By: Jennifer Corr & Julie Prisco
The New York State Education Department in October awarded $34 million to 233 public libraries and systems across the state, including the Great Neck Public Library and the Port Washington Public Library. The funds are meant to help libraries construct new buildings, create additions, update electrical wiring and computer technology, improve broadband infrastructure, meet energy-efficiency standards and renovate facilities to provide full accessibility to library users with disabilities, as well as create meeting spaces to accommodate community needs.
“State Construction Aid allows public libraries the opportunity to meet the changing demands of the modern world. Nassau’s residents still use the library to browse and borrow books, but they also use libraries as remote workspaces and for the experience of learning together with others at events and programs,” Nassau Library System Assistant Director Nicole Scherer said. “The public library building is an essential community asset. Construction Aid is critical for ensuring public libraries can continue to keep their buildings responsive to community needs.”
A press release from the State Education Department stated that project activities eligible for awards include financing broadband infrastructure, construction of new library buildings, construction of additions to existing buildings, and the renovation or rehabilitation of existing space. The projects can include roof replacement; the purchase and installation of alternative energy sources, HVAC systems, windows, doors and lighting systems; electrical upgrades; and construction of new or replacement walkways, parking lots, standby generators, and electric vehicle charging stations. In addition, new furniture, shelving, and equipment, including computer equipment, can be purchased for new or newly renovated spaces.
“Priority is also given to renovations designed to provide accessibility for patrons with disabilities and projects to extend library services to people residing in geographically isolated and economically disadvantaged and distressed communities,” the press release stated.
The libraries in Nassau County determine what projects they would like to do to improve their library. Then the Nassau County Library System helps the libraries apply for funding for the different projects and assists the libraries throughout the application process.
The Great Neck Public Library received $297,281. The money will go toward the renovation of the Parkville Branch, which will change the interior design to capture the best use of the space while maximizing function and appeal.
The Great Neck Public Library system is comprised of four different buildings: the main building, the Lakeville Branch, the Station Branch and the Parkville Branch. The Parkville Branch is located at 10 Campbell St.
Like most libraries, the Great Neck Public Library offers many events, courses and workshops for young children, teens, adults and seniors. Every branch in the Great Neck Library system offers different events. With the money the Parkville Branch has received, it will be able to redesign it’s space to increase availability for the fun and informational events that many residents attend.
The Port Washington Public Library received $279,282. The money will fund upgrades to the exterior library building facade to improve energy performance and reduce air and water infiltration. Roof replacement above Adult Learning Center is also in the plan for upgrades.
“It is a multi-phase project,” said Port Washington Public Library Director Keith Klang. “The long-term goal of the project is to make the library more sustainable, lower energy costs, and reduce any kind of water infiltration to the building that would structurally compromise us.”
Phase one of the two-phase project began right after Labor Day. Phase one focuses on the facade and roof of the building being renovated. Then phase two will involve resealing all of the windows around the perimeter of the building and doing dome glass replacement where needed.
“The funding from the Library Construction Aid is something that we advocate for every year with help from our legislators, our representatives and our advocates in Albany,” said Klang. “We’re not alone on this; there are lots of libraries across the state than need this kind of help. For us to be great libraries, we need to have the buildings to be able to serve the community. We’re really appreciative to everyone for helping secure the funding.”
“A library is a point of pride for any community as the embodiment of its belief in the power of learning and connecting with each other,” Scherer said. “This is especially true in Nassau County, where people deeply value opportunities for personal growth. Our public libraries serve in that capacity for people of all ages and all interests whenever they are ready for it and we are rewarded with passionate patrons in return.”