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Libraries

Standing in front of Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) at Port Jefferson Free Library's tea party are, from left, Linda Gavin; Earlene O’Hare; Carol Stalzer; Shirley Weiner; Stephanie Costanzo; Lucio Constanzo; Francesca Lutz; and Deborah O’Neil. Photo by Heidi Sutton

In celebration of the 90th anniversary of the publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary novel “The Great Gatsby,” the Friends of the Port Jefferson Free Library held a Gatsby Tea Party fundraiser on Wednesday, April 29.

Guests enjoyed a wonderful lunch and dessert and sipped tea from their favorite teacups. Shirley Weiner presented a lecture on F. Scott Fitzgerald and his literary works which was followed by a raffle drawing.

The Port Jefferson Historical Society loaned a period costume exhibit, featuring a flapper dress, a man’s tuxedo and a bridal trousseau, for the occasion.

Proceeds from the event will be used to fund projects at the library such as its Living Heritage programs, Dickens Festival events, music programs, Baby Book Welcome Bags, Vets Memorial Project, family carnival and more.

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library shows off its new gear. Photo from Robert Caroppoli

Setauket’s own Emma S. Clark Memorial Library made the most of $10,000 in state funding and is now celebrating a new state-of-the-art technology center.

Three new 55-inch smart televisions were only the beginning of the new technological enhancements made at the library this month, thanks to $10,000 in state funding from state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), which helped offset the cost of the refurbished center. It took a lot of work, but the library made sure to employ all the painting and wiring from in-house library employees in order to get the most out of the money.

“We are grateful to Sen. Flanagan