Temporary Home For Montauk Library

Independent/T.E. McMorrow

Before the Montauk Library can expand, it must contract, and the moving day needed for that to happen is almost here. The staff is busy taking down signs and boxing up books when they are not checking in returns.

The result will be a much larger, modern library, which will open in spring 2021. It will feature a larger children’s space, a reading deck where visitors can relax with a book while taking in the ocean view, and modern, larger, and quieter adult and historic archive sections.

To get from here to there though, requires a move to a temporary, smaller space just a few yards away in the parking lot to the east of the main building. Concrete footings have already been poured for four interconnected trailers being placed later this month.

Denise DiPaolo, the library’s director, showed a rough sketch of what the library’s temporary home, a 56-by-47-foot space, will look like. There will be some bookshelves, a dedicated space for children activity, a circulation desk, a few small offices for staff, and two bathrooms. A 17-by-20-foot area is going to be dedicated to popular programs like the year-round film series.

A lot of prep work and hard choices have had to be made moving from the

current space with three levels to the temporary one.

“We looked at the collection,” DiPaolo said. The library ran what is called a weed report to cull out books that have not been read for the past 10 years. Those books will not be making the journey to the temporary space.

The Montauk Library is part of a network of 52 libraries in Suffolk County though, so if a book being searched for is unavailable, it will be transferred from a central network in Bellport.

DiPaolo sees the changes as an opportunity for growth. For example, in the temporary space, when it comes time for a film, “instead of having a projector and a big screen that you pull down from the ceiling, The Friends of the Library have sponsored, and we just purchased, an 82-inch flat screen smart TV.”

When the new library is unveiled in 2021, the film series will return to a larger room in the new basement with a projector, and the 82-inch flat screen will be repurposed in a more intimate space designed for smaller groups.

“We want to keep it fresh,” DiPaolo said. “We want everybody to realize that just because we are in this temporary facility, we are not collecting dust.”

Some new additions, the director said, are a Print Buddy, a tool that allows the user to print an image from his or her phone or through a USB cord, and a PLAY Interactive Touch Table, described by its manufacturer as an interactive colorful entertainment system pre-loaded with educational games suitable for kids from ages two to 10.

DiPaolo anticipates a six-week transition period during the changeover. The library’s budget has also not increased this year for the first time in 40 years despite the transition. The expansion and renovation of the current building is being funded by a $7.5-million bond approved by community members last May.

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