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Sea Cliff Library gets $50,000 grant

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With a recent $50,000 New York state grant, Sea Cliff Village Library officials plan to purchase new furniture, carpeting and front doors, and expand the teen space, library Director Camille Purcell said.

A representative of State Sen. Jim Gaughran ap-       proached library officials in January to see if the library needed funds. Ar-lene Nevens, who was then the director and retired a month later, presented ideas on how the money might be spent to Gaughran. 

When Purcell became director in February, she immediately went to work to enhance the library’s collection of young- adult books to better serve the teen population of readers. The children’s library, she said, has long had extensive programs and collections, but once children hit middle school, there wasn’t much for them.

Purcell said she hoped to use part of the grant to purchase carrels for the teen space — individual desks with their surfaces blocked from others — which she said would be for studying. She has worked with librarians at North Shore Middle School and North Shore High School to learn more about what students need, and, she said, she hoped to help teens integrate more into the village library’s culture.

“If we can make them come to the library, make them feel invested in it and make them feel welcomed through programming and giving them ownership of a space where they can feel safe and comfortable,” Purcell said, “I think we’ll be doing a tremendous service to that population.”

Gaughran said that libraries are a safe place for students to be after school to relax and educate themselves. This is especially true during the coronavirus pandemic, he said, because remote learning has made it more important for students to have a place outside school to study.

Currently, North Shore Middle School students are in school every day. North Shore High School students are in school two days a week, and learn remotely the other three.

“When you have the ability to create a separate space for the teenage population, I think it’s great,” Gaughran said. “It helps the library provide better services, and parents will know that kids are in a safe place after school.”

Purcell also said she would work to update the library’s furniture and carpeting. Many of the library’s tables and chairs are 20 years old, she said, and they have a good amount of wear and tear. The new furniture will reflect the building’s Gothic Revival architecture, she said, but with a modern feel to it.

“We’re looking forward to really finishing the inside of the building [and] updating it while keeping still with the look of it,” Nevens said.

Another key addition to the library, Nevens said, will be new front doors. The current doors were installed 13 years ago, when she became director, she said, and since they have small windows, it is hard for passersby to tell if the library is open. She noted that during the pandemic, many might believe the library is closed when it is not.

Purcell said installing doors with larger windows would help link the library’s interior with the Village Green, where many library patrons go to read.

In 2015, Carl Marcellino, who was then the state senator representing Sea Cliff, secured a grant to install a new heating system, floors, cabinetry and furniture in the children’s library building, said Ann DiPietro, the children’s library coordinator. She and Nevens said they were pleased that Gaughran had secured funding to help modernize the main and children’s libraries.

“He’s always had a strong love of libraries,” DiPietro said, “so if there was ever a chance we would get money, it would be through his efforts.”