The Heritage Park in Mount Sinai keeps getting better and better. Recently Grace Burns of Girl Scout Troop 004 created a nature-themed reading center directly behind the park’s new Little Free Library for her Gold Award project. “After the park moved the Little Free Library near The Shack, it hadn’t been recognized to it’s full potential,” said the 17-year-old in a recent email. The Mount Sinai High School senior is hopeful the sitting area will spark more interest in reading and hopefully some more visitors to the library.
But that’s not all. According to Burns, the project is still in the works. “I’m currently running a book drive to restock the library and I’m creating signs that will draw more attention to the area. One sign reads, ‘You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book,’ by Dr. Seuss.” “I’m superexcited to be working on this and I’m hoping to establish a Volunteer Reading Program to be up and running in the spring time,” said Burns, adding, “A huge part of this project has come from my love of teaching and reading, as I wish to pursue a career as an English teacher next year in college.”
Heritage Park is located at 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk. Check out the Little Free Library and sit for awhile, courtesy of Grace Burns. And remember, take a book, leave a book. For more information, call 631-509-0882.
Much of the Port Jefferson Station community, and all of the Comsewogue Public Library’s past director’s were on hand Saturday for a day of celebration to commemorate the facility’s golden anniversary.
As part of the event, the library’s community room was dedicated to its first director, Richard Lusak, who served in that position from 1966 to 2002. In its 50-year history, the Comsewogue Public Library has had just three directors. The 50th anniversary celebration Oct. 14 also featured games, a bounce house, farm animals, crafts, giveaways, snacks, face-painting, balloon animals, music, a historical society photo gallery and tour and a new gallery exhibit.
“The program says ‘celebrating our past, present and future,’ so that’s what we’re doing all in one day, with the community,” the third, and current Director Debra Engelhardt said during the event. “We thought of it as a community thank you for the ongoing support that we’ve had since day one, across all three administrations.”
Engelhardt’s predecessor, Brandon Pantorno, who served at the helm of the library from 2003 through 2012 and is a Port Jefferson Station native, is a lifetime member of what they each referred to as the library family, as they all worked in several different capacities in the library’s hierarchy before becoming director.
“I remember when Blockbuster video came into the neighborhood right on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station and people would say ‘videos, they’re going to be the end to libraries,’” he said. “Well, libraries started circulating videos in addition to books, in addition to library coordinated programs, and guess what? Blockbuster video is no longer here, but Comsewogue library and other libraries — the library world — is still stronger than ever. We have evolved; we have very cleverly metamorphosed into different things for so many people.”
Lusak was brought on to lead the library in its infancy in 1966 by its board of trustees at the time. During the summer of 1966, the Comsewogue School District board of education petitioned the community in 1966 to schedule a vote, in which five trustees would be elected and establish a budget of about $68,000. In November 1966, Lusak was hired, and the library’s original grounds were established in a portable classroom at the southern end of Terryville Road, which still exists today. By November 1967, the community overwhelmingly voted in support of funding the building of a 16,000-square-foot facility at 170 Terryville Road, where the library remains today, though it has grown exponentially over the years.
Lusak said he was honored and humbled to have the community meeting room dedicated in his honor.
“I think the community decides whether or not we did a good job,” he said. “I can say this: the community has always been supportive of the library. The board of trustees here has always been dedicated to this institution — totally dedicated.”
The library’s first director tried to sum up what his time at the community institution meant to him.
“The people just love this library for the community, and I take a tremendous amount of pride in being associated with that,” said Lusak, who is still a resident of Port Jefferson. “It made my life a pleasure.”
Lusak’s wife Rosalie also attended the ceremony to celebrate her husband’s lifelong work.
“It was never a job to him, it was just his passion,” she said. “It’s very, very moving that something would be dedicated to him and I’m glad he got to see it.”
