Library

Libraries Make Difficult Decisions Regarding Budget Votes

The Suffolk County Library System offices in Bellport have been turned into a 3D printing farm for face shields. Photo from SCLS

Libraries across Suffolk County may be closed, but they are not done serving the community.

In fact, the entire county library system has pulled together using a unique resource to benefit healthcare workers at Stony Brook hospital. 

The Suffolk County Library System offices in Bellport have been turned into a 3D printing farm for face shields. Photo from SCLS

The Suffolk Cooperative Library System has pulled together well over 50 3D printers from libraries across its network into one auditorium — now a sort of 3D printing farm — at its headquarters in Bellport. Hourly, these printers are churning out plastic parts for face shields used by medical workers. 

By March 30, officials expect over 70 printers should be hooked up to the printing farm. While the first five printers were owned by the library system, a score of others have come courtesy of local public libraries. Those who did not even have one, asked the library system to order one on their behalf, saying they will own it once the coronavirus crisis has ended.

Hospital workers use to avoid the splash of fluids to their faces from sick patients, and the printing farm is creating the headband portion of the protective gear. Stony Brook University’s iCREATE lab, hosted by IT professional David Ecker, has been producing said face shields for the past several days. Once the batch of headbands is printed by SCLS, Ecker accepts the devices and finalizes construction. 

Ecker has also included instructions for people to make their own face shields at https://nyinnovate.com/2020/03/26/face-shields-icreate/

Roger Reyes, the assistant director at the SCLS, has been working long hours getting everything up and running. While originally with fewer printers they were doing 75 a day, he said with a bevy of more printers he expects an output of about 250 a day. Each batch is delivered to Stony Brook by appointment. Each component takes around 2 to 3 and ½ hours depending on the model of the printer, but with the mass of devices at the Bellport office, they have been able to supply Stony Brook with many, many more components than Ecker was able to produce on his few machines. He added that MakerBot, a company that produces 3D printers, has committed to donate plastic filament to the project.

The Suffolk County Library System offices in Bellport have been turned into a 3D printing farm for face shields. Photo from SCLS

He was surprised by the number of libraries who went out of their way to reach out and provide their printers once the call went out. He said it was amazing for even the libraries who didn’t have printers who reached out to tell them to purchase another printer on their dime.

“I know the libraries,”Reyes said.  “I’ve worked with the library system for 11 years — they were struggling to close their buildings.Normally, libraries are there in emergency situations. That’s where people go for refuge, help and information, so to close their doors is hard for them. This idea is a relief for them.”

Comsewogue Public Library’s 3D printer was one of the first hooked up to the system after the SCLS set up its own internal bank of five printers, according to Debbie Englehardt, the library’s director. She said the library also provided its filament, which is the plastic the printers heat up and use to print said objects.

“The library system is continuing to ask SBU Hospital how else we can assist, whether it’s with encouraging the public as to a particular cover for N95 masks or getting the info out as to what’s needed.”

Tom Donlon, the director of the Port Jefferson Free Library, said they donated two of their printers, one from reference and another from the teen center. Additionally, the library has purchased an additional three printers to use on the farm. These were devices the director said his library was already planning to purchase.  The Middle Country Public Library donated five 3D printers, and the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket also announced it purchased a printer for use by the SCLS.

Libraries Look to Offer Services While Closed

Englehardt said it has been hard on the staff especially once it became clear the Comsewogue library had to close. Staff were nervous, but then something unique happened. One of her staff helped library workers through a staff Facebook group in guided meditation. The members  found it so successful, the library is now offering it on Facebook in periodic events for the general public.

Libraries all over have had to recreate its services online during the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We feel during this time that people would like a familiar librarian face to chat with,” Donlon said, also chatting up several classes including tutorials for people looking to use GoToMeeting, tutorials for how to download ebooks on Kindle and an online Teen Center Meetup, scheduled for Tuesday at 4 p.m. The library has also installed a chat app on the website that is being monitored by librarians in shifts to answer in real time.

