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Making the Library Even Better for the Three Village Community

Setauket, NY – November 1, 2021 – Emma Clark Library has announced a project to update its building space to maximize flow and usage for the public. This exciting endeavor will include building an outdoor terrace, reimagining the flow of the Main Reading Room for more delineation between the lively and quiet areas, and adding a small café.

Work on the outdoor terrace is scheduled to begin in early December, and once completed, patrons will be able to enjoy views of the building’s historic façade and the beautiful Setauket green landscape while reading their favorite book. These past 18 months with COVID-19 have taught us all more about the importance of outdoor spaces, and it has only amplified the Library’s original intention to create such a space for the public. This new outdoor area will add approximately 800 square feet for patron use. It will be fully accessible for all – wide enough for a wheelchair with a door that is ADA compliant. The public will only be able to enter and exit this safe, enclosed space through a door into the library; therefore, there is no risk of individuals leaving with items that are not checked out.

“We are excited to open library space in new and engaging ways,” remarked Deborah Blair, the Library Board of Trustees President. “Our terrace will offer fresh air and a lovely view where patrons can sit, read, and reflect, and the café will provide refreshment. We hope these additions will enhance the pleasure of reading a good book, chatting with friends, or just taking a break.”

The architect selected for this project is John Cunniffe, a local Stony Brook resident who has experience in preserving historical accuracy. Mr. Cunniffe has done numerous projects for Three Village organizations, such as the Three Village Historical Society, the Setauket Neighborhood House, Frank Melville Memorial Park, The Long Island Museum, and the Three Village Community Trust. Urban Village Contracting, Inc., a 3V-resident-owned local company with over 30 years of quality experience, will be executing the construction. The Library will remain open during construction, as much of the work will be done outside. For the indoor work, a majority of the construction will be done during off-hours to ensure as little disturbance and inconvenience to the public as possible.

Careful budgeting has allowed this project to proceed without asking the public taxpayer for additional funding.  The cost of the project will be paid from the Library’s Capital Fund along with money from New York State Aid for Library Construction (not additional tax levy).

Emma Clark anticipates that work on the Main Reading Room and café will start in 2022. The beloved, historic 1892 section will remain a quiet area partitioned from the rest of the Library by glass doors in the Queen Anne revival style, matching the architecture of the Library. There will be an architecturally sensitive glass partition between the front and back of the Main Reading Room, making it two separate spaces, with a new Reference Desk in the middle. Therefore, the front area of the Main Reading Room will be more vibrant for socializing and lively activity, while the back area will be closed off for quiet study and reading. The changes won’t affect or decrease the size of the Library’s collections.

In this front, lively area of the Main Reading Room, a small café will be added, perfect to grab a drink or bite to eat. Libraries are a community space, and cafés are a very popular addition among today’s libraries. Patrons often spend a long time in the building and at times like a quick break from studying for a snack, but also want to stay in the library. The Library would like to accommodate that.  The space will include comfortable seating that will be easily cleaned and sanitized. A vendor for the café has not been selected at this time, but it is anticipated that there will be several options with regards to food choices and keeping dietary restrictions in mind (nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, etc.). Additionally, the new partition will make it easy to restrict food and drinks to the café area.

“Our library has evolved quite a bit over the years. When the spaces in question were designed and built 30-plus years ago, the Library was a different place.  We’ve seen it become more and more of a community center for people of all ages to gather, meet with their neighbors, attend programs and the like,” explained Library Director, Ted Gutmann. “However, many of our patrons still value the Library for its ‘traditional’ offerings such as quiet study, browsing, and reading.  Unfortunately, sometimes the more ‘lively’ activities and the ‘quieter’ activities don’t coexist without some friction.  Although the planned changes aren’t drastic, they will address those factors by redesigning the space to make it possible for both functions to happily coexist.”

The Library Lobby, Children’s Department, and the Lower Level will remain the same.

Emma Clark Library is the oldest public library in Suffolk County in terms of continuous community service from its original location. Redesigning the space will help the Library to meet their mission and better serve Three Village, which includes improving the options for both gathering with friends and spaces for quiet work. The Library Board of Trustees and staff are committed to ensuring that the building works for Three Village – not just in the past, but for many years into the future as well.

More details and information, along with the architectural renderings, may be found at reimagine.emmaclark.org.

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, located at 120 Main Street in Setauket and on the web at www.emmaclark.org, provides public library service to all residents of the Three Village Central School District.

“The Heart of the Three Village Community”