The Cumsewogue Historical Society was on hand during the event to share stories of the library’s history. Historical society Vice President Joan Nickeson said the very first library card issued in 1967 was to Thomas E. Terry, the grandson of Edward Terry, who was one of the Terry brothers who founded Terryville.
The Smithtown Library patrons have given their seal of approval to the proposed 2018 plans of library officials while electing a new face to the board.
Voters approved the $14.6 million 2018 Smithtown Library budget, by 798-241 votes, in the Oct. 10 election. Board trustees Louis Frontario and William Zimmerman were re-elected, but newcomer Brianna Baker-Stines edged out incumbent Rudy Zientarksi to take a seat.
“The Smithtown Library thanks the residents of Smithtown who came out in support of their library and we look forward to continuing to serve the reading, informational, cultural and entertainment needs of the community,” Robert Lusak, library director, said.
New trustee Baker-Stines, of Smithtown, works as an accounting assistant and has a master’s degree in business from Stony Brook University, according to her candidate profile on the library’s website. She previously worked as a reference clerk for the Hauppauge Public Library from 2012 to 2017.
Prior to being elected, Baker-Stines stated her goals were to promote and maintain the brand of the library, increase residents’ usage of the library and improve funding through advocacy.
“Libraries are currently changing in their meaning to communities,” she wrote in her candidate profile. “Instead of just being houses full of books, they are places to meet people and create things.”
The library’s 2018 budget has funding set aside to increase the number of hours at its four branches, increase programming, and maintain and improve its current facilities, according to Lusak.
More than $10.7 million of the library’s annual budget is set aside to cover employees’ salaries and benefits, with the approved budget containing a $150,000 increase over 2017.
Additional staffing will be required next year if a new pilot program offering extended hours on Friday nights continues to be successful, according to Lusak. Since Labor Day, the Smithtown branch has stayed open an additional three hours on Fridays, pushing back its closing time from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Based on patrons’ response, Lusak said he is leaning toward making a recommendation to library board trustees that all the other three branches — Commack, Kings Park and Nesconset — should stay open Friday nights starting in 2018.
The approved budget includes an additional $68,000 funding increase, for a total of $344,000, toward equipment and capital outlays. The funds will go toward ensuring updated computers and technological equipment is available at the library, according to treasurer Joanne Grove.
To better serve guests, Lusak said the 2018 budget contains funds for upgraded lighting and improved parking at the library’s four branches. The district also hopes to purchase a new generator as part of its emergency response plan.
The 2018 budget will result in a $6.40 increase, or $313.47 per year, for a homeowner with an assessed property value of $5,500. Residents looking to calculate library taxes on their home should divide their assessed value by $1,000, take the resulting number and multiply it by 56.994. Further video instructions can be found on the library district’s website at www.smithlib.org.
‘Today a reader, tomorrow a leader’ — Margaret Fuller
By Kevin Redding
Port Jefferson’s newest minilibrary has liftoff at Rocketship Park. In a partnership between the Port Jefferson Free Library and the village board, a Little Free Library was recently installed at the family-friendly park, where adults, teens and children alike can reach into the purple-painted wooden box to pick up or drop off a wide array of books. An official ribbon cutting was held last Thursday, Sept. 28.
The library, shaped like a tiny schoolhouse and currently stocked with children’s titles like “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” was built from a kit and installed by Stonegate Landscape. It stands as Port Jefferson Free Library’s second book exchange program, with the other unveiled in front of the William Miller House on North Country Road in Miller Place last month.
Director of Port Jefferson Free Library Tom Donlon led elected officials, including Mayor Margot Garant and Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for what the mayor called a fantastic addition to the town.
“I’m so happy that we can provide some reading for our young children because I think reading a book goes a long way to helping educate them and bring them into the world,” Garant said with giant scissors in hand. “[It’ll make for] a true sense of community, and that’s what makes our village great.”
