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Riverwalk opening marks progress in library’s transformation project

A sign reading "Riverwalk level now open!" sits outside the back entrance to the library.

The Riverwalk level of the Westport Public Library is now completed and was opened to the public on June 4. The Riverwalk is part of phase one of the library’s transformation project that will take place over the course of a year.

According to Rachel Pegnataro, director of Marketing and Communications at the Westport Public Library, it was important for the renovated space to have large, open windows to capture the light and views of the river.

“I love [the riverwalk], it’s really beautiful,” Tomaso Scotti ’20 said.

The red carpet used in the front entrance to the Riverwalk level to, according to Pegnataro, makes visitors feel they are being treated as they deserve.

As the library begins phase two of the project, the upper levels of the space have been closed. To compensate, the Riverwalk level has become the temporary library, hosting a multitude of books, a children’s section, a cafe, seating areas, a programming room and other amenities welcome to all civilians. According to the library’s official Transformation Project website, “the Riverwalk provides intimate and spectacular views for people to read, study and do research.”

A Café offering salads, sandwiches and snacks sits in the back of the Riverwalk level. Once renovations are done a larger outdoor café will be set up in the back entrance of the library offering similar types of food.

In the children's sections, an abundance of films including Toy Story and Spiderman are made available to visitors.

A conference room, which will divide into two conference rooms later on, is offered for studying, business meetings etc.

The children's section includes games, films, books and a space for kids to read, draw and play.

Also inside the children's sections, are multiple computers and work spaces open to everyone.

For many Westporters, the opening of the Riverwalk has been a hit. “The dark, poorly laid out Riverwalk level has been completely redesigned. It’s light, airy, dynamic and interactive,” Dan Woog, of blog 06880, said in an article previewing the opening. “Inside and out work together, inviting everyone to explore, relax, work together or alone, or simply enjoy the river and trees.”

Pictured is the path outside of the riverwalk level which will be home to a ping pong table later on in the year— A noteworthy part of the construction is that the stones are meant to look like book spines.

On the other hand, some believe the renovations have made a significant inconvenience.

“I love how the library has this whole new glammed out idea of how the library will look like but now there’s limited space to study in until then,” Grace Trzeciak ’19 said. “It’s not ideal now but hopefully it’ll make up for it once everything is finished.”

All the adult, teen and children's books and films have been moved temporarily to the Riverwalk level as renovations to the upper levels are made.

So far, the Library has raised 88% of the funds needed to finish the renovation project. The library most recently accepted a check for $5,000 from the Gatsby’s Return event at Pearl at Longshore Restaurant in May.

Similarly to making the stones look like book spines, the library also crafted the exterior of the exterior Riverwalk level to resemble book shelves.

For more information on the project check out the official transformation website.

On the sign leading to the Riverwalk level, one side says west and points west, while the other side says port and points towards the Saugatuck river.

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