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Ted Gutmann

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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library recently received a grant to reimburse the cost of adding LED fixtures and bulbs in its building. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

In the days of Kindle, one senator recognizes libraries still play a major part in communities.

Recently, state Sen. John Flanagan (R) announced that four libraries in his district, including Setauket’s Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, would be receiving state funding to offset the cost of construction projects.

“Public libraries are more than books — they are community centers that provide valuable programs and services,” Flanagan said in a statement. “They are a proven resource for residents of all ages and we need to continue to work with the leaders of these facilities to provide them with the funding they need to fulfill their mission.”

The construction grants, which were allocated in the 2017–18 state budget for public library construction and broadband infrastructure projects, total $209,638, and are administered by the New York State Education Department and the New York State Library, according to a statement from Flanagan’s office.

Emma Clark Library received $9,638 for the installation of energy-efficient LED fixtures and bulbs. Ted Gutmann, library director, said the LED project is already complete, and the grant is a reimbursement for the project cost.

“This is win-win for our patrons who won’t have to directly fund the project, and at the same time will get a more efficient library that will help save them money for years to come,” Gutmann said. “Senator Flanagan’s efforts in supporting libraries are much appreciated, and on behalf of the board of trustees and myself, thanks again for being a friend of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library.”

The Legislature approved an additional $34 million in funding for projects as part of the 2018–19 state budget. The approved projects for that funding will be announced in the summer of 2019, according to the statement.

From left, Eliana Sasson, Nicole Freeley, Rebecca Blumenthal, Samuel Kim

On Monday evening, April 23, 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 fourth annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award.

At the ceremony in the Vincent R. O’Leary Community Room, Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of Helen Stein Shack, presented all of the winners a bound copy of their book. In addition, the books will be added to the library’s Local Focus Collection.

 A $400 scholarship was awarded to first-prize winner Rebecca Blumenthal of R.C. Murphy Jr. High School for her children’s book, “Racing Star,” and Ward Melville High School student Nicole Freeley for her book titled “Wally’s Wild Ride.” 

A $100 check for second prize was awarded to P.J. Gelinas Jr. High School student Eliana Sasson for her book “This Is How I Can Help! 10 Ways I Can Help My Community!” and Ward Melville High School student Samuel Kim for his informative children’s book, “Freddy the Fish and His First Election Day.” 

Gutmann explained that the event “really helps us to showcase the wonderful talent we have here, and we thank the authors and their parents for encouraging that and being here tonight.”

Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), and Carol Nucci [representing Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport)] spoke at the event, and the winners also received certificates from Flanagan, Hahn and Cartright.  

Library Board Treasurer Deborah Blair and Trustee Richard Russell were there to congratulate the winners and Three Village school district BOE President William Connors, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Scanlon, Ward Melville High School Principal Alan Baum, Ward Melville High School Librarian April Hatcher, Murphy Jr. High School English Department Chair Cathy Duffy and Murphy Jr. High School Librarian Betsy Knox were all in attendance.

The Helen Stein Shack Picture 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 award is given in memory of Helen Stein Shack by her family.  

“As Ms. Shack clearly knew, children’s literature does a lot for the community, as well as the young children themselves. It helps to promote brain development, it helps to promote language development, literacy skills, as well as creating an important bonding moment for families,” said Cartright.

Two of the grandsons of the late Helen Stein Shack also spoke at the ceremony. Regan Kelly flew all the way from California for the event. Tamir Taylor grew up in Three Village and attended Murphy Jr. High School and Ward Melville High School.  

“A lot of people thank us a lot for creating this event,” mentioned Taylor. “But we really want to thank you guys because our grandmother, mother, was really important to us and by you guys participating and making this event happen and the library for making this happen, you guys give us the opportunity to remember and honor her, which is really special to us.”

The Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award brings together a large part of the Three Village community — the library, school district, local elected officials, teenagers and their families and all of the children that read these books. As Hahn remarked, “What a great way to encourage teenagers to think about … what’s important to them and how to express that in a way that will resonate with children.”  

 

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. File photo by Michael Ruiz

By Rita J. Egan

Three Village’s approval was overwhelming.

The school district voted in favor of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library’s $5,235,398 budget for 2018, with 503 “yes” votes to 75 “no.”

With the budget $36,037 more than 2017, the tax levy will increase by 0.69 percent.

“Thank you to the Three Village community for your overwhelming support of Emma S. Clark Memorial Library,” President of the library board of trustees Linda Josephs said. “The library board and staff will continue to strive to provide the highest quality library services at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.”

Library Director Ted Gutmann said future projects include renovation of the lower level public restrooms, and the possibility of a small café that would serve coffee and light snacks. The proposed refreshment area would include seating.

He said the library staff also looks forward to the continuation of classes and one-on-one help with technology. Among other services Emma Clark provides are volunteer opportunities for teens, resources for parents, and programs for infants, toddlers and school-aged children, including a summer reading program that brings in thousands of kids each year. Every other week a bus is available for senior residents who cannot drive, providing them with transportation to the library to socialize and participate in programs. The library’s Homebound Service delivers books and other materials to those who are unable to visit the library.

“I want to thank everyone who voted, either in person or through absentee ballots,” Gutmann said. “The library is 125 years old; its ongoing success is a testament to the residents who have treasured their library over these many years. It is a team effort between the administration, staff, and most importantly, the patrons of the Emma Clark Library. As I’ve said before, the library is still a thriving and vibrant place. As times have changed, the library has changed, too, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the great relationship we have with our community.”

