.985 million, of which $400,000 has already been raised. It is hoped that work could begin later this year, Ms. Michne said.

Some of the spaces slated for upgrades and expansion — the Joyce Goldman Children’s Room, the Arlene and Alan Alda Young Adult Room, and the Arlene and Alan Alda Literacy Room — are named for past benefactors, and the library said it will offer “multiple naming opportunities as part of the campaign.”

Eric Lemonides, an owner of Almond restaurant in Bridgehampton, among other businesses, is serving as the capital campaign chairman.

Ms. Michne, who grew up using the Hampton Library, said in a release that she believes “this campaign will transform the effectiveness of our library in this community. For so many local people, a public library like ours is a lifeline to expanding horizons, combating isolation, and bringing people together in the pursuit of knowledge and community — we serve an essential role for so many people of all ages.”

Libraries offer “free access to knowledge,” she said by phone on Tuesday. “We collect stories as well as lending out stories, and we are always hearing stories from people about how much the library means to them. . . . There’s a lot of appreciation for the programs that we do and the space that we provide.”

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