On June 1, construction on the North Bellmore Public Library began for a long-awaited, 13-month re-design and expansion project. Staff members have moved to a temporary location with limited space and resources, but they said they will still serve the community and accommodate visitors.
The $8.9 million project is being financed with a 15-year bond approved by North Bellmore School District voters in May 2015. It will add 4,500 square feet of space to the library, including a new community room. The children’s library will nearly double in size, according to Ray Beeler, the project’s architect.
Library Director Tom Bazzicalupo added that the renovation is much needed. “I’ve been here since 1991, and the library still looks the same,” he said.
Beeler, of Gallin Beeler Design Studio, took a variety of suggestions from community members and the staff, many of which were incorporated in the final design.
“It’s extremely heartening that such good suggestions came from the community,” Beeler said.
The project will not only add needed space, but also will make for a more pleasant visit for patrons, Bazzicalupo said. The original community room will receive new lighting and a stage, for instance, and a gas fireplace — a patron’s recommendation — will be added to the main reading room. The fireplace can be enjoyed by visitors for casual reading and relaxation, according to Bazzicalupo.
The building’s exterior will be expanded on three sides. In addition to the children’s library and community room expansions, the construction will add a special-needs area to the children’s section. There, any children with special needs, such as those with autism, will be able to enjoy a private space to learn and play, Bazzicalupo said. The entire interior and exterior will be changed as well, including carpeting, furniture and a glass exterior.
The library team is now working out of a temporary location behind Newbridge Road Elementary School on Bellmore Avenue, in a trailer much smaller than the original library. Staff members have spent the past week moving a number of books, shelves and furniture to the new site.
The temporary site is still home to a limited collection of the library’s resources. Some 30,000 items are available to take out, including books, magazines and DVDs. Fax and printing services are available, as well as four public computers and one scanner. The staff is also establishing an internet connection for the trailer and hope to get it running soon, according to Bazzicalupo.
Bazzicalupo also made sure that the temporary location uses the same phone number. The postal service is aware of the move, so any mail can also be sent to the original library address at 1551 Newbridge Road in North Bellmore.
While staff members made sure to keep the most popular items available, if an item is needed that is in storage, they will help locate a library that has it available and will help get it.
The trailer fits only 33 people, so Bazzicalupo is wary of holding events or meetings in the temporary location. In the interim, the board of trustees has approved all programs and events to be held at Grace Lutheran Church, at 1294 Bellmore Ave.
Bazzicalupo will send out a community newsletter once events are scheduled.
“I’ve been here since 1991, and I love it,” Bazzicalupo said. “I was the head of children’s programs, so I did storytelling and crafts, and I still get visits from the kids I worked with sometimes. It’s an honor to be surrounded by a community of such nice people. Thank you to the patrons for their understanding and patience.”