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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

'Great Blue Heron' by Chris Bazer
Photo artist Chris Bazer shares magical images of nature in latest exhibit at Emma Clark Library

By Melissa Arnold

Like all great photographers, Christopher Scott Bazer has an eye for beauty. But he also knows how to take a beautiful image to the next level with a little computer magic.

It’s what he calls photo-art, a unique blend of traditional photography and modern, digital effects. The result is vivid and ethereal.

A collection of Bazer’s favorite pieces is on display at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket for the month of August in an exhibit called Essence of Nature.

‘Butterfly en rose’

Bazer has been a shutterbug for almost his entire life, starting out with a little Brownie camera at just 5 years old while growing up in Queens. “My mother was very artistic and became a very good painter in her own right,” said Bazer, who now lives in Huntington. “Her brother, my uncle, also painted, so I think [the artistic talents] came down from that side of the family.”

While Bazer didn’t major in art, he did take a handful of art classes while working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Southampton College. During his time there, he had the chance to study under painter and filmmaker Larry Rivers.

After college, Bazer worked for a time as a salesman before settling into a successful 35-year career as a DJ. But his love for painting and photography never died. At one point, he was the brother-in-law of Richard Bernstein, an artist who ran in the same circles as Andy Warhol. “I learned so much from [Bernstein]. He ended up being one of my idols,” he said.

Now 70, Bazer has had more time to devote to his artwork. He’s done more than a dozen public exhibits in the last few years, mostly in libraries and village centers. He is one of many artists to benefit from the support of Princess Ronkonkoma Productions, an organization that helps the disabled and elderly find outlets to show their art.

Bazer said that he’s not much of a painter, but there are usually a few acrylic paintings in the mix at his exhibits. “My paintings are what you’d call folk art — they’re not meant to be taken as realistic,” he explained.

‘Shore wader’

As for photography, Bazer now uses an Olympus Stylus 1 to capture the world around him. It’s a natural part of his routine to bring the camera along whenever he’s headed out. His favorite subjects are wildlife and landscapes, especially beaches; and he enjoys taking photos of Coindre Hall’s boathouse on the Long Island Sound in Huntington.

As traditional photography evolved with the arrival of digital technology, Bazer was inspired by a whole new realm of possibilities.

“I just started playing around with the software that came with my camera and experimented with different effects and styles. What I’m able to do now is stuff that you were once only able to do in the darkroom, and it was hit or miss, and very expensive,” Bazer said. “What’s interesting is a lot of times I go out and take pictures and I’ll come home and look at what I have and not see anything good, but then I can work with it on the computer and end up with something really great.”

The Essence of Nature exhibit will feature 21 photos and paintings, all of which can be purchased as a low-number print. For information, contact Bazer directly at chrisbazer@yahoo.com or CSBazer Art on Facebook.

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is located at 120 Main Street, Setauket. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 631-941-4080 or visit www.emmaclark.org.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, center, with the winners, from left, Cassidy Oliver, Eliana Sasson, Katie Zhao and Nicole Freeley. Photo from Emma Clark Library

On April 27, Emma Clark Library, the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, local elected officials, representatives from the Three Village Central School district and guests from the community gathered to honor the winners of the third annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award.

First Prize Winner Eliana Sasson (grades 7 – 9 category) accepting her check from Karen Shack Reid. Photo from Emma Clark Library

Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of Helen Stein Shack, presented all of the winners’ books — bound and added to the library’s Local Focus Collection — along with $400 scholarships to first-prize winners Eliana Sasson (“We Can Still Be Friends!”) and Katie Zhao (“Claire and Her Bear”)and $100 check for second-prize winners Nicole Freeley (“Sammy the Sock Monkey”) and Cassidy Oliver (“Color Your World”).

Karen Shack Reid, daughter of the late Helen Stein Shack, explained how the endowment was started. “My brother had suggested we needed to do something in Mommy’s memory … we threw around some suggestions, kind of talked about it, reached out to my nieces and my nephews … got a lot of great ideas. That’s how supportive this family is. My oldest nephew, my sister’s son, is a librarian, and he said, ‘Why don’t we do something at Emma S. Clark Library that Zafta — that’s grandma in Hebrew — loves so much? … that just fit.”

