For three weeks, the books and bookkeepers of Sea Cliff’s Village Library were relocated to the Stenson Children’s Library just down the street to make way for renovations. On May 21, the library reopened, and residents were welcomed with new interior upgrades, additions Arlene Nevens, the library’s director, believes much better suit the building, which was formerly a church.
The Tudor-style structure gives way to wide-spanning walls and high ceilings that received a much-needed fresh coat of paint during renovations. Over the years leaks had sprouted in the roof — which has since been replaced — and as a result, the interior walls began to crumble.
As you turn your eye upward, three marbled chandeliers have taken the place of the old, tubular fixtures that resident Mike Lennon said resembled the Sputnik satellite. “The lighting on the ceiling was something of an eyesore,” he said. “It stood out like a sore thumb.”
Lennon, who has patronized the library for almost 30 years, made it his mission to rid the library of its rocket-like lamps. “I thought any fundraising I would do would be a long shot, but I started anyway.”
Thus began the village’s biannual Offbeat Artifacts Sale. The Friends of the Sea Cliff Library also host fundraisers throughout the year to benefit both spaces, and to date have raised over $30,000.
In 2016 the village received two grants from Senator Carl Marcellino and Assemblyman Charles Lavine to renew the library’s interior. Funding was also provided by the village.
Though Lennon hasn’t seen the results of his efforts, word quickly spread about the new and improved additions. “I heard it’s gorgeous,” he said. “It makes me feel proud to be a part of it.”
Nevens is grateful to the residents who helped bring the library into its newfound glory. “It speaks to the place it has in the fabric of this community,” she said.
Children’s library director Ann DiPietro said the new renovations were worth the wait. “The paint gives an ethereal glow to the room, and the new light fixtures are truly transformative,” she said.
Nevens said future improvements will include replacing the carpet, reupholstering chairs, and renewing worn or chipped panels on the book stacks.
Lennon’s hope is that any additional upgrades further complement the monastic feel he experiences while checking out a book. “It serves as a kind of monastery in that it offers extreme release,” he said. “My hope would be 100 years from now my great grandchildren will walk in, and it will be almost like a time capsule.”
Residents are invited to attend an open house celebration at the library to commemorate the new renovations later this summer.