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Shirley library won't close for repairs

The Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library. (July 15, 2011)

The Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library. (July 15, 2011) Credit: John Dunn

After months of community outcry and protest, the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library’s board of trustees is completely dropping its original plans to temporarily close the facility for renovations.

“The original plan met with a lot of resistance, internally from the staff and externally from the community,” library director Kerri Rosalia said Monday.

The library announced this summer that it would close for 16 months to undergo an extensive $5-million renovation of its aging facility in Shirley. The plan was to take money from the $9 million operating budget to pay for the renovations, so that the local taxpayers would not have to foot the bill. Most of the library’s part-time staff would be laid off during the temporary closure, programs moved off-site and a small portion of the collection moved to a temporary location, the board had said.

But heated meetings with patrons and staff led the board to back off the plan’s Oct. 1 deadline, and now the temporary closure is not an option at all.

“There’s a building that needs to be updated. There’s a staff that won’t be sacrificed,” Rosalia said.

A new plan hasn’t been crafted, but with the upcoming holiday season, library officials said it was time to close the chapter on the original plan’s call for layoffs. “At some point it seems better to walk away from the plan and let people relax,” Rosalia said.

Board president Joe Maiorana said the library’s ad hoc renovation committee was still meeting regularly. The engineers and architect behind the original renovation plans will present further information on the most urgent repairs necessary by the end of the year, Rosalia said.

“It’s not about winning,” Maiorana said. “It’s about the long-term health of the institution.”


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