The Westhampton Free Library is one of several Suffolk County libraries to be awarded an American Star designation from the Library Journal, one of the oldest and most respected publications covering the library field.
As previously reported in The Independent, the Westhampton Free Library Association opened its doors on Main Street on March 1, 1897, with a charter signed by Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System, the gold standard in classification for libraries around the country.
In 1906, property owned by Ralph and Laura Cutter was gifted to the library and the first building was erected at a cost of $3200.
Then, according to the library’s website, in 1951, a gift from the Westhampton Chapel Society led to the erection of the Library Avenue building. Two extensions were added two years later, courtesy of the Judge Harold Medina Fund. Over the next 30 years, the library continued to expand to suit a growing community, with further additions and expansions, and then the purchase of the Library Avenue location in 2003 as a site for the library’s programs.
But as it grew, it also needed renovations. The library moved to a temporary location in September 2008 and stayed there until the new building opened on June 26, 2010. The Westhampton Free Library received its LEED Gold Certification in December 2010.
Thanks to a New York State Public Library construction grant for $357,731, the library was able to recently renovate and expand its children’s program room, provide a new teen area and program room, new multipurpose room, new tween area, and reconfiguration of the main floor of the library to accommodate more efficient flow, a new lounge area, group study, and a quiet study room.
The library reopened in September 2019 to great local fanfare.
This is the 10th year that the Westhampton Free Library has received this prestigious distinction and the sixth that it has been honored with a five-star status.
The Library Journal’s star ratings are based on a library’s annual patron visits, circulation, program attendance, and public internet computer use. The data is compiled annually by public libraries, reported to their states’ library agencies, and compiled nationally by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
“We work very hard to offer programs that enhance the Westhampton Beach community and provide our patrons with services that are helpful and educational,” stated Westhampton Free Library Director Danielle Waskiewicz. “This award shows that the community appreciates these efforts.”