"This is just, 'tell us what you think you can do.' We don’t want to put something out there that fails to respect what the community wants," library director Matthew Bollerman said in an interview with Patch. "We’re still collecting and evaluating that information. We wanted to get as many people to respond to the question as possible."
Leading up to this point, the library held a series of public meetings to gauge people's interest in the process. According to its website, the 11-year-old Hauppauge Public Library leases its present space at 601 Veterans Memorial Highway at a rate of close to $400,000 per year, which is set to rise approximately $15,000 per year. Bollerman said there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm among patrons for supporting a new home for the library at Hidden Pond Park, where the Board of Trustees has purchased a one-acre parcel of land, which would save residents money in the long run.
Current library taxes are between $300 and $500 per year for its patrons, who reside within the Town of Islip portion of Hauppauge. The goal, Bollerman said, would be to develop a budget with the help of the public, put it up for a bond referendum – and then stick to that budget firmly to build a new building.
So far, Bollerman said, members of the public and library officials have collectively spent 1,600 hours together working on the process, which he said is designed to be as transparent and collaborative as possible.
At meetings in June and July, the group developed a purpose statement as follows:
"To build Hauppauge's permanent community library as a safe environment for all, in a way that embraces intergenerational collaboration to develop community priorities that use resources creatively, regenerate ecological health, and celebrate diversity, so that the project inspires personal and professional growth and fulfillment, generates continuous community participation, and enhances the qualify of life in the park, Hauppauge, and the world indefinitely.
The group then developed "touchstones," or ideal features and goals that a new building could have. Among the touchstones: a strong connection to the parklike outdoor setting; flexible functionality and energy efficiency; a cultural and artistic hub; staying within the to-be-determined budget; and more.
Residents still have the chance to weigh in on what they'd like to see by answering the question "What do you want in our new permanent home?" on a physical posterboard on one wall in the library.
Presently, the library's design team is developing concepts for the physical building based on the feedback it has received from the residents. Once a design has been developed, plans can be submitted to the town and county for environmental review, and a bond vote can be held.
"I think the whole [process] is unique," Bollerman said. "I'm just happy that people are taking advantage of it. It's not often that people have the chance to voice what they would like to see in a public building."
Of the 10,900 area residents it serves, the Hauppauge Public Library has about 7,400 cardholders, with more than 150,000 visits and a circulation of 186,762 during the 2012-2013 year.