New Edgartown Library set to open its doors to patrons Monday

The twists and turns would make a good read; after two years of construction and many years of planning, the next chapter begins.

The shelves are newly stocked and paintings are waiting to be displayed. – Photo by Cathryn McCann

Following the move of about 40,000 items and two years of construction, the Edgartown Free Public Library is set to open its doors to patrons at 11 am Monday in its new location at the foot of West Tisbury Road, adjacent to the Edgartown School.

Speaking to The Times Wednesday, library director Lisa Sherman was ebullient. “It is such an exciting opportunity to be at this library at this time in its history,” she said. “I think the entire staff feels that way. It’s amazing to be here as this opens to the community.”

The Monday opening has been a long time coming for the Edgartown community. After 112 years during which the Carnegie building served as the Edgartown Library, and following considerable discussion about possible sites, in January 2014 Edgartown selectmen voted to accept a bid from Maron Construction to build the new library on the site of the former school. Officials broke ground for the new building in March 2014. A series of construction delays, related in part to last winter’s unseasonably large snowfall, delayed equipment delivery, and water in the excavation site early on in construction set the project back.

One year later, on Saturday, March 5, following a short ceremony, library staff invited children and patrons to christen the new library with the symbolic move of several dozen children’s books. A line of Island children and their parents shuttled books through downtown Edgartown from the closed Carnegie library on North Water Street to the new building.

Celia Imrey, a New York City–based architect and Edgartown resident, designed the $11 million building. Unlike the Carnegie building, the new library is spacious and overflowing with natural light.

“This building is twice the size of the Carnegie, so our work flow is changing,” Ms. Sherman said. “There are lots of places for patrons to sit to read or work; we have conference rooms that are available for people to book, and we have an enormous program room that we are really looking forward to utilizing in so many ways that we couldn’t do downtown.”

The new library also includes a large children’s room, community event room, and private study rooms. A two-floor reading room will house the young-adult area on the first floor, and the general collection on the second. Both levels, separated by a flight of stairs in the middle, feature desks and workspaces equipped with ample electrical outlets to charge laptops.

“The children’s room is beautiful and big and bright and airy,” Ms. Sherman said. “It was in the basement at the Carnegie, so it’s like night and day.”

The proximity to the Edgartown School, coupled with the large new children’s space, will bring children’s programming and family events to the fore in the new location. Expanded parking will make the building more accessible to the community.

“We’re all really excited to open the doors,” Ms. Sherman said. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

The Carnegie building is set to be handed over to the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, which bought the building from the town for $1 in July 2015. The trust plans to move its headquarters to the site and create a visitor’s center after extensive internal renovations to the building.