First Prize Winner Katie Zhao (grades 10 – 12 category) accepting her check from Karen Shack Reid. Photo from Emma Clark Library

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) spoke at the event, and the winners also received certificates from Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport), Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station). Library Board President Linda Josephs, along with Trustees Deborah Blair and Richard Russell, were there to congratulate the winners and Three Village Central School District President of the Board of Education William Connors, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Kevin Scanlon, Ward Melville High School Librarian April Hatcher and Gelinas Junior High School Librarian Nicole Connelly were all in attendance.

The Book Contest called for teens in grades 7 through 12 who live in the Three Village Central School District to create a children’s picture book. Each entry could be the work of a single author/illustrator or a collaborative effort of an author and an illustrator. The contest was divided into two grade categories, grades 7 through 9 and grades 10 through 12, with one first-prize winner and one second-prize winner selected from each group. This award is given in memory of Helen Stein Shack by her family.

Englebright remarked to the winners, “It was an extraordinary level of creativity that you brought to this, and you will continue to show that as you develop your own adult lives and careers, which is part of the genius of this family’s gift: to make an investment into young people like this.”

Contest, in its third year, part of endowment by children in memory of their mother

Ed Taylor, Sherry Cleary and Karen Reid review entries for the contest honoring their mother Helen Stein Shack at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. Photo by Donna Newman

By Donna Newman

When Helen Stein Shack passed away three years ago, her children wanted to celebrate their mother’s life with a legacy she’d have loved. Where to do it was an easy decision because Shack was both a bibliophile and a big fan of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket.

Library Director Ted Gutmann recalled how Shack’s children approached him to establish an endowment that would support an annual event in her memory each April. They only needed to decide what the event would be.

“They wanted to do something at the library specifically dealing with children and literature created expressly for young readers,” Gutmann said.  “Librarian Nanette Feder had a group of teenagers working with younger children. We asked the teens if they’d like to try writing picture books. We created a contest, established rules, and offered a cash prize. The first year we promoted the contest through social media, the library website, department chairs and school librarians. Now it’s taken on a life of its own.”

Contest winners with the Shack family and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright. Ed Taylor, Karen Shack Reid, Cartright, Michelle Pacala, Samantha White, Katie Zhao, Sherry Cleary and Nicole Freeley. Photo from the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

In an interview with three of Shack’s four children, as they gathered at the library Feb. 4 to review the entries, daughter Sherry Cleary explained their thinking.

“The inspiration for this library thing was that she really loved the process of children learning to read — and she loved this library,” she said. “It was our first choice to memorialize and honor her because when people would visit her, she would say, ‘Want to see my library? Let’s go see my library.’ She would bring people here, which is a little weird. It would make me laugh.”

All four children agreed that the library was the appropriate spot for Shack’s lasting legacy.

And now, the library is pleased to announce this year’s prize winners in the 3rd Annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Awards — a contest showcasing writing and illustration talent in Three Village secondary schools.

Each year students in grades 7 through 12 are invited to submit an original children’s picture book created by a single person or an author/illustrator team. There are two judging categories: Grades 7 to 9 and Grades 10 to 12. There is a first and second place winner in each category.

First Prize (Grades 7 to 9) goes to Eliana Sasson, an eighth-grader, for “We Can Still Be Friends,” which teaches children to embrace and celebrate differences. Second Prize is awarded to Nicole Freeley, a ninth-grader for “Sammy the Sock Monkey.” They are both students at P. J. Gelinas junior high.

First Prize (Grades 10 to 12) goes to Ward Melville high school sophomore Katie Zhao for “Claire and Her Bear,” about a young girl whose beloved teddy bear goes missing and the emotions she experiences when this happens. Second Prize is awarded to Cassidy Oliver, also a Ward Melville sophomore, for “Color Your World.”

“I think she  had this drive to do things differently. The way she grandparented — and her roots in education — inspired us to [create] these awards.”

—Sherry Cleary

Shack was an intelligent and courageous woman. After graduating from Brooklyn College in the early 1950s, she obtained an elementary school teaching job in California, and boarded a train heading west, alone.

“At that time, it was an extraordinarily brave thing to do,” said Cleary. “People got married and stayed in Brooklyn. I think she  had this drive to do things differently. The way she grandparented — and her roots in education — inspired us to [create] these awards.”

Cleary went on to describe the connection Shack made with her son, the first grandchild.