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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library recently received a grant to reimburse the cost of adding LED fixtures and bulbs in its building. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

By Rita J. Egan

Three Village residents voting on the proposed Emma S. Clark Memorial Library 2018 budget will be voting “yes” or “no” on a slight increase over last year’s budget.

The proposed $5,235,398 budget for the library is $36,037 more than 2017 and would increase the tax levy by 0.69 percent.

President of the library board of trustees Linda Josephs credits Director Ted Gutmann and the library staff with keeping costs down for the Sept. 27 vote.

“We are able to consistently fulfill this responsibility due to the tireless efforts of our dedicated, professional director and staff,” Josephs said in an email. “Our very small budget increases over the past several years without any decrease in services is a result of their performance.”

The library provides an educational and cultural resource for all ages in the Three Village area. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

Gutmann said the relatively low increase is due to a few factors, including the library no longer seeing an increase in their bills from the New York State & Local Retirement System as they did for several years. Approximately two-thirds of the staff is hourly or part-time, which reduces benefits costs. He said participating in the Partnership of Automated Libraries in Suffolk, a shared catalog/circulation system for Suffolk County libraries, has led to a savings of more than $20,000 a year. The library installed a new, energy-efficient boiler and HVAC units, which reduce utility costs, according to the director, and in the future lighting will be converted to LED, another cost saver.

Gutmann said contributions have also helped to offset operating budget costs. Donations in the last few years have included money left in 2014 by deceased Three Village social studies teacher and author Philip Groia to build the Global Studies collection, and late patron Helen Stein Shack’s family establishing an endowment used to fund an annual book award for teenagers.

The library recently received aid from state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), which has allowed the library to create a new technology center, also install a new carbon-monoxide detection and alarm system.

Gutmann said in addition to the library offering paper books and e-books, it provides classes, one-on-one technology training and programs, and volunteer opportunities. There are also senior bus and social programs for older residents.

The director said he believes it’s important for residents to vote and have a say in library decisions.

“The library is one of the few places left for the community to come together,” Gutmann said. “We are a place where our patrons can enhance their lives through books, programs, museum passes and online services. We are a unique educational and cultural resource that serves all ages in the Three Village community.”

The library budget vote will be held Wednesday, Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Periodicals Room in the historic section of the building. The library is located at 120 Main St. in Setauket. For detailed budget information, visit www.emmaclark.org.

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Audrey Hirschmann, pictured in 2000, has been a friendly staple at Emma Clark library’s circulation desk since 1977. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

By Rita J. Egan

A warm, familiar face at the circulation desk has greeted patrons of Emma S. Clark Memorial Library for decades. Audrey Hirschmann’s co-workers and members of the library’s board of trustees surprised her with a party Sept. 7 at Emma Clark to celebrate her 40th anniversary as an employee of the library.

Hirschmann, 88, said she has seen a lot of changes at the library since she started in 1977, including two expansions — one in the 1970s and one in the 1990s. The circulation clerk said she has worked with three directors and several supervisors at the library through the decades.

“A lot has gone on, and it just went so fast,” she said. “I can’t believe it went so fast.”

She began working at Emma Clark at 48, when her children Leslie Baffa, who was in attendance for the recent get-together, and Nancy, were teenagers. Baffa, of Stony Brook, said she was 15 when her mother started working at the library, and remembers walking there from P.J. Gelinas Junior High School. She said she’s proud of her mother for celebrating such a milestone.

“I think it’s great for her,” Baffa said. “She loves it here. It’s such a nice place to work; it’s such a nice place for the community. She really likes helping people at her job, so I think it’s great.”

Hirschmann said when she began working at the library she didn’t have any training in the field, and learned as the years went by. She said through the decades it’s been a pleasure working with her fellow employees and interacting with the patrons, especially her regulars. The library clerk said besides experiencing expansions and staff changes, she has shared life events with her fellow employees, including the passing of her husband, William, three years ago.   

Head of circulation Aileen Clark and library director Ted Gutmann were on hand for a party held at the library to commemorate Hirschmann’s 40 years as an employee Sept. 7. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“We had sadness, we had happiness,” she said.

The circulation clerk said in recent years people will often tell her to sit down and take it easy, but she loves keeping busy.

“In a lot of the ways it’s routine, which is good,” Hirschmann said. “I do certain things during the day, plus be at the desk. It’s pleasant. It’s nice work; it’s easy work, really. A lot of standing on the feet but it’s the whole atmosphere, it’s very forthcoming.”

Library director Ted Gutmann, who has worked with Hirschmann for 18 years, said he has always found her to be warm and personable.

“She’s always been great to have on the staff and at the circulation desk,” he said. “And everyone knows her here in the community, and she knows everybody.”

Library board of trustees president Linda Josephs echoed Gutmann’s sentiments.

“It’s amazing that she’s been here this long,” Josephs said. “Everybody in the community knows her. She’s always a pleasure to see at the desk.”

Aileen Clark, head of circulation, said she admires Hirschmann’s commitment to the job.

“We’re very proud of Emma Clark library, and she’s one of the reasons why,” Clark said.

Carolyn Emerson who has worked with Hirschmann for 32 years, said she’s inspired to reach the same milestone and has enjoyed her time working with her fellow employee. She said when she forgets a name, Hirschmann remembers it, and is knowledgeable about the community.

“She was the mainstay of circulation when I came, and she is always so cheerful and welcoming to people,” Emerson said.

When it comes to achieving such a work anniversary, Hirschmann has advice for those who are approaching retirement age.

“If you like what you’re doing, keep working because it’s your saving grace,” she said. “Are you going to hang around the house and be a couch potato?”

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.

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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. 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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