Donlon said when the park reopened in June, he and the library’s board members knew it was a perfect spot for book-sharing for all ages. “We have families that come here and while the kids are running around, mom or dad or the adult with them might want something to read,” he said. “Giving back to the community is our goal. And you never know what you’re going to find in there … and what adventures await.”
Rocketship Park is located in the Village of Port Jefferson on Maple Place between Mill Creek Road and Barnum Avenue, across from the tennis courts. For more information, call 631-473-0022.
In a technological era where some argue books are obsolete, The Smithtown Library is asking taxpayers for funding to expand its hours to meet patrons’ demands.
The Smithtown Library will hold a vote on its $14.6 million proposed 2018 budget Oct. 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The proposed budget represents an overall $300,000 budget increase from 2017.
Robert Lusak, director of The Smithtown Library, said the proposed budget takes aim to increase the number of hours at its four branches, increase programming and maintain and improve its current facilities.
More than $10.7 million of the library’s annual budget is set aside to cover employees’ salaries and benefits with the proposed budget containing a $150,000 increase over 2017.
“With four buildings, we will have the largest staff. When you have an operating budget in a service-driven industry, the bulk of your budget is salaries.”
“We are the largest library on Long Island,” Lusak said. “With four buildings, we will have the largest staff. When you have an operating budget in a service-driven industry, the bulk of your budget is salaries.”
The library district does have a policy of replacing retiring employees, or those leaving, with entry-level workers in efforts to reduce the impact on payroll, according to library treasurer Joanne Grove.
More staffing will be required next year if a new pilot program offering extended hours on Friday nights continues to be successful, according to Lusak. Since Labor Day, the Smithtown Branch has stayed open an additional three hours on Fridays, pushing back its closing time from 6 to 9 p.m.
“Each week we’ve stayed open beyond 6 p.m. on a Friday night, the number of visitors keeps climbing because of word-of-mouth and publicizing it on social media,” the director said.
Based on patrons’ response, Lusak and Grove said they are currently leaning toward making a recommendation to library board trustees that all the other three branches — Commack, Kings Park and
Nesconset — should stay open Friday nights starting in 2018.
This year, the library pushed its opening time to 9:30 a.m., previously doors unlocked at 10 a.m, to allow visitors to come by earlier.
The proposed budget includes an additional $68,000 funding increase, for a total of $344,000, toward equipment and capital outlays. The funds will go toward ensuring updated computers and equipment is available at the library, according toGrove.
“Our [computer] terminals are always full with patrons,” Grove said. “We also have 3D printers in each of our library buildings, which has generated a lot of interest from the public.”
To better serve guests, Lusak said the 2018 budget also includes funds to upgrade lighting and improve parking at the library’s four branches. The district also hopes to obtain a new generator as part of its emergency response plan.
If approved, the proposed 2018 budget would result in a $6.40 increase, or $313.47 per year, for the homeowner with an assessed property value of $5,500. Residents looking to calculate library taxes on their home should divide their assessed value by $1,000, take the resulting number and multiply it by 56.994. Further video instructions can be found on the library district’s website at www.smithlib.org.
On the ballot, residents can choose from four candidates running for three seats on the library’s board of trustees. The candidates are Brianna Baker-Stines of Smithtown, incumbent Louis Frontario of Fort Salonga, incumbent Rudy Zientarksi of Smithtown and incumbent William Zimmerman of St. James. A biography for each of these individuals can be found online at www.smithlib.org/library-board-candidates-2016.html.
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.”
The historic Terryville Union Hall is the latest recipient of a Little Free Library, thanks to Comsewogue Public Library Director Debra Engelhardt and the library, which stocked and funded the installation.
Pictured with Engelhardt are library staff members and local resident Angela DeRosalia, who hand-painted the kiosk, Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Northern Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Dzvonar and member Lisa Molinelli, who brought their children to ‘leave a book, take a book.’