“I had the first grandchild,” she said, “but we were very far away. She didn’t see him often. She would tape her voice reading a children’s book and then send the tape and the book to him. So, he would sit in a big blue chair in our living room and listen intently to the tape and turn the pages when she made the noise [that signaled to do that]. He had connection to her in that way — and later, he became a librarian.”

Eventually, Shack had seven grandchildren.

Knowing how important children’s literature was to their mother, the family wanted their event to incorporate it in some way. Although Shack did not return to classroom teaching after remarrying and having two more daughters, when the girls were grown Shack tutored kids in the public schools. Her focus was on giving them access to literature. More than just teaching reading, she gave them access to books.

“And what you can get from books,” added daughter Karen Reid, “all the information. All questions get answered in books. And if you don’t have questions — read a book — because then you’ll have questions. [Our mother] was a big questioner and always wanted us to seek information in books. She thought it was wonderful that authors could write information in a way that kids would want to read it.” That impressed her.

Shack’s only son, Ed Taylor, said he didn’t think there was anything spectacular about his mother.

Helen Shack, second from left, with her children at Karen Reid’s 2011 wedding. Photo from Shack family

“She was just a loving person,” he said, “loved her family, her kids and her grandchildren, nephews and nieces. She always stressed education, always stressed reading. I don’t know if she was much different from other moms, but she was ours. She was special to us; but I think everyone’s mother is special to them. The best compliment I could give her:  she was a good mother.”

Cleary talked about a third daughter, Barbara Kelly, who has three children. The kids would come for two weeks in the summer to visit their ‘savta’ (Hebrew for grandmother).

“They’d come in the house and unload all their stuff and she’d say, ‘Did you bring books?’ and they’d look at her and say, ‘No, we didn’t bring books all the way from California,’” Cleary said. “And she’d say, ‘Let’s go to the library.’ She’d bring them to the library to get books. As the children got older, on their way to visit they’d ask each other, ‘How long do you think it’ll be till we go to the library?’”

Shack fostered the notion that you should never be without a book. Unsurprisingly, her progeny are all readers. “The irony is, because she was so connected to the library, she did not have a lot of books in the house,” said Cleary, “which used to drive me crazy. She’d say, ‘I don’t buy books. I go to the library.’”

Winning authors will be recognized at a private awards ceremony at the library, Thursday, April 27 at 7 p.m. Each First Prize winner receives a $400 scholarship; each Second Prize winner receives a $100 scholarship. Bound copies of all the winning entries will be presented and added to the library’s Local Focus collection. All contest entrants receive certificates of participation. Light refreshments will be served, donated by The Bite Size Bake Shop, a local Three Village business.

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, is located at 120 Main Street in Setauket and provides public library service to all residents of the Three Village Central School District.

A blue jay enjoys a bird bath in Jay Gammill’s Setauket backyard. Photo by Jay Gammill

By Ernestine Franco

 

A trio of Snowy Egrets feeding. Photo by Jay Gammill

A hobby often starts merely by chance. A dad gives his young son a camera for his birthday. The son takes a few photos and has a good time. As he gets older, it becomes a passion. Then, after he retires, it becomes part of his soul and guides his vision of the world.

I am describing Jay Gammill of East Setauket who started taking pictures after his father gave him his first camera, a Brownie Starflash, and today uses a digital camera that has letters and numbers in its name as well as lots of lenses.

To call Gammill an amateur photographer does not do his photographs justice. To experience his exquisite vision, check out his first solo exhibit, “The Birds Among Us,” at the Emma S. Clark Library in Setauket throughout the month of March featuring 20 stunning images of birds taken in Canada, Maine, upstate New York and in Gammill’s own backyard over the last three years.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to Gammill about his exhibit and hobby.

How did you get into photography?

My father had the most influence on my picking up a camera. He worked for a photographic company prior to World War II and was a Navy mapping photographer during the war in the North Atlantic. Dad always had either a still or an 8mm movie camera in his hand.

Why do you photograph birds?

Many beautiful birds visit our feeders in East Setauket, and I wanted to capture some nice photographs of our feathered friends.

What else do you like to photograph?

On vacations or when visiting local areas I really enjoy photographing the interior and exterior of mansions, castles, homes and all landscapes.

A Great Egret takes flight at Nissequogue River State Park in Kings Park. Photo by Jay Gammill

What kinds of cameras/lenses do you use to capture these stunning images?

