Bayport-Blue Point library board president, Ronald Devine Jr., left, and director...

Bayport-Blue Point library board president, Ronald Devine Jr., left, and director Mike Firestone, in the "Reading Sanctuary," where bookcases are bathed in sunlight streaming through aqua-blue stained-glass windows. Credit: Randee Daddona

For Bayport and Blue Point residents, going to their new library may feel like a religious experience.

Set to open Saturday following a three-year transformation of the former St. Ursula Center convent on Middle Road in Blue Point, the library evokes the 40-year-old building's ecclesiastical history.

In a former chapel, now dubbed the "Reading Sanctuary," bookcases are bathed in sunlight streaming through aqua-blue stained-glass windows.

And during a tour of the building on Thursday, library board president Ronald Devine Jr. pointed to white, circular ceiling lights on the second floor and noted their resemblance to angelic headgear.

"The halos kind of bring you back to the nuns," Devine told Newsday.

The new Bayport-Blue Point Public Library on Dec. 9, which...

The new Bayport-Blue Point Public Library on Dec. 9, which formerly housed the St. Ursula Center convent. Credit: Randee Daddona

The new library — twice the size of the current one, now closed, a half-mile away on Blue Point Avenue — will be opened to the public at 11 a.m. Saturday. Completion was delayed several months because of the pandemic and national supply-chain issues, Devine said.

Opening ceremonies will include the arrival of a wheelbarrow that recalls volunteers collecting donated books when the library was founded in 1938.

The current library, which will be sold, had become cramped and did not comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, library officials said.

Bayport and Blue Point residents in December 2018 approved a $16.85 million bond to buy the convent and convert it to the library.

Library district residents will see a $228 annual tax hike to pay for the new library. Taxpayers will benefit from low interest rates that are expected to cut loan repayments by about $3 million over the 17-year life of the bond, library director Mike Firestone said.

The Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, the small Catholic order that had lived in Blue Point for eight decades, sold the convent in 2019 for $3.65 million as its dwindling membership aged and became unable to reside there.

Sister Joanne Callahan, the order's local province leader, said she toured the revamped building several weeks ago and enjoyed seeing that the stained-glass windows had been preserved. Several nuns plan to attend opening ceremonies, she said.

"I loved it, and I think the sisters are going to be so touched by it," Callahan said in a phone interview Friday. "I think they used the space we had and created it into something [new], but they still recognized what was, especially in the chapel area."

The larger library allows the display of 25% more books that had been in storage, Firestone said. There also are more community rooms for meetings and classes, more parking and space outdoors for a nature center and a stage for shows, he said.

The Children's wing. The library also has a swanky hangout...

The Children's wing. The library also has a swanky hangout room where teens can browse the stacks and watch videos on a big-screen television. Credit: Randee Daddona

Unlike the old library, the new one has special reading rooms for toddlers, elementary school-age children and teenagers — with a swanky hangout room where teens can browse the stacks and watch videos on a big-screen television.

With the additional space and more modern facilities, library officials said they plan to hold more public events, such as readings by local authors, concerts and children's programs.

"There's so much to offer to the public," Firestone said. "I can't wait to open this to them."

The new Bayport-Blue Point Public Library, opening Saturday in a converted convent, includes the following:

28,573: Total square footage

104: Parking spaces

6: Community rooms, including local history section named for late historian Gene Horton

5: Study rooms

1: Music room

1: 3D printer shop

3: Sections for toddlers, elementary-school-age children and teens

2: Pianos

1: Cafe, with kitchen

$16.85 million: Total cost (including purchase of property)

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