New year, new space, happy patrons

ANNETTE HINKLE PHOTOS | The new lower level space is ready for the library’s littlest visitors.

ANNETTE HINKLE PHOTOS | The new lower level space is ready for the library’s littlest visitors.

It all began with a visit to the South Fork where Terry Lucas, director of the Shelter Island Library, and some members of the Shelter Island Friends of the Library traveled to Bridgehampton to take part in a seminar at the Hampton Library.

As the group gathered in the library’s downstairs community room, one of the Shelter Island participants noticed that the children’s area was also on the lower level, adjacent to the community room.

This was in stark contrast to the Shelter Island Library where the kids’ section has always been on the main floor and, at times, bothersome to the adult patrons. 

“They knew at 2:30 when the kids came in, it was going to get loud,” Ms. Lucas said. “It either didn’t bother them or they’d leave. That’s one of the few complaints I got from them. When you have 15 to 20 kids coming in the door, it’s not going to be quiet.”

But at the Hampton Library, that didn’t seem to be an issue at all.

“They didn’t seem to be disturbing anyone,” said Ms. Lucas. “Someone said, ‘Why can’t we do this in our library, so the kids have their own space?’ I said that seems like a great idea. I asked if the Friends would fund it.”

They agreed, and over the course of two days — Friday and Saturday, December 22 and 23 — the Shelter Island Library closed and the move took place. A.R. Kropp and Company, a firm that has remodeled libraries throughout Long Island, did the heavy lifting and when the facility reopened the day after Christmas, many patrons had gotten what they wanted — a lower level dedicated to children and teens, and a main level filled with all the offerings that appeal to adults, including an extensive non-fiction collection which had been largely overlooked when it was kept on the lower level.

To see a time lapse video of the move shot by K.C. Bailey, go to

“No taxpayer money paid for the move,” Ms. Lucas said. “It’s something we wouldn’t do so soon after rebuilding the front entrance.”

The young adult area is in the same room as the little kids' area — set apart by bookshelves

The young adult area is in the same room as the little kids’ area — set apart by bookshelves

Instead, the move was paid for with a combination of privately-raised funds from the Friends of the Library and a $25,000 building grant from the State of New York, which the library will receive in June.

“We originally asked the Friends for $42,000 and they have covered whatever bills have come up — in the end, it will be more than $42,000,” Ms. Lucas said, explaining that expenses included moving a camera to better monitor the children’s section and the installation of a downstairs telephone.

It also included the purchase of new furniture for the smaller children.

“I think the Kropp Brothers have been really reasonable,” said Ms. Lucas. “They have gotten furniture that is well built and cute. It has a lot of color including greens, blues and grays with an ocean theme. The little kids chairs have cut outs of seahorses and starfish. It’s special for them. They had hand me down stuff before. Now they have their own space done really nicely.”

Another benefit of the move is that the teens now have an area that is separate from the younger children. The library is still

“The older kids were on top of the little kids before,” Ms. Lucas said. “Now there is one area set off with chairs and couches for little guys and their parents. Then there’s another space for our after-school kids, who tend to be from ages 9 to 15, to do homework and play video games. It’s a little more grown up looking.

“It’s still the same room, but we’re using bookcases to divide it,” she said. “The after-school kids are at a different place than the little guys, so I wanted them to have something of their own.”

Downstairs, the use of shorter shelving units lets in much more natural light than before, and because the units are on wheels, Ms. Lucas noted that should an event in the community room require more space, the retractable dividing wall can be opened, and the books and furnishings  moved to create a larger presentation area.

Upstairs, the former children’s section is now home to the non-fiction collection, and Ms. Lucas noted that the plan is to install a couple cozy chairs and a table near the south facing window so adults  can settle in to do some reading (another item on the wish list of many patrons. Perhaps best of all is the fact that the children’s section is accessable through a lower level door, so young people can come and go without disturbing library users on the main floor.

“The kids will also be able use the patio off that door more,” Ms. Lucas said adding that Youth Services director Anthony Zutter will be offering outdoor projects for children as well. “That’s ideal. We’re doing the best we can with the space we have. In 6,000 square feet, to fit everything we want to do is challenging.

“I think this will make it better,” she added. “I love that the kids feel it’s their space. It’s really exciting … a new year and a new start.”

Libarian Joceyln Ozolins at her new desk in the former children's area — now home to the library's non-fiction collection.

Libarian Joceyln Ozolins at her new desk in the former children’s area — now home to the library’s non-fiction collection.