Comsewogue Public Library has tried to bring some of its demonstrations and activities normally held in the library space online, including chats with librarians through video and cooking demonstrations. Libraries have also expanded access to sites like Hoopla and Kanopy, which allows patrons to access books and movies from home.

“We’ve all had an interesting time of it — we’ve had to basically reinvent our service program in order to bring it online and to try and differentiate what we’re offering compared to what other outlets are offering,” Englehardt said. “People are working from home. It’s discombobulating and isolating with everyone working on crazy schedules. People are overstimulated, and it’s hard to force yourself to relax.”

Libraries all across Long Island have had to make hard choices, especially those who hold budget votes and board elections in the spring months. The Port Jefferson Free Library announced March 25 it would be not holding its budget vote as scheduled for April 7. Donlon said in a statement they were looking at possibly rescheduling for June. Similarly, with libraries mandated closed by New York State until April 19, Comsewogue will also not be able to hold a public budget vote, though it plans to go ahead with a budget and board election in June.

Though there is another option available to libraries — essentially not holding a public vote, which Englehardt said would mean reverting back to last year’s tax year numbers.

This could potentially mean a drop in tax revenue and potentially financial aid to those libraries who take this route. 

“Each library would have to evaluate and re approach the operating budget,” she said “It would mean changes — we don’t know how the situation could affect state aid.”

It could also mean a change in services if the library board decides to go that route.

“Would hope the public wouldn’t notice any changes to service programs,” Englehardt said. “We know people will need us more than ever.”

The Middle Country Public Library continues to remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but library directors said its remote operations and digital platforms have been embraced and heavily trafficked by patrons who are utilizing the valuable access to information, programs and services.

The use of electronic resources has grown exponentially, and during this time, the library has offered more then 60 programs virtually, many of which were recorded and are available to view on the YouTube channel mcpl.tv. Included are programs for all ages such as instruction for using Google Classroom, yoga, cooking programs, art activities and story times. Visit http://www.mcplibrary.org/online-programs/ for a complete listing of online programs. Features include Citizenship Preparation, story times, cooking instruction, book discussions and arts and crafts activities.

In addition, Middle Country residents can register for a temporary library card online and contact the library’s customer service department to update the card to one with full privileges. A MCPL library card allows patrons to access the library’s extensive online offerings, including access to Live-brary, Hoopla, Kanopy and RB Digital, through which patrons can access thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, music and movies, as well as learning resources including online homework help and language learning.

This story was updated to say the Middle Country Public Library donated five 3D printers.

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

North Shore libraries are shutting their doors temporarily in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement has come after multiple levels of government, including New York State and the White House declared state of emergencies Thursday and Friday, respectively. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has called for a shutdown of all public gathering of 500 people or more.

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

Setauket’s Emma S. Clark Memorial Library announced March 13 that the building will be closed from Saturday, March 14, through at least Sunday, March 22.

The library will be evaluating the coronavirus situation to decide what will happen after March 22.

Patrons won’t accrue a late fee if items are due. The library asked that residents not bring materials to the book drop or leave them outside the building during this time.

Smithtown Library

On March 13, the Smithtown Library also notified patrons on its website and social media that all buildings would be closed until further noticed.

Book drops at all four library buildings will be closed until the library reopens. All fines accrued while its closed will be waived.

Port Jefferson Free Library

The Port Jefferson Free Library has closed its doors effective March 13 until further notice due to coronavirus concerns.

Patrons will not accrue any late fees on checked-out items while the library is closed.

Comsewogue Public Library

The Comsewogue Public Library is closed Sunday, March 15 and Monday, March 16. The library will open at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday for a board of trustees meeting that is open to the public. The discussion topics will be on Covid 19.

