Construction staff was directing traffic in front of the new Bayport-Blue Point Library. “They’re installing a new fire suppression water line under the road,” explained Gary Block, Park East Construction supervisor. Forty men were busy with tasks, but what was most evident was the new sidewalk, 600 square feet that spanned the northeast corner of Middle Road and Blue Point Avenue. Grey permeable pavers led to the front entrance off a new concrete walkway. They’ll be laid out in the west parking lot and east to the courtyard.
But inside, oh baby. You’re in for a treat.
“There will be a glass entry way,” said BBP Library director Mike Firestone of the new front windows as he entered. “They shelved out a display case on either side of the door as you walk in.”
It’s another way to entice patrons with the hottest books and happenings before stepping over the threshold.
Of the “wowee” additions, the library’s café, an area to the left as you enter, was spaced out. It overlooks Middle Road with lots of windows. “You can walk in, drop your books off, and get coffee,” Firestone said, envisioning future java sippers, wanting to read or take a nice break.
Down a western corridor was the Teen Center, a 1,000-square-foot area for teens to gather. “They’ll have their own reference librarian; there’s a gaming section and the furniture will be flexible. The stacks and tables will be on wheels,” Firestone pointed out, as well as computers.
The Children’s Wing, which took up 600 to 800 square feet in the current library, was expanded to about 9,000 to 10,000 square feet, commented Block of the footage. Firestone said bathrooms will be located in the program room so children won’t have to leave the area. The wing encompasses reading and programs from early childhood to kindergarten to the sixth grade. There’s also an entry from the west parking lot here.
“This will be the circulation desk in front of the former chapel,” Firestone said of the main entry, and then the reading sanctuary beyond, where warm wood and some of the beautiful stained-glass windows still held sway. The reading sanctuary will feature the popular books as well as seating with available internet power. It was right next to the adult mezzanine, a space that just about galloped.
For those new to the area, the building had been the former home of the St. Ursula Center, the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, since the 1930s. The library purchased the property and building in 2018 and was renovating an already uplifting community space to a newer version that would help elevate minds.
The main meeting room with the fireplace will host the baby grand piano, currently in the library on Blue Point Avenue. “We kept the nuns’ commercial kitchen that adjoins this room,” Firestone said. “The café may use it and we’ll bring our cooking classes here.”
All of that is on the main floor so adults of all ages can maneuver.
Upstairs, the meeting rooms were being completed, including the Gene Horton Room, in honor of the beloved Blue Point historian, where local history will be stocked, larger than first viewed. “It will have the highest of finishes and lockable wood shelves for some of the older, more fragile books,” Firestone explained.
The little chapel is now a quiet study room; a music room will be available for lessons with an upright piano; an elevator will zip people up and down besides stairways; and the Makers Space will have shadow boxes between windows of projects made here. It is huge.
Firestone and BBP Library board president Ron Devine Jr. discussed concerts.
Concerts? Yes. “We already booked Bon Jovi,” joked Devine.
The Eagle Scout arbor, benches and planters outside will be moved to the new nature explorium. “We also have bat boxes built by Eagle Scouts,” said Firestone. And the Sisters of Tildonk cemetery on the grounds will be honored.
“We’re at the end of our finishing work,” Firestone said. Grants raised to help with library costs tallied in at $1.2 million. “We’re within our budget,” he added. “The property cost $3.65 million and construction was $13.2 million. It might be September that we can open, but October is safe.”