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Shelter Island library opening postponed

Workers haven’t quite finished renovations at the Shelter Island Public Library, forcing officials to put off for one month the ribbon-cutting and dedication planned for Memorial Day weekend.

So the library has decided to hold an even bigger celebration on June 30, the same day as its Book and Author Luncheon, which will be raising some of the $700,000 needed to pay for the library work; no tax money was used for the project, which is being paid for exclusively through donations.

“The wait is almost over,” said library director Denise DiPaolo, who has been storing much of the library’s book collection in a blue trailer behind the building.

After entertainer Dick Cavett and his wife, and fellow author, Martha Rogers host the luncheon at the Ram’s Head Inn, the ribbon cutting will take place at 4 p.m. at the library.

While some big donors have made six-figure contributions, many more people have made small donations to help pay for the renovations. Last year, 175 people took part in the winter Turkey Plunge, bringing in more than $17,000 in pledges by jumping into the chilly water at a local beach.

The footprint of the 6,000-square-foot library was not enlarged by the renovation, but a new elevator made the basement accessible to the handicapped, and an outdoor courtyard was created so large community groups could hold meetings there.

Movable shelves are also being installed to increase the usable space for books.

On July 15 at 5 p.m., the library will hold a poetry reading in its community room, and has asked Shelter Island residents to sign up to read their favorite poems.

The library board decided to seek private donations for the work after a $4 million 2008 expansion proposal was turned down by voters, 655-178.

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