At its Feb. 25 meeting, members of the Bryant Library board of trustees came together to publicly discuss their dilemma. The Roslyn-area public, they acknowledged, is satisfied with the state of the library and the services it provides. But that cannot hide the fact that serious problems remain. The library stands at a crossroads in its history.
A recent statement by the board claims that the library's current ability to "continue serving our patrons is severely compromised by the limitations of the building." In other words, the library "has no room for growth." For every item added to the library's collection, be it a book or audiovisual materials, one must be removed from the stacks. Board officials note that neighboring districts are engaged in improving and expanding their library facilities.
"The board believes that our residents are deservedly proud of the status and reputation of the Bryant Library," the statement continued. However, the library will need that same public's participation in ensuring the library's "excellence and future growth."
A recently completed strategic study has pinpointed the deficiencies of the current facility. The space needs, as defined by a committee of board and community members, include: Enough shelf space for books and audiovisual materials; quiet research and study areas; comfortable seating areas for reading, researching, and studying; a separate young adult area for group and individual study; a dedicated business center; and small areas for civic meetings, discussions, and workshops.
In addition, building and technology needs were listed as including: adequate wiring for current and future electronic equipment; an energy-efficient heating and air conditioning system; restrooms in the Children's department; Computer rooms in both adult and Children's services; and a Storytime room in Children's that is separate from a play area.
Mark Yohalem heads the Site Committee. At the meeting, Mr. Yohalem said his committee has been looking at alternate places to construct a new library. According to a Director's Report, also issued at the meeting, the committee had looked at a site in the Lumber Road section of downtown Roslyn. One place, the Nassau Suffolk Lumber site, may be too small for library purposes. The other, at the end of Lumber Road, may contain flooding problems. The proposed Park at East Hills has also been mentioned as a site. However, the site committee has been "discouraged" not to hold any continued interest in such a location.
The committee currently is down to two sites. One is the Frick Estate on the Nassau County Museum grounds. The other possibility is continued expansion at the current site on East Broadway. The committee is in consultation with Legislature Craig Johnson and State Senator Michael Balboni on the feasibility of whatever plan they choose. Concerning any property at the museum, a legislature would have to introduce legislation in the State Legislature and it would have to be approved in two consecutive sessions.
Evelyn Phillips, a member of the Community Relations Committee, seconded the notion that the biggest problem the board faces is a public satisfied with the current condition of the library. "They are unaware of the deficiencies, which can't be corrected on the current site," Ms. Phillips said.
Ms. Phillips added that the board needs input from the community while plans for a new library are being made. She hopes to have her committee meet with civic associations, PTAs, and local fraternal groups. The board needs to acquaint local residents with the library. They need to conduct tours of the library, so that the public does, in fact, become aware of what the building's deficiencies are. As Karen Miller put it, the board "needs to spread the word about the urgency of the situation." For now, the most important message the board can get out to the public is that things aren't okay with the current state of the library.
Bruce Belsky spoke for the Fund raising Committee. He said it is premature at the present time to do much aggressive fund-raising work. Echoing what other speakers had to say, Mr. Belsky said more community awareness on the situation is needed. Major funding for any renovation, he added, would come through bond issues. But the committee would have to get the numbers right, plus make sure the public perceives a need for expansion, before any vote might be set.