North Shore Public Library

The North Shore Public Library will be closed starting March 16 until further notice. The outside book drop is closed, and all patrons will not incur any late fees while the library is shut down.

Other online services are still available.

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The children's section of the Port Jefferson Free Library. File photo by Heidi Sutton

The Port Jefferson Free Library has closed its doors effective March 13 until further notice due to coronavirus concerns. 

Library Director Tom Donlon announced it late Friday after the library administration and board of trustees came to the decision it was necessary to “protect the health and well being of patrons and staff,” according to an email statement.

The announcement has come after multiple levels of government, including New York State and the White House declared a state of emergencies Thursday and Friday, respectively. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has called for a shutdown of all public gathering of 500 people or more. 

“The library fully appreciates and understands the disappointment and disruption that this action will cause, but finds that it is paramount to preserve to the greatest extent possible the safety of our patrons and staff during this declared state of emergency,” a statement from the library read. 

Patrons will not accrue any late fees on checked-out items while the library is closed.

The statement also asked patrons to consult the library’s website, portjefflibrary.org,  for ongoing developments. Online services including Overdrive, Hoopla and Kanopy are still available from the library’s website.

Over 300 children and their families shuffled into Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket during the school winter recess, Feb. 20, to enjoy the library’s 8th annual Take Your Child to the Library Day. Visitors enjoyed carnival games, face painting, temporary tattoos, balloon sculpting, crafts and more.  

Photos courtesy of Emma Clark Library

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Port Jefferson Free Library tears down a derelict building at 114 Thompson Street. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Port Jefferson Free Library board and directors have had the difficult task of upgrading facilities while keeping budget neutral. The new plan includes tearing down a condemned structure and seeking means to renovate the Bayles house.

In a release, president of the library board John Grossman said a multi-year planning process called for a building additional with additional parking spaces, though due to the settlement between LIPA and the Village/Town of Brookhaven back in December of the 2018, “the Board determined it would be neither feasible nor fair to the community to pursue that level of funding.”

“We know this is the responsible direction to take so that we can step up to their service needs without incurring significant additional expense,” Grossman added.

Instead, the board voted to demolish the structure at 114 Thompson Street, which the library purchased in 2009. Demolition began Feb. 3.

Thomas Donlon, the library’s executive director, said he wasn’t there when the property was originally purchased, but suspected the library originally had nebulous plans to retrofit the building that never materialized.

The library director said the Thompson property will be regraded and buffered once demolition of the building is fully complete. Costs for that project come in at approximately $60,000.

The LIPA decision has also put a hold on the library’s original designs for a master plan, which Donlon said has been put to the side while the LIPA settlement plays out.

Currently the library rents the building across the street for teenagers and for other meetings.

Donlon said they will now be seeking a permit for renovations to the Bayles house at the corner of East Main Street and Vineyard Place for a designated teen area and additional meeting space. Costs for that project are still largely up in the air while they await that permit and for an architect to draw up designs.

“By moving those activities within the footprint of existing structures, we avoid the growing costs for renting and managing an off-site space,” Donlon said.

Photo from Smithtown Library

On Jan. 13 the Passport Acceptance Facility at the Smithtown Library celebrated the execution of its 500th passport application. David Lawreniak of Smithtown was the lucky patron who made this appointment to apply for a new passport. Lawreniak received a travel gift basket as a token of appreciation for utilizing the service. 

The Passport Acceptance Facility opened its doors at the Main Building of the Smithtown Library at 1 North Country Road  in November of 2018. It is open to all patrons, regardless of library district by appointment only. For more information or to make an appointment, please call 631-360-2480, ext. 192 or email [email protected]

Pictured from left, Smithtown Library Assistant Director Patricia Thomson, Smithtown building head and passport acceptance agent Eileen Caulfield, passport acceptance agent William Salas, David Lawreniak, passport acceptance agent Christine Baum, passport acceptance agent Andrew Salomon and Smithtown Library Director Robert Lusak.

