By JOHN BRANDI
Patrons can once again visit the Harrison Public Library, as the space has reopened with a new layout and improved technology to better meet the needs of the 21st century.
After having been closed for more than a year for internal renovations, the 2 Bruce Lane space was unveiled on Saturday, Sept. 12 with a ceremony which included talks from elected officials, Japanese dancers, storytelling and calligraphy
“The library has been totally rebuilt from the inside out and we are excited to show you what it now has to offer,” said Galina Chernykh, library director. “It’s welcoming, spacious and now has a lot of light.”
Renovations included an updated look to the children’s section, which now has a giant iPad in the middle of the room that can be simultaneously used by six kids, according to Chernykh. A new addition for teens was carved out, which includes space for group and private study with improved lighting and an enhanced wireless network. New furniture and charging stations for handheld devices were also incorporated into the design.
H3 Hardy Collaboration, a Manhattan-based architecture firm, was responsible for the re-design, and Nathan Rittgarn, an architect from the company who worked on the project, previously told the Review that it was a “gut renovation.”
The renovations also introduced more than 30 new computer stations throughout the building, and the library’s extensive Japanese-language book collection, the largest collection of both youth and adult Japanese-language books in Westchester County, has been relocated within the Harrison facility.
“The collection is important for making newcomers feel welcomed, to remember forever the atmosphere that they were a part of the community,” Chernykh said of the collection and how those on a work visa in Harrison, who then move away, have commented on the library’s Facebook page detailing their positive experiences.
The library also entered into an agreement with Cablevision to now have an in-house television broadcast studio for the institution to videotape their programs and eventually, for the library to have their own broadcast channel, possibly on YouTube, according to the director.
The $3.6 million project was part of a roughly 50/50 public-private partnership between the town, the library and its foundation and the Richard E. Halperin Memorial Fund, which was formed in November 2010, two years after Halperin, a West Harrison resident and past zoning board member, died.
The Halperin Foundation contributed $1.3 million. Other donations came from the Javitch Foundation, in honor of the late Harrison resident Lee Javitch, the Jarden Corporation and Morgan Stanley. In addition, more than 500 private donors contributed to the project as well.
While the main library was closed since August 2014, a legal dispute was settled between the Purchase Free Library and its landlord, Purchase Community, Inc., when residents voted to save the institution from eviction back in April 2015 and allowed it to remain in its current space on Purchase Street. At last count, 11,700 patrons visited the Purchase library in 2013, according to the Westchester Library System.
In the meantime, while the downtown library was closed, patrons were encouraged to visit the West Harrison branch for their library needs. With more staff rerouted there, the library was free to expand and redirect resources to their own pet projects, like Harrison Remembers, a digital collection of the history of some areas throughout the town.
Chernykh said staff returned to the downtown library six weeks ago ahead of the unveiling. She said events will commence immediately at the space, such as its fall series, in conjunction with SUNY Purchase.