Good News & Bad At The Library

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New director Kathy Giotas

It’s kind of a “good news, bad news” scenario for the Great Neck Library as it looks ahead toward a strengthened staff administration and delays in the completion of the renovation and eventual reopening of the main branch.

Kathy Giotsas, the library’s new director, officially began her term this past Monday with Christine Johnson, who served as interim director since January, after Laura Weir retired from that position, staying on as interim assistant director.

Giotsas, formerly a director in West Haven, CT, has been actively working with Johnson in recent weeks to become acclimated to her new role. Great Neck hasn’t had a permanent director since December of 2012.

“We have developed a very good relationship,” said the incoming Giotsas, who spent the last few weeks finishing up her West Haven responsibilities and, at the same time, working with Johnson and attending meetings here.

“I like to jump into things,” she
said of the absence of any time off between ending her West Haven job and beginning in Great Neck. “I like
a challenge.”

Giotsas and Johnson were present at last week’s Building Advisory Committee (BAC) when it was learned that Calgi Construction Management, the lead contractor
on the main branch renovation,
was estimating that the target date for completion would be in late
May of 2016.

Barring any more unforeseen delays and allowing for time needed to move materials back into the building and making preparations to receive the public, it looks like early summer of 2016 should be the grand opening date.

When the main branch was closed to the public at the end of October it was estimated that it would be closed for about a year, but that was before problems arose with asbestos containment and obtaining the necessary permits.

Actual construction work only began just after Memorial Day.

Discovery and removal of more than anticipated asbestos plus additional fire alarm and sprinkler system demands made by the Nassau County’s Fire Marshal have actually added almost $500,000 to the $10 million project.

Additional costs will be covered by the library’s building reserve fund and will not be part of the voter-approved bond issue.

Board President Marietta DiCamillo, who chaired the BAC meeting, was encouraged by the large committee turnout and participation. She praised several members who asked Calgi President Dominic Calgi probing technical and procedural questions.

“Don Dillon (an architect), Les Kahn (an engineer) and Mike Currie (an engineer) are great,” she said, in praising their help and guidance. “They’re construction professionals. They understand all of the intricacies.”

DiCamillo was also upbeat about the new team formed by Giotsas and Johnson. She was particularly appreciative of Johnson’s work.

“She got us through a very difficult time,” the president said of Johnson, who has been with the library since 2001. “She rose to every single situation and handled each one perfectly. We’re delighted she is taking the interim assistant position again and we look forward to a wonderful management team.”

“I really think that Chris has done a really great job,” said Giotsas. “I’m taking over something that has been well taken care of.”

“I smile every time Kathy steps into the room,” said Johnson in accepting the compliment. “I know I’m handing off the ‘project’ to someone who’s very qualified and that I can continue to support.”

“There’s a lot of work to be done but I think we have a great staff and we have a great board,” Giotsas said in voicing her impressions so far. “They’re really looking out for the community. They take their time in thinking things through. They want to make sure that they’re meeting the needs of the community.

“Everyone here wants to do a great job, whether they’re staff, on the board or a volunteer,” she added.

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