Upgrades could be coming for Port Jeff Free Library

Upgrades could be coming for Port Jeff Free Library

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The children's section of the Port Jefferson Free Library. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Don’t judge the Port Jefferson Free Library by its cover, at least not before ground is broken on potential renovations.

The board of directors at the Port Jefferson Free Library are mulling ideas for upgrades in the hopes of meeting the needs of the community as a 21st century library. At a public meeting Sept. 14 at the library, the board and architects from Patchogue-based BBS Architects & Engineers discussed options for upgrades and listened to input from the community. In addition to its annual operating budget, the volunteer organization, Friends of the Library, is seeking donations from the public to be able to afford the total cost of potential renovations.

“We want to figure out what you guys want to see from your library going forward, not just the next five years, but 10, to 15, to 30,” Library Director Tom Donlon said to residents in attendance during the meeting. “We’ve been doing a lot of research, a lot of work. You guys have had a lot of questions.”

According to the board’s presentation, goals of the eventual renovations will be to relocate the library’s teen center, which is currently across the street from the main building; establish a more functional meeting space than the current one in the library’s basement; provide visitors with access to more computers and other technology; and expand the use of existing space in the main building, among others.

Community members in attendance suggested issues they’d like to see addressed by the project. Some aligned with the board’s plans, including technology expansion and improvements, better use of existing library space and a larger area for group meetings. In addition, residents want to see better elevator access and expansion to connect the property at 205 East Main Street, which the library purchased in 2015.

“It was in good shape, and it lent itself to the history of Port Jeff, and we all know, Port Jeff, we love our history,” Donlon said of the historic house, which was built in 1812, according to the Port Jefferson Historical Society. “We love to honor it, we love to soak ourselves into it, we believe in it. Our best plan of action, not only for the library but for the village, was for restoration and preservation. So that’s the mode we’re getting into.”

The next step in the process will be to formulate a complete design plan to be presented to the community. That meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place in the coming weeks. For more information about the project or to contribute to fundraising efforts, visit www.portjefflibrary.org.