Seventeen years ago I started with a 5-megapixel Sony, then I used a 12-megapixel Lumix bridge camera, and now I have a 26-megapixel Nikon D610 and have plans to upgrade yet again to a more professional Nikon camera. I have several lenses for the Nikon D610. In the field I use a 200-500mm lens primarily for birding and sometimes attach a 1.4 extender, increasing the focal length to 700mm. This gives me a lot of flexibility depending on the subject’s location being near or far. I also have 20mm, 50mm, 300mm and a 28-300mm lenses. The wide-angle 20mm lens (probably my favorite) can be used for landscape photography or indoors without a flash and produces excellent photos. The 50mm lens is very sharp and great for outdoor get-togethers. The 300mm lens with an extender is great for birding and the 28-300mm lens is excellent for all-around exploring.

Your photos show that you have an artist’s eye. How does your vision affect how you frame your photos and the subjects you choose?

A lot depends on the lighting. Having good light provides a variety of angles and shadows that can add interest to a photograph plus excellent detail within the photo. When looking at a subject, I try to envision how it will appear on my monitor and whether it will provide the same interest it provides me to others on social media.

You’ve described your wife Jan as your ‘spotter.’ Can you elaborate on that?

Jan has become an integral part of my bird photography. After she started coming out with me, it was evident she could pick out birds in trees faster than I could by myself. Now we enjoy finding birds together but also the exercise. It is not uncommon for her to say “take that shot” and that has proven to be very beneficial to my work.

This is your first solo exhibit. Have you enjoyed getting ready for it?

The answer is yes! I’m happy I started early on choosing my photographs and getting them printed. Visiting the library to view the exhibit location also helped. I am also working on some presentation work that will identify the subject in each photo.

How did you decide which photos to include in the exhibit?

Detail, pose and subject expression had the most influence on which photos were chosen. Some of the birds’ eyes just speak to you when you see them. You know what they are thinking.

What are your favorite photos in the exhibit?

I guess it would be the Red-tailed Hawk and the Atlantic Puffin. A part of getting the photos ready for the exhibit is framing them.

Can you talk a little about the different materials you used to do this?

There are many ways to display photos these days. I have chosen three different types for the exhibit. Some are mounted in the classic frame style. One is under ¼-inch clear acrylic with polished edges. This is a fairly expensive way to present a photograph, but it gives the photo a very unique appearance. The third method is having the photos printed on aluminum. You can have a very large picture and it will not weigh a lot, making it easy to hang, and it makes the colors really pop.

A Great Egret. Photo by Jay Gammill

Where else have you exhibited?

I was very pleased when the Huntington Arts Council accepted two of my bird photos to be displayed in its gallery for a month last year. Another photo, of the original Fire Island Lighthouse beacon, was accepted in last year’s 100th anniversary Parks Department photo exhibit held within the lighthouse keeper’s home for a month. Two bird and two landscape photos were displayed for a month last year at the 2nd Ave. Bayshore Firehouse exhibit gallery for the Long Island Triumph Association’s art show.

Any advice for others who want to have their photos seen by others?

Post your photos on social media for a lot of exposure and to get a feel for others’ reactions to your work. I have been posting on Facebook for years now, and it has given me a good indication of what people like.

Where can our readers see other examples of your work?

I have set up my own website, www.jayjaysvisions.com, to show others my bird, wildlife and landscape photography.

“The Birds Among Us” will be on view at the Emma S. Clark Library, located at 120 Main Street in Setauket, through the month of March. For more information, please call 631-941-4080.

Parade will begin on Main Street in Setauket near the Emma S. Clark Library and elementary school

An electric float in 2014 carries parade participants. Photo from Cheryl Davie

After a one-year hiatus, a long-running holiday tradition is returning to Setauket.

It was ‘lights out’ for the Electric Holiday Parade last December, when a couple of glitches prevented the popular event from taking place. Cheryl Davie, longtime organizer of the event, which has been around for two decades, said there were budgetary cutbacks at the town level and a permit deadline was missed.

Billy Williams, a civic-minded local businessman and a member of the Setauket Fire Department, Three Village Kiwanis and the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said he heard of the issues last November — just not soon enough.

