Written by Chris Boyle, email@example.com Thursday, 12 June 2014 00:00
The Plainview-Old Bethpage Library, a vital community hub and learning annex for local residents, has hit the half century mark.
The library held a 50th anniversary party recently, celebrating with tours, music, balloons, children’s games and refreshments. The library also hosted a ceremony at which long-time supporters shared tales of the library’s rich history.
For current library director Gretchen Browne, the day had many meaningful moments, but among them all one shone brightest, she said.“The highlight for me, personally, was that we got the family of the library’s original architect, the late James Stanley Goldstein,” she said. “We had his son and daughter-in-law, both architects, and his wife come to the library all the way from Maplewood, New Jersey...they had never been to it before. In fact, this was James’ first library job back in 1963, and he had done a lot of libraries in New Jersey since the Plainview site.”
Browne noted that Goldstein’s family was very impressed with how the library building was able to change and evolve throughout the last 50 years. When it was initially designed, she said, it was the first library to ever feature geothermal cooling, although this feature was eventually replaced with a conventional cooling system after issues with the Long Island aquifer.
Browne said that the library was originally started across the street from its current locale, back in 1956. The present-day address of the library was nothing but an empty lot that was popular with locals when it came time to dump their grass cuttings.
However, she said that soon the community decided that the lot could serve a far better purpose as the base for an expanded library.
“Eventually people voted on it, and the school district purchased it...the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District owns the property and the building,” she said. “The building was then constructed, and the doors first opened in April of 1964, making April of 2014 our 50th anniversary.”
Since it first opened, Browne said, there have been several additions to the library, including a non-fiction wing on the south side; a family center on the west side; an auditorium on the east side; and various changes within the footprint, including major changes to the lobby and the information desk at the entranceway. Plus, this year brought the completion of a huge $200,000 renovation project that saw new study and meeting rooms, as well as a new media department and office space for staff added.
“We’ve taken this building and put it through many transformations, which is the beauty of it,” she said. “Our newest renovations have provided new space for people to study and do work, as well as for community organizations to meet. We have over one hundred that meet in the library every year on a regular basis — and they were all occupied the minute the doors opened.”
New York State Assemblyman Charles Levine made it a point of paying a personal visit to the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library on this special day, saying that it represents a vital resource to each and every resident that it serves, year-in and year-out.
“The Plainview-Old Bethpage Library is without question a vital member of the community,” he said. “For half a century the library, the Friends of the Library and its staff have provided programming and services with dedication and commitment to excellence. Residents are fortunate to have a library of this caliber in their midst. I congratulate all those who have worked so hard for the benefit of the community on this milestone.”
In addition to local residents, curiosity seekers, and history buffs, several local community leaders also attended the library’s 50th anniversary celebration, including Joseph Eisner, current chairperson of the Library Board of Trustees (as well as the first-ever director of the library), Assemblyman Levine, State Senator Kemp Hannon, and Oyster Bay Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia; all steadfast friends of the library, according to Browne.
“It was a day of celebration and reflection,” she said. “We all learned a lot about the history of the library, which was really interesting...we’re very lucky that Long Island supports its libraries to the nth degree, and we offer so much to the 28,000 residents of Plainview-Old Bethpage, and we’re hoping to continue to do so for another 50 years and then some.”