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Jul 23, 2016 3:37 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Book Brigade Opens John Jermain Memorial Library

Catherine Creedon, director of the John Jermain Library, shows off the last book to leave the temporary space, Sag Harbor: An American Beauty by Dorothy Zaykowski. KELLY ZEGERS
Jul 23, 2016 6:44 PM

The John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor opened the doors to its newly renovated space on Main Street for the first time Saturday in a community-wide celebration.

Sag Harbor residents and visitors flooded Main Street sidewalks to form a "Book Brigade" that passed along the final book to leave the temporary library spot on West Main Street and deliver it to its revamped home. The book, "Sag Harbor: An American Beauty" by longtime Sag Harbor native Dorothy Ingersoll Zaykowski, was handed off almost 1,000 times on its way up Main Street.

"It's coming," shouted participants standing on tiptoe, eagerly waiting their turn to hold the book. Many people scurried up Main Street after passing the book along to keep the chain going, while throngs of spectators followed it on its way to the library's steps, snapping photos and cheering.

"This is Sag Harbor," Thomas J. Schiavoni, vice president of the Sag Harbor School Board said as the book neared and the crowd grew. "This looks like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting."

Library director Catherine Creedon, who was the first and last person in the brigade, triumphantly held up the book when it reached the library's steps.

"This is a great day for John Jermain Memorial Library," Nick Gazzola, the library's president, said. "It's a great day for Sag Harbor. A great community deserves great public spaces and this library has been one for more than a hundred years, and we just had to close the doors for a few to get ready for the next century."

Mr. Gazzola thanked those who made the library's renovation and opening possible, including Mayor Sandra Schroeder and the Village trustees, state assemblyman Fred Thiele, Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, and the library's board of trustees.

"Thank you, Cathy," he prompted the crowd to shout before Ms. Creedon took the microphone. He called it the worst-kept secret in Sag Harbor that the project never would have happened without her.

"I think public libraries are the most amazing places in the world and every day when I unlock the door to any library where I have ever worked, I feel like a hero because I know what public libraries can do," Ms. Creedon said. "But even though I love my job every day, this is the best day ever."

Mr. Thiele, along with Ms. Schroeder, Ms. Zaykowski, library vice president Craig Rhodes, and library employees and trustees, cut the ribbon to signify the library’s opening.

The crowd filed through the front doors to sign a new signature book. "If 'Sag Harbor: An American Beauty' by Dorothy Zaykowski is a celebration of our past, this book is a celebration of our future," Ms Creedon said.

Ms. Zaykowski was the first person to check out a book in the updated space.

"It's amazing that the whole community came together," Mireille Sturmann, the library's teen and adult services librarian said.

Chip Brown, of Sag Harbor, studied a spot where the new construction meets the original library structure, which opened in 1910. The brick exterior of the older building makes up walls in the new space.

"It's an interesting mix between classical architecture and modern," he said. "I think it's really cool."

Sag Harbor residents wandered the library, examining the restoration and checking out books.

Chiara Bedini, 12, and Simone Batiste, 13, were among that crowd. They wanted to become familiar with new space after visiting the library's temporary spot for the past five years.

"We've been going to the other smaller one," Ms. Bedini said. She said she barely remembered it from a few years ago.

"It's changed so much, but it's really nice, “Ms. Batiste said.

Library trustee Jaqueline Brody made her way to the top floor of the library where a brick, copper and stained glass dome, constructed by the R. Gustavino Company, tops the building.

"We've waited so long, we've worked so hard," she said. "Cathy did an absolutely miraculous job and this is really beautiful."

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Congratulations to the John Jermain Memorial Library. I wish you much success in your new space. I also applaud the fact that as an association library your Board amended its by-laws in 2004 to change from an appointed board to an elected board. Democratic. Simple. American.

The Westhampton Free Library Board should be elected as well since the Library is a taxpayer-funded institution. Taxpayers have been requesting the change for a year now, but Board President Tom Moore said moving ...more
By st (128), westhampton beach on Jul 29, 16 1:42 PM
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