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North Bellmore Library is open for reading

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With its shelves freshly lined with books and magazines and a slew of new technological offerings, the North Bellmore Public Library opened on Aug. 20, inviting a crowd of residents inside. The building’s more than year-long construction project concluded with a ribbon cutting that afternoon.

After that, nearly 200 residents hurried into the library for a glimpse of what was new. The interior has been revamped from top to bottom, including flooring, sound systems, top-of-the-line televisions, lighting, new event rooms and more.

The $8.9 million project broke ground on June 1, 2018, and library operations were temporarily moved to a nearby location on Bellmore Avenue. Within the 4,500 square feet added to the building are a new community room, a larger children’s room with a special needs-dedicated area, and a fireplace in the main reading room.

“Today we’re here to finally celebrate the opening of our renovated building,” board President Robert Gibilterra told the crowd before the ceremony. “We’ve restocked it with thousands of materials and also our most valuable assets — our truly excellent staff. They’re back in their building, and they’re very happy about that.”

“This is a big deal, and I have to say, there’s standing room only — [people are] spilling outside for a library opening,” said County Executive Laura Curran. “Libraries just provide such a place of solace, sanity and order. It’s such an important function in our society.”

With members of the board of trustees seated on the community room stage — a new feature of the library — Gibilterra thanked his colleagues and the library’s staff. Barbara Fillios, a trustee for more than 15 years, and Director Tom Bazzicalupo, who will retire at the end of the month after a 28-year career at the library, were recognized for their longtime service.

“The updates inside are beautiful,” Bazzicalupo said. “I wish I had time to appreciate it all,” he added with a smile, “but at least I’m leaving something behind.”

“Maybe we can coax Mr. B,” — as the staff affectionately refers to Bazzicalupo — “to come back and do some readings by our new fireplace,” Gibilterra said.