Located at 280 Central Ave. in Lawrence, the Peninsula Public Library measures 13,500 square feet and serves 34,000 people, according to library officials. At just .38 square feet per patron it is the smallest space per user in the Nassau County Library System.
After several attempts during the past eight years, the library’s board of trustees and the Village of Lawrence approved a $3.333 million deal in September to purchase land for a new building near Zion Park and the Lawrence Long Island Rail Road station.
Plans for the new building are still being developed, and the residents of School District 15 — the Lawrence School District — will have an opportunity to approve the transaction through a referendum. The date has yet to be set, but it is expected be in the fall of 2018.
The hope of both the library board and the village is that the new building will become a place where the community can come together. “The library board and staff have been working diligently with our architects on designing a beautiful new library and community center that will best serve the growing and diverse needs of our patrons, in a cost-effective manner, for years to come,” said Sam Francis, the board’s president.
Library director Carolynn Matuelwicz said the new location further west on Central Avenue, but she believes it is a great spot. “There’s no perfect location,” she said. “Though this spot is not the most central it is near several schools, as well as the train station and bus stops.”
Library officials have said that the new building will be at least twice the size of the current one and will feature the latest technology. Additionally, it will have nearly 50 parking spaces reserved for library patrons, up from the 23 spots at the current building. Matuelwicz said that the building wouldn’t take away any parking spaces from commuters at the LIRR station, because parking spaces, reserved for commuters, will be created closer to the track.
In 2010 the village decided not to sell the library a 9,000-square-foot parcel near the same location following a $700,000 offer from the library in 2009. The library then signed a letter of intent to buy a half-acre of Temple Israel of Lawrence’s campus for between $2.5 million and $3 million, before deciding against the purchase the next year.
The library will also be soliciting ideas from the schools. “In the coming months we will be reaching out to members of the school district to share their ideas and opinions, and look forward to considering all the feedback we receive before any plans are finalized,” library Trustee Jeff Leb said.
For many years, libraries have been thought of as a place only for books, Francis believes the new PPL will be much more than that. “We envision a new library where books are just the beginning — it will accommodate a variety of special events and programs, offer expanded resources and facilities for families and children, and provide dedicated study areas and work spaces,” Francis said.
The process is still very much in the planning stages, and suggestions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.