Joining them is Terryville Road Elementary School Principal April Victor with supportive parents and students and Cumsewogue Historical Society President Jack Smith, Vice President Joan Nickeson, Treasurer Lou Antoniello and member Jackie Kirsch, who donated a collection of popular tween books.
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.”
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.
More to come as next location is planned for Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson
Outside the oldest house in Miller Place sits the newest public library on the North Shore.
What might initially appear to be a newly installed, red-and-white mailbox in front of the William Miller House at 75 North Country Road is actually a Little Free Library, where residents of all ages are encouraged to pick up or drop off a book while on the go.
The mini library, which is shaped like a tiny schoolhouse and currently holds between 15 and 20 books ranging from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to “Goodnight Moon,” stands as the most recent free book exchange program to sprout up on Long Island, with others installed at West Meadow Beach and Heritage Park in Mount Sinai last year.
The idea for the book-sharing movement, which has spanned more than 70 countries around the world since the first little library was built by Todd Bol of Wisconsin in tribute to his mother in 2009, is that with a quick turn of a wooden latch, it can increase book access for readers of all ages and backgrounds and to inspire a love of reading and community connection.
Members of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society unveiled their new addition Aug. 9 to a large crowd of smiling faces, which included residents, elected officials and representatives from Port Jefferson Free Library and Comsewogue Public Library. The two libraries partnered with the historical society to buy and sponsor it.
“I woke up this morning and I had the Mister Roger’s song in my head, ‘Oh what a beautiful day in the neighborhood,’” said Antoinette Donato, vice president of the historical society, during the ceremony. “This little library is symbolic of how our community comes together … and a community is strengthened when all the different organizations work well together. So when you reach into that box to put something in or take something out, please remember that you’re also reaching into your community. I hope it’s a very active library.”
Tom Donlon, director of Port Jefferson Free Library, said when he and Debbie Engelhardt, director of Comsewogue Public Library, decided to partner up to bring the program to the Miller Place community, they immediately knew the perfect place for it.
“Right away we thought of the historical society,” Donlon said. “The society really meshes with our libraries’ goals of education, entertainment, enlightenment and lifelong learning and investigation. We love that it’s here, it’s a great spot and I think it’s certainly going to serve the community very well.”
Engelhardt called little free libraries a beautiful concept.
“Anybody can use it as much as they want and it’s always a mystery when you open that box — you never know what you’ll find,” Engelhardt said. “There are no late fees, no guilt, no stress. If you want to keep a book, you can … we are pleased to partner with the historical society to bring this gem. The books inside will move you and teach you. We say that libraries change lives and, well, little free libraries can too.”
She added that these mini libraries have also proven to energize the spot they’re put in. For the historical society, whose William Miller House is nearly 300 years old and needs between $18,000 and $28,000 to renovate a collapsing roof and a total $100,000 for a full-house repair, any amount of attention to their cause is welcomed.
“What this does for us is it puts us in the limelight again, so that people are aware of us, they come and visit us and are sensitive to our needs,” Donato said.
Fittingly, although the box was stocked with books already donated by the libraries, the first batch of reading material from the public came from 12-year-old Jack Soldano, who spent the summer raising more than $1,000 for the historical society with his very own comic book stand.
Soldano contributed issues of Captain America, Star Wars and Power Rangers comics to join such titles as “Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, “The Stranger” by Harlan Coben and the Grimm fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Over at Heritage Park, next to the Shack concession stand by the playground, the red-painted little free library currently contains more youth-oriented reads. Several books within “The Babysitters Club” series and Walt Disney’s “Fun-To-Learn Library” collection, as well as “Sable” by Karen Hesse, are available for the taking.
Manorville resident Megan Murray, who was at the park with her young daughter, said she’s been a fan of the initiative since a few popped up in her area.
“The concept is great because it’s for everybody, rich or poor,” Murray said. “It’s really sad that so many kids don’t have access to books and I think it’s wonderful.”
Currently there are plans for a little free library to be installed at Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson next month.
