As Information Increasingly Moves Online, Local Library Reimagines Itself As Community Center & Gateway To The Internet
WEST ISLIP, NY, November 6, 2018—As information moves increasingly to digital formats, our nation’s libraries, the wellsprings of hardcopy knowledge, printed periodicals, and paper books, are left in a limbo of increasing irrelevance, with a gradually diminishing number of library patrons and a community role that is slowly being eroded over time.
But West Islip Public Library in West Islip, NY, with the help of Paul Cataldo Architecture & Planning (PCAP), is choosing to not only embrace this digital movement with its August renovation, but support their community in this new online world.
The library’s renovation converts an increasingly underutilized periodical room into a condensed periodical display space, a tech-ready reading room and a meeting room with high-speed video and media capability.
“This project here…is indicative of what many libraries are going through change-wise, where they’re converting spaces from book depositories to meeting spaces or community-based activities,” explained Paul Cataldo, principal of PCAP and lead architect on the renovation.
Besides the new welcoming gas fireplace, the renovated reading room boasts a new computer counter and USB and AC outlets at every seat, providing a way for patrons to recharge phones and laptops and connect to the internet. “Everywhere you sit in this reading den, there’s someplace to plug in,” Cataldo explained. “Libraries will always be about education. If that means less physical resources like newspapers and magazines, then we’re going to hand people something even better—a way to reliably and comfortably enjoy the amazing resource and the limitless amount of knowledge available online.”
Along with an oversized internet-ready smart television, the new adjoining meeting room boasts energy-efficient environmentally-conscious lighting and HVAC systems. The room provides a dedicated space to community groups and staff, allowing them to share information, teach classes, and learn, all with the ability to use online or video resources to enhance education.
“This is the greatest gift that I think we can give communities,” State Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino said in an interview with News12. “To provide more assistance for families, for kids, encouraging them to come and use their libraries more often.”
The renovation at West Islip Public Library is part of PCAP’s ongoing commitment to transform Long Island libraries and provide local residents with modern community centers that support the ever-evolving path to public education. In addition to West Islip Public Library, PCAP has also worked with Islip Public Library, creating a public garden terrace to enhance their community space.
“We are proud to be giving back to our community with these wonderful civic projects,” said Cataldo. “The mission of our architecture firm is to produce healthy buildings that advance the human condition and better their surroundings, environmentally, economically, and socially. We can think of no better way to advance society than to bring more people to their local libraries.”
Paul Cataldo Architecture & Planning is an architecture firm based in Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York. They specialize in sustainable design, green building and LEED-certified projects.