'Kicking up the Dust'

By Melissa Arnold

Ask Sally Anne Keller what she loves most about painting with watercolors, and she’ll give an interesting response: She says it’s like painting backward.

“There’s no white paint in watercolor, so if you want to have a white cloud in your piece, for example, you have to paint around the area you want it to go. It’s a little tricky, and I enjoy that,” said Keller, 53, of Rocky Point.

The artist fell in love with painting when she was just a little girl, and since then her work has appeared in galleries, libraries, hotels and local businesses. Her next event is a solo exhibit entitled Atmospheric Watercolors, appearing at the North Shore Public Library in Shoreham for the month of December.

“I grew up with a single mom and she worked a lot, and I was always doodling or painting something. Then one day when I was in elementary school, we had an art class about watercolors. That was it for me,” she recalled.

‘Path to Beach’

Aside from public school art classes, Keller is entirely self-taught, gathering much of her painting expertise from poring over books. Her family was supportive, she said, and pushed her to create and share whatever she could.

Ultimately, Keller began a career in the insurance industry, working jobs in various parts of the field for 30 years. On the weekends, she works as a consultant at an art gallery. And of course, whenever she can steal a few moments to herself, she’s painting in her home studio.

“You can be your own worst critic, and to hear other people say that they enjoy your work feels really good,” Keller said about the exhibition process. Her first exhibit a decade ago in Southampton brought her out of a solitary hobby and into the local art scene.

She’s now a part of the North Shore Art Guild and loves selling her work at affordable prices to raise money for causes close to her heart. Even the infamous radio host Howard Stern has purchased one of Keller’s paintings — at the time, he shared that he enjoyed painting with watercolors himself.

“I love getting people together, especially when it can help other people at the same time,” she said. “I’ve donated to veterans’ causes, animal rescues, and children’s hospitals in the past.”

With Atmospheric Watercolors, Keller has selected about a dozen watercolor paintings of varied sizes that depict Long Island landscapes. What makes her work special, she said, is the way she tries to pull viewers into the scene.

“I’m really into nature — I see shapes, shadows, and colors in ways that most people overlook. I like to create pieces that make you feel what you see. If it’s a sunny day, then I want you to be able to feel the warmth. If it’s a storm, you might feel the heaviness of the clouds coming in or smell the rain,” Keller said. “If people can experience that by looking at my work, then it makes me happy.”

Currently, the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, located at 3131 Nesconset Hwy. in Centereach, is featuring a collection of works from the North Shore Art Guild. The exhibit includes several of Keller’s paintings. All the artwork on display is for sale, and proceeds from sales of those pieces will benefit Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. 

Vito Marrone, incoming president of the North Shore Art Guild, met the watercolor artist when he first joined the organization in 2011. At the time, Keller was participating in a mixed exhibit of more than 50 artists. Marrone recalls Keller’s work catching his eye right away.

 “We have some really great artists that are part of the North Shore Art Guild, and Sally is one of them. I’ve had the chance to take classes with her and she’s so good at what she does,” he said. “Watercolor is difficult, and she’s taught me a lot about how to engineer a watercolor and maintain control of the paint so that the finished piece comes out well.”

Keller’s work has been featured in several exhibits at the North Shore Public Library, and Adult Program Coordinator Lorena Doherty said they’re excited to welcome her back again.

“Sally is a skilled watercolor artist. Her work is direct, and luscious in the use of color and light,” Doherty said. “Sally has a way of isolating the beauty of nature and creating the feeling of standing inside the work, not just on the outside looking in. Atmospheric artwork is timeless and enduring, and the exhibit is a beautiful addition to the library.”

For those interested in meeting Keller and learning more about working with watercolor, she will host a demonstration at the library on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. All are welcome and the event is free.

North Shore Public Library, 250 Route 25A, Shoreham will present Atmospheric Watercolors throughout the month of December. For library hours and more information, please call 631-929-4488.