This summer, the Middle Country Public Library is giving the community a chance to not only admire the beauty of nature but to create something new and exciting within it.
Crochet It! is being hosted by the library as a community-driven art collective in which trees will be wrapped with thousands of colorful crocheted circles. This project will be creating two separate art installations to be displayed at the library for the public to enjoy.
Tracy LaStella, the library’s assistant director for youth services, beamed recalling the nearly 100 people who showed up for the June kick-off, where the library went through its first four boxes of macramé for the trees. Since then, she’s seen people of all ages and backgrounds become participants.
“This is our third drop-in, and they just keep on getting bigger and bigger,” LaStella said.
Carol Hummel, an artist well known for her large-scale installations and global projects, attended the Middle Country Public Library’s kick-off to offer two instructional workshops and will return in September to start the decorations she refers to as “artwork by the people, for the people.”
Since 2004, Hummel has been traveling to do community crocheting projects, also known as yarn-bombing. This is Hummel’s third time doing an installation on Long Island — her first was in Oyster Bay, and thesecond was at Stony Brook’s Long Island Museum after being noticed at a gallery showing in the area.
After the installation at The Long Island Museum, Hummel said the staff told her that they still get 10 people a day, at least, that stop and come to The Long Island Museum to look at the trees. “And then they get exposed to the place,” Hummel said.
Participants not only get pleasure from creating the pieces but also get to enjoy themafter they are installed.
“It exposes people to a kind of art — contemporary art — that is different than going into a museum and looking at a painting on a wall,” Hummel said.
Hummel’s role in Crochet It! is planning, designing and figuring out logistics, like how much of each yarn color is needed. Then, the project is turned over to the library’s volunteers to produce pieces, which Hummel and her team will put together in September.
The artist said she enjoys working with Long Islanders, saying that they get many people involved.
Participants have the choice to work individually or attend the drop-in crochet sessions hosted at the library. The Crochet Socials Drop-in Sessions will have instructors present and will be taking place until September.
Instructor Corin LaCicero, 38, walked around the July 12 session, offering assistance to anyone who needed help.
“It’s fun to see them learn, and when they get it they get really excited,” LaCicero said of the participants. She explained that after a few weeks they’re learning how to create things like chains and circles.
LaCicero was taught to crochet by her mother and grandmother at 8 years old. Having the hobby passed down leads her to emphasize the benefits of group sessions.
“Some people might have different techniques than others,” she said. “You might have someone come who’s left-handed and it’s hard to teach, and someone else can help with that.”
The trees will be adorned with orange, blue, yellow and purple yarn in the Nature Explorium at the library’s Centereach building, where the drop-in sessions are held. “We must have over a thousand circles done already, and we need thousands because we’re doing two large trees on the property here,” LaStella said. “My office is just filled with the circles.”
Marianne Ramos-Cody, of Selden, sat in on a drop-in session July 12 for the first time with her two young children nearby.
“I’ve crocheted before, but nothing like this,” Ramos-Cody said as she demonstrates the circular pattern of the crocheting with her son by her side. “He wants to learn, but I gotta learn first to show him.
The library is offering Crochet It! kits to be picked up for any participants to start their work. The kit includes all of the materials necessary for making the circles.
The Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, has given the necessary funds for the project to take off. The Huntington Arts Council administers the project, which will integrate nature and art into the community.
Community involvement is one of the beneficial aspects of the project, and drop-in crochet sessions will be Aug. 9 and 22 and Sept. 6 and 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Centereach location at 101 Eastwood Blvd.
“It’s always nice to experience something that’s so inspirational to everybody who’s working on it,” Hummel said.
She’s excited to be one of the first artists to go viral with yarn-bombing.
“People always say ‘aren’t you afraid people are going to copy you?’ I want them to copy me — I think it’s great,” Hummel said. “Spread joy and art around the world — that’s the best thing you can expect.”