Lisa Michne, executive director of Hampton Library, is helping to...

Lisa Michne, executive director of Hampton Library, is helping to lead a planned renovation of the 147-year-old public facility. Library officials are looking for donations to support the project. Credit: John Roca

As a child growing up in Bridgehampton, Lisa Michne would ride her bike to Hampton Library, where she said she “fell in love with books.”

After about two decades in various roles at East Hampton Library, Michne, 64, returned two years ago to her hometown library as executive director.

Now she's helping lead a planned $1.9 million renovation of the 147-year-old public library to expand its services to meet the community's growing needs.

The library, after raising about $400,000 for initial groundwork, kicked off a capital campaign Saturday to seek donations to cover the remaining $1.5 million needed for the project.

“There's just a lot more demand for all of our wonderful services,” Michne said.

The library collected about $1.7 million through taxes for its 2023 budget, officials said.

The renovation plan doesn't include a physical expansion of the 12,000-square-foot building on Main Street in Bridgehampton, but rather a refurbishment of heavily used areas to offer more programs, the director said.

The library district’s population, which covers Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, has grown 75% during the last 15 years, based on the most recent U.S. Census data, Michne said.

Highlights of the plan include:

Refurbishing the children’s room, Expanding the young adult room, Doubling the size of the literacy room where English language classes, educational programs and meetings are held, and , Expanding technology to accommodate assistive hearing capabilities, video conferencing, virtual reality and better internet speed,.

Library trustee Eric Lemonides, 55, who co-owns the restaurant Almond across the street, has taken the role of fundraising campaign chairman. He envisions the library in its reconfigured form as having more of a “sense of warmth and a sense of home,” rather than just a place people check out books and leave.

“As I’ve been on the board, I’ve really come to realize more about what it is people need and want out of a library,” he said.

Fred Schmeltzer, 68, of Bridgehampton, served as chairman of the fundraising committee when the library underwent its last renovation more than 15 years ago and said the facility, which opened in 1877, is “integral” to the community.

The bonding the library did for that renovation was paid off by early 2019, according to Michne.

Southampton Town last year established the Bridgehampton Historic District along a stretch of Main Street that includes the library and the building was included as a “contributing resource.”

The building, a combination of Stick style and Queen Anne style architecture, opened with the largest collection of books east of Brooklyn, according to a report last year by the Southampton Town Historian’s Office.

The library partners with school districts on several programs, according to Mary Kelly, Bridgehampton school district superintendent. She said elementary school students recently completed a library card program and staff members work with them once a week as part of an after-school program.

“They’re a fabulous partner and provide tremendous support for our kids and families,” Kelly added.

Michne said the one-room Sagaponack School also uses Hampton Library as a resource.

The library official said she hopes the renovation can begin this year and it's undecided if the library's operations will be relocated during construction. Relocating would allow the project to be completed faster, she said, adding that she's “researching” possible sites.

Schmeltzer said the library has been like a “retreat” for him where he finds a “little nook” to read — mostly fiction — and escape the glow of his cellphone screen.

“It’s been invaluable to me and my life out here over the years,” he said.

As a child growing up in Bridgehampton, Lisa Michne would ride her bike to Hampton Library, where she said she “fell in love with books.”

After about two decades in various roles at East Hampton Library, Michne, 64, returned two years ago to her hometown library as executive director.

Now she's helping lead a planned $1.9 million renovation of the 147-year-old public library to expand its services to meet the community's growing needs.

The library, after raising about $400,000 for initial groundwork, kicked off a capital campaign Saturday to seek donations to cover the remaining $1.5 million needed for the project.

“There's just a lot more demand for all of our wonderful services,” Michne said.

The library collected about $1.7 million through taxes for its 2023 budget, officials said.

The renovation plan doesn't include a physical expansion of the 12,000-square-foot building on Main Street in Bridgehampton, but rather a refurbishment of heavily used areas to offer more programs, the director said.

The library district’s population, which covers Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, has grown 75% during the last 15 years, based on the most recent U.S. Census data, Michne said.

Highlights of the plan include:

  • Refurbishing the children’s room,
  • Expanding the young adult room,
  • Doubling the size of the literacy room where English language classes, educational programs and meetings are held, and 
  • Expanding technology to accommodate assistive hearing capabilities, video conferencing, virtual reality and better internet speed.

Library trustee Eric Lemonides, 55, who co-owns the restaurant Almond across the street, has taken the role of fundraising campaign chairman. He envisions the library in its reconfigured form as having more of a “sense of warmth and a sense of home,” rather than just a place people check out books and leave.

“As I’ve been on the board, I’ve really come to realize more about what it is people need and want out of a library,” he said.

Fred Schmeltzer, 68, of Bridgehampton, served as chairman of the fundraising committee when the library underwent its last renovation more than 15 years ago and said the facility, which opened in 1877, is “integral” to the community.

The bonding the library did for that renovation was paid off by early 2019, according to Michne.

Southampton Town last year established the Bridgehampton Historic District along a stretch of Main Street that includes the library and the building was included as a “contributing resource.”

The building, a combination of Stick style and Queen Anne style architecture, opened with the largest collection of books east of Brooklyn, according to a report last year by the Southampton Town Historian’s Office.

The library partners with school districts on several programs, according to Mary Kelly, Bridgehampton school district superintendent. She said elementary school students recently completed a library card program and staff members work with them once a week as part of an after-school program.

“They’re a fabulous partner and provide tremendous support for our kids and families,” Kelly added.

Michne said the one-room Sagaponack School also uses Hampton Library as a resource.

The library official said she hopes the renovation can begin this year and it's undecided if the library's operations will be relocated during construction. Relocating would allow the project to be completed faster, she said, adding that she's “researching” possible sites.

Schmeltzer said the library has been like a “retreat” for him where he finds a “little nook” to read — mostly fiction — and escape the glow of his cellphone screen.

“It’s been invaluable to me and my life out here over the years,” he said.

Historic library

  • In 1877, Hampton Library opened in Bridgehampton.

  • In 1898, a second story was added.

  • About 15 years ago, the last renovation finished.
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