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Monday, May 25 News

Excitement for renovated library continues to grow

WESTPORT — It has been more than two weeks since the completely renovated Westport Library’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, but the momentum and excitement hasn’t stopped.

Library Executive Director Bill Harmer said the reception from the community has been great. In the popular material area on the main floor, the library books have been flying off the shelves.

“We can’t stock the shelves fast enough,” Harmer said. “We have a future forward space, but we still have those foundational values. We’re still about books, we’re still about quiet spaces.”

He said what’s most inspiring about libraries is they are accessible to all.

“Everyone is welcome when they come through our doors,” he said. “What we’ve done with the new library is we’ve added all these enhancements. There’s greater functionality, more spaces and a greater variety of things to do here.”

One of the most popular spots so far has been the new cafe, Harmer pointed out. After renovations, the cafe is now six times bigger than it used to be, with views of the Saugatuck River and a variety of food selections.

“It’s more than just a great place to get coffee though,” Harmer said. “It’s a place to hang out and even have meetings. We also have plans to do programming in here.”

Poetry readings, music ensembles and more could be held in the location as well. The cafe, like many of the areas in the library, has been redesigned to be multipurpose flexible, he said, with the outdoor deck also offering a space for residents to enjoy.

“It takes our advantage of our connection to the Saugatuck River,” Harmer said. “The community can enjoys these views here because it’s a public space.”

Director of Marketing and Communications Rachel Pegnataro said people have been drawn to the area since the June 23 ceremony.

“There was such an influx of people here and the feedback has been great,” she said.

The grandstand on the main floor and the Trefz forum have attracted many visitors, and Pegnataro said they have been told the area gives off a cozy, warm and welcoming feeling.

“It’s not what you may expect from a traditional public space,” she said.

The large screen in the Trefz forum has been a natural draw. Harmer said they have experimented with a variety of live telecasts from Saturday morning cartoons and the morning news to the library’s programs and the World Cup.

“What’s cool about it is that it’s in the backdrop and doesn’t disturb people from what they came to do,” he said.

The library’s laptop dispenser is another popular attraction, and provides visitors with a libray card an option of a Macbook or HP laptop.

“You can use the laptops and sit in the grandstand or work in the cafe,” he said. “If you have a PC that’s fixed, you’re limited to a space.”

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However, the single most popular feature so far has been the children’s space, Harmer said. With an array of views of the Saugatuck River, children’s books and activities, families can spend quality time in the area.

“We took the best real estate and made it available for families,” Harmer said.

One of the things Pegnataro said she has loved seeing in the library since its renovation is its flexibility, from the quiet space near the river walk to the children’s area.

“(The Library) has an ability to support so many things,” she said. “It’s designed to be as responsive as it possibly can be for the community we serve.”