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Oceanside Library preparing for $33.5M revamp

Facility to temporarily move in fall as work begins

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As the Oceanside Library prepares to undergo a major overhaul, officials have announced that it will soon move to a temporary home, where it will maintain all of its current services.

In June, residents voted to approve a $33.5 million bond to up-grade the facility, and administrators are finalizing plans to present to the Hempstead Town Board at the end of the month. Construction will force the library to close temporarily, but administrators said the facility would move services to the Lincoln Shopping Center in the fall until work is complete.

“It’s getting very exciting,” said Tony Iovino, the library’s director of community services. “This is all kind of coming together. We are actually building two libraries at the same time, essentially, so there’s a lot to do, but we have a great team. The staff has been great. The board has been great, and we’re relying a lot on the 26 focus groups that we held in the fall of 2019.”

Vision 2020, as the project is called, will mark the library’s first renovations in 25 years. The bond will fund the work in certain rooms, which will ultimately enable the facility to host more programs and shows while enhancing security and increasing energy efficiency, officials said. The bond will cost $1.8 million per year, and the average Oceanside homeowner’s annual library tax will increase from $314 to $454.

Iovino said the library board looked at about 20 rental and warehouse spaces in Oceanside and decided that moving to the Lincoln Shopping Center offered many benefits, including the size of the space, its accessibility, cost and parking. The space is 15,000 square feet, compared with the 30,000 square feet of the current library, but it also has 10,000 square feet of storage. Iovino was uncertain of the rental cost at press time, but noted that it was covered in the library’s budget, and part of the bond could also be used for rent.

“It will be a little bit smaller, but we’ll be able to provide all of the services that we typically provide here at the library,” he said.

For renovation of the library at 30 Davison Ave., administrators have contracted the Plainview-based EW Howell Construction Group as the construction manager, and H2M architects + engineers, based in Melville, and MDA Designs, in Brooklyn, as the design teams. Officials are working with the firms to finalize the plans for the redesign. All contracts and plans are posted at oceansidevision2020.com, and Iovino said library officials planned to host a virtual district meeting in the coming weeks once plans are finalized.

After construction is complete, the library will have 45 to 50 more parking spaces, as the library board recently closed on purchase of the properties next door to the library, which are now a private home and doctor’s office.

Library Director Chris Marra said she was “very excited” about the move to the Lincoln Shopping Center during construction and said that despite Covid-19 restrictions, the library has continued to offer a wide array of programs and services for the community.

“We expect to start reducing the restrictions very soon now that the state is relaxing the requirements and our staff is finally eligible for the vaccine,” she said. “We have added a number of services during the pandemic, some of which have received national recognition.”

Administrators increased opportunities for young residents to earn community service hours they may need, Marra said. Additionally, the library board voted to end fines for overdue items and keep the budget level this year. Because Oceanside is not a public library and works under a contract with the school district and there is no budget increase, there will not be a library budget proposition on the school budget vote in May. The $6.9 million spending plan will be automatically approved, the same as it was 2020-21.

Marra said the library has continued to offer curbside delivery, but residents are also permitted to enter the building to browse and borrow, use computers, stay at tables and use the copier (by appointment only, though that could soon change to no appointments later this month). The library’s programs remain virtual, and administrators have added a number of online resources, including a virtual chat feature, a book club concierge service, a personal “shopper” for patrons, for which a librarian chooses titles based on a person’s interests, and a movie and television streaming service.

Iovino said the library is working on a reopening plan, which will include the continuation of virtual programming while also welcoming back in-person offerings. Additionally, all program rooms will soon be designed with multiple cameras so they can be live-streamed in the future using different angles.

“We’re using the technology to push library services forward,” he said. “Smart libraries are going to come out of this stronger, and we like to think that that’s where we’ll be.”

Learn more at  oceansidevision2020.com.