News

The Westport Library Opens New Riverwalk Level and Interim Library

June 4, 2018

Organization Thanks Community for its Robust, Continued
Support of Transformation Project 

 

Westport, CT– At a special ribbon cutting and reception today, the Westport Library officially opened the new Riverwalk Level and Interim Library. Today’s ceremonies marked the completion of the first major phase of construction in the organization’s long-awaited Transformation Project. The new Interim Library provides an exciting preview of what is to come when the entire Library is transformed in 2019, with features including: spectacular panoramic views of the Saugatuck River, a spacious program room, the latest technology, various quiet areas, materials representing all elements of the Library’s collection, a MakerSpace, expanded and enhanced outdoor spaces and more.

“Today is a momentous day in our history,” said Executive Director of the Westport Library Bill Harmer. “For more than a decade, this community has been working towards building a modern Library in sync with its needs and better able to support outstanding programs and events. Today, that vision is becoming a reality. The new design and myriad improvements will give our community a flexible, innovative space able to inspire curiosity, fuel creativity and build community for generations to come.”

The $20.8 million Transformation Project is made possible thanks to a robust show of support in the form of public and private funding. Public dollars from the Town of Westport were allocated in 2017 when the Town’s RTM unanimously approved the disbursement of $5 million for the initiative. The town’s funding will cover the cost to replace the dated and inefficient mechanical systems - the HVAC, plumbing and elevator - which are original to the 1986 facility. The Library also applied for and received a $1 million construction grant from the Connecticut State Library. The bulk of the funding for the project has come from private donors.  

“We are grateful for the extraordinary generosity we have received from the community for this ambitious project,” said Harmer. “The commitment, vision and unwavering support demonstrated by our donors have given us the ability to dream big and give Westport the leading-edge Library it deserves.”

The Library recognizes the leadership of its Cornerstone Society, in particular. The Society was established in 2014 to recognize those generous, committed individuals and organizations who have made leadership gifts of $250,000 and above to the Transformation Project.

Cornerstone Society members include: Howard J. Aibel, the Nancy Jones Beard Foundation, Kathryn Frazer Brooks, the Estate of Patricia Lauber Frost, the Komansky Foundation, Inc., John Kossak and Evelyn Kranes Kossak, Paula and Tom McInerney, Frances and Alan Offenberg, Irma and Joseph Schachter, the Sheffer Family, Roz and Bud Siegel, the Estate of Jerry A. Tishman, Christian J. Trefz and Eva W. Trefz, and the Michael M. Wiseman and Helen A. Garten Charitable Foundation, as well as several anonymous donors.

“Thanks to such strong community support, we now have a unique opportunity to bring the Library to life in new ways through continued fundraising efforts that will provide the organization with outstanding materials, tools, programs and features,” said Harmer.

During the next phase of construction, work will begin on the Main and Upper Levels of the Library. The Great Hall will be transformed into the Forum – a large, flexible open space on the main floor that can be used for daily meeting and study and reconfigured to accommodate up to 650 people for large events. The renovated Main Level will also feature more study space, highly visible customer service points, an exceptional collection of digital and physical materials (including audio/visual materials, new releases, curated collections of popular materials), the Library’s store, an expanded Café, including outdoor seating, plus a new recording studio and expanded MakerSpace and a completely renovated Children’s Library.

Construction on the next phase of the Transformation Project is expected to last approximately 10 -12 months. For more on the specific elements of the project and how to be involved, visit wltransformationproject.org. To learn more about Library programs and services available during this Interim Phase, visit westportlibrary.org.