East Hampton’s high school students have a new place to hang out after classes and it’s all about them, from design to decor.
The $400,000 young adult room in the East Hampton Library at 159 Main St. opened Nov. 19 and has grown in popularity in the weeks since then.
“It’s a great idea to have a room where high schoolers can relax after a day at school,” said Gaby Arevalo, 17, an East Hampton High School senior who is president of the library’s 12-member teen advisory board, which helped architects with the design.
The sleek, modern space, decorated mostly in bright green, black and light wood, was planned to give East Hampton’s high schoolers a place to do homework, collaborate on group projects, socialize, read books for young adults or just relax in comfortable chairs. Librarian Lisa Michne is assigned solely to the room and the teens’ needs.
“We did an addition to the children’s room two years ago and the last phase we planned was the young adult room,” library director Dennis Fabiszak said. “We were waiting to get more donations before we started it.”
Fabiszak said “a rather large gift” from a local resident allowed the project to move ahead with the same designers that had undertaken the children’s room, Manhattan-based Lee Skolnik Design.
But the project came with a very specific set of instructions from the teen advisory board: It was not to look like the beach-themed children’s room. The renovation started in March.
“A lot of libraries try to reach out to the public to get input [on projects], but I think this is unique,” Fabiszak said. “The library decided a few years ago that we needed dedicated spaces for each age group to encourage people to come to the library, and the last group we hadn’t created a space for was high school students.”
The teen advisory board was formed five years ago and is made up of students of different ages, mostly from East Hampton High School. They meet monthly and advise librarians about programs and other activities they think should be implemented to appeal to high-schoolers. They also perform community service for the library such as volunteering to help with displays and mailings.
The roughly 800-square-foot room was created from what was formerly a cinder block basement used for storage, and much of the labor was donated by local contractors.
“Working with the kids was fantastic,” said Lee Skolnik, principal in the design company, who wanted teen input for the project. “They were a very smart and sophisticated group. They told us how they wanted us to do the room, how they wanted it to feel.”
Skolnik said the board members wanted an airy room, with lighting reflecting off surfaces.
Ashley Simons, 17, vice president of the teen advisory board and an East Hampton High School senior, said word about the room is spreading.
“More and more people are coming,” Simons said.
Young adult room
The new young adult room at the East Hampton Library includes:
- laptop and desktop computers
- conference table
- rotating art gallery of photographs shot by high school students