“I remember moving to the area in the late ’90s and bringing my kids to the parade,” he said in an email. “I thought it was a great hometown experience. I was saddened when I heard it wasn’t happening last year.” But by the time he found out, he said, it was too late to make it happen. So he decided to pick up the pieces and planned to resurrect the parade this year.

Davie immediately offered her assistance and expertise and the two became a team. Williams joked he is the producer and Davie is the director. She’s in charge of “the script” and running the show. He’s responsible for making sure the funding comes through.

“I have put together a team of small businesses and individuals who wanted to produce a great parade,” Williams said. “We have about 20 sponsors that have generously donated to offset the cost of producing the parade. State Farm [Williams’ business], Shea & Sanders Real Estate, Four D Landscaping and Shine Dance Studios are the major sponsors — with many others contributing as well. Each has made donations of money, time and/or other needed goods and services for the event.”

Lights will blaze again when the parade kicks off Sunday, Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. There will be floats and marchers, lights and music, decorated conveyances of all kinds, entertainment, hot chocolate and cookies — not to mention the arrival of Santa Claus on the Setauket Fire Department float — according to Davie.

“We have a lot of floats signed up,” Williams said. “Thirty-five have registered so far. We are also hiring a professional marching band to perform as well as providing many other great attractions for the kids. We have Wolfie from Stony Brook University attending, as well as the SBU pep squad.”

Williams said the Three Village school district will also be well represented. Many of the elementary schools are building floats — at all grade levels — which is a change from previous years when only sixth-graders were invited to create floats. The Ward Melville Jazz Band will also perform.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies, dance academies, preschools and local businesses have registered online to participate in the parade of lights. Registration will remain open until Dec. 10.

“The more, the merrier,” said Davie, referring to participants and spectators alike.

No article about the Electric Holiday Parade would be complete without a shout out to one of the original founders and supporters. Michael Ardolino was a member of the small group that established the parade 21 years ago. Today he is very happy and proud.

“I’m so excited the parade is back,” Ardolino said in a telephone interview. “I’m so proud it’s going to continue. So pleased with the new group that has stepped up to create this year’s parade. I’m looking forward to coming and enjoying it with my granddaughter. The tradition continues.”

For more information about the parade — or if you’d like to sign up — visit www.3vholidayparade.com. Staging for the parade will begin at 3:30 p.m. along Main Street in Setauket near the Emma S. Clark Library and the Setauket Elementary School. Kick-off is at 5 p.m. sharp.

The Philip Groia Memorial Global Studies Collection on display at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

By Susan Risoli

A teacher can change lives. With a $50,000 bequest to Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, former teacher Philip Groia funded a permanent global studies collection. Those who remember Groia, who died in 2014 at age 73, will appreciate the fact that his gift will enrich lives for years to come.

Groia taught social studies and global studies to ninth-graders at Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School and was advisor to the student government. He was “an internationalist,” agreed retired fellow teachers and friends John Deus and Judy Albano in a recent interview. He had an abiding curiosity about people and their lives, they said.

Groia never married and had no children, but he thought of his students as his kids and “they adored him,” said Deus. “He was a ‘kids first’ kind of teacher.”

Albano said relating with his students was one of Groia’s strengths, “[He was] ‘Mr. Cool.’ He was very relaxed with the kids, very easy with them.”

Former student Amy Cohas remembered being taken aback on the first day of social studies class, when she found her teacher sitting in the back of the classroom instead of in the customary spot up front. For Groia, it was just another way to connect with kids.

“He was really unusual,” Cohas said in a phone interview. “He had a lot of authority, but he was low-key and funny and affectionate.”

Former Three Village teacher Philip Groia funded a Global Studies collection at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. Photo from Tony Calleja.
Former Three Village teacher Philip Groia funded a Global Studies collection at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. Photo from Tony Calleja

Groia called his tests “practical everyday applications,” Cohas recalled, and he delivered them verbally to encourage students to think about the material.

His own worldwide travels were often part of class discussions.

“He was trying to expose us to a wider world,” Cohas said. “It raised our expectations as to what teachers could be.”

The bond between students and their teacher was especially strong, Cohas said, the day some kids baked Groia a birthday cake and brought it to school.

“I remember he looked up as he was slicing the cake and said, ‘I don’t want this to go to your heads, but I really love you guys,’” she recalled.

Groia sent his students to Emma Clark to work on their school assignments, and did his own research there too. He had a special interest in early rhythm and blues music, especially the street corner groups that filled 1950s and ‘60s New York City with their vocal harmonies.

His book on the topic, “They All Sang on the Corner,” is part of the library’s holdings. Still, said library director Ted Gutmann, it came as a surprise that Groia’s will provided for Emma Clark.

“I think I did a little bit of a double take, when I saw the figure of $50,000,” Gutmann said. Though Groia’s gift is the first bequest to Emma Clark in Gutmann’s tenure as director, there have been other benefactors in the library’s 125-year history, he said.

The Philip Groia Memorial Global Studies Collection was started last year and includes 100 items on current events and cultures throughout the world.

“Right now it’s basically books,” Gutmann said. “But there are really no strings attached to the gift.” Eventually it may include DVDs or other media.

Gutmann said having a well-curated global studies collection available for all is important to keep people informed, “Especially because so much of what’s happening now is, people group together with their own political beliefs and they don’t listen to what the other side is saying,” he said.

Emma Clark is a natural home for learning about people, their cultures and their governments, Gutmann continued, because “a library is one of the few places these days, it seems, where you can still come and get information without a bias.”

Tony Calleja was a friend.

“He came from a strict household,” Calleja said of his friend. “They expected him to be something different than what he felt. But he was his own man and went through life his own way.”

Caroline Woo, above, plays with therapy dog Beau. She named her black Labrador stuffed animal after her regular reading companion, Malibu. Photo by Giselle Barkley

A book and a calm canine companion are all Caroline Woo needs to practice reading.

Every Thursday afternoon, this 11-year-old from Setauket visits the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library for its Books Are Read to K-9s program. Caroline joined the program and fell in love with it last November, after her mother, Eydie Woo, learned of the club. But BARK didn’t just allow her to interact with a calm canine, it also improved her reading skills.

Last month for her birthday, Caroline asked her friends and family to make a donation to the program instead of buying presents. The $270 she received went toward training more dogs for the club and other therapy dog-related programs. For Caroline, reading to Patchogue Rotary Animal Assisted Therapy certified dog Malibu, a black Labrador, helped her tackle the big words she struggled to say when reading out loud.

“Malibu, she’ll … just sit down and they’ll kind of listen and it is better because the dogs, they mostly maintain one expression,” Caroline said. “It’s easier since she’s less judgmental than people”

According to Malibu’s handler and owner Fred Dietrich, the program hasn’t only helped her reading skills, but it’s also boosted her confidence. He added that he’s seen Caroline become more outspoken since she joined BARK.

Her mother agreed with Dietrich, saying Caroline “feels comfortable with Malibu and it’s translating into other settings.” The fifth-grader met Malibu when she started the program and they’ve been regular reading partners since. Malibu, like all eight dogs involved in the reading program, is PRAAT certified.

Stony Brook resident Jo-Ann Goldwasser established the Doggie Reading Club program, which is called BARK at the library, three years ago after learning about a similar program in Chicago. The Windy City’s Sit Stay Read program has served kids in Chicago’s inner-city schools for several years. Goldwasser wanted to help children overcome their reading difficulties with this program. Her club started with Rocky Point Middle School’s sixth-grade students and has expanded to the Comsewogue school district, two schools in Brentwood as well as the library. She plans to establish the program in Hauppauge school district.

Goldwasser said the school and library programs are somewhat different.

“Children who generally like to read, who go to the library, think it’s kind of a fun thing to come to the library and read to a dog,” Goldwasser said. “In the schools however, we go into … the same classes … every other week. It’s more academic in that we listen to the same children read week after week; we know what they’re reading [and] we know how to help them.”

Fellow therapy dog handler Linda Devin-Sheehan said it’s hard to track the program’s success in the library because the club is only three-years-old. A lack of regulars like Caroline also makes it difficult to monitor a student’s improvement.

Parents must register their children to participate in the library’s program, which is held every Wednesday and Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the library’s kids’ section.

According to the handlers, a dog’s patience and calm demeanor are helpful to students like Caroline. While the program has helped Caroline in the past few months, she simply enjoys being around dogs as they come in various shapes, sizes and dispositions.

“You can see [a dog] on the street and pet it and get to know it for a short minute but … you can already tell that they’re such a sweet dog and it’s nice getting to meet a ton of different dogs,” Caroline said.

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File photo by Michael Ruiz

Let creativity shine at Emma Clark Library’s first ever Bookmark Contest.

The challenge — open to all children living in the Three Village Central School District in grades kindergarten through sixth — is to create an original bookmark.  The winning entries will be printed and distributed at the library throughout the year. Winners may see their artwork in the hands of their friends, and they can be proud that their creations encourage Three Villagers to read.

To pick up an official entry form and bookmark template, kids may stop by the Children’s Reference Desk or download the form at www.kids.emmaclark.org.  The entry deadline is March 31.

Winners will be chosen in three categories — K to second grade, third and fourth and fifth and sixth grades — and announced on May 2 to kick off Children’s Book Week, a national annual celebration and the longest running national literacy initiative in the country, first established in 1919.  Join the contest and be a part of a nationwide celebration of reading.

If you have any questions, please email kids@emmaclark.org or call 631-941-4080, ext. 123. The library is located at 120 Main Street, Setauket.

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File photo by Michael Ruiz

Setauket’s own Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is making strides to save money just in time for budget season.

The library announced this week it would be migrating its catalog system to be part of the Partnership of Automated Libraries in Suffolk, which runs library services with 49 other libraries across the county. The shared product, according to library Director Ted Gutmann, should increase efficiency and ease of use for both patrons and library employees while also saving money.

“The cost of ongoing maintenance is going to be shared across 50 libraries,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense for us to join this network.”

A spokeswoman for the library said patrons will now be able to create their own usernames rather than remembering long library card barcode numbers and will also have the option to pay fines online and receive text alerts.

“It will be much faster to borrow items from other Suffolk County libraries,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “In just one click, the request is automatically put into other libraries, without the patron having to specifically request an interlibrary loan. The item is then delivered to Emma Clark Library for pickup or can be delivered to other Suffolk libraries as well.”

The cost-saving move comes just in time for the Sept. 16 budget vote at the library, which projected a 0.30 percent change in the tax levy from $5,177,684 last year to $5,192,968 this year. The proposed 2016 library budget saw an increase in employee salary expenditures and material and program expenditures, but a slight decline in costs related to mandated benefits, building and operations funding and estimated income.

Voting on the 2016 library budget is scheduled for Sept. 16 at the library from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the periodical room.

The new system is also more cost effective, both up front and ongoing, the spokeswoman said. The move to PALS should result in an annual 61 percent savings for the library catalog operation costs and will help the library in complying with the New York State tax freeze program. Under the tax freeze program, New York State requires shared services in order to reduce costs and save money — under the tax relief program, if the library complies with the tax cap and shows cost savings through shared resources, qualifying homeowners are reimbursed for increases in their local property taxes on their primary residences.

It is also important to note that during this migration, from Sept. 16 to Nov. 2, patrons will not be able to use the online catalog to request interlibrary loans. They will, however, be able to pick up books themselves at other libraries or they may contact our reference librarians who can place requests on the patron’s behalf. Starting in early November, when the new system is live online, interlibrary loan requests will resume. The library appreciates the understanding of the community — this small inconvenience while the catalog is under transition will lead to more improved services by November.

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File photo by Michael Ruiz

The Emma Clark Library, located on Main Street in Setauket, is pleased to announce new video game collections for both the Children’s and Teen departments. Games for teens are coming in August, and the children’s games will be available this fall.

Video and computer game playing, when practiced in moderation, has many benefits. While kids are gaming, they are also learning how to collaborate in a team, strategize, explore, make decisions and take risks. The games help kids prepare for today’s fast-paced digital world. Video games can be fun and motivating, and along with books and traditional games, they are another method of educating our youth in the 21st century.

The library has ordered games for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox360, and Xbox One and will include popular titles such as “Splatoon,” “Just Dance 2015,” “Little Big Planet 3,” “Lego Jurassic World” and “Batman: Arkham Asylum.” Like movies, video games will circulate for one week and may be renewed as long as no one else has reserved the game. Patrons may also recommend games for the library to purchase; the library will be accepting suggestions for games rated T or lower.

The library also holds special “Minecraft,” Xbox, and Wii U programs throughout the year for both kids and teens in the Technology Center. All programs may be found in the printed newsletter or online at www.emmaclark.org/newsletters.

If you have any questions about the new video game collections, you may contact kids@emmaclark.org or teens@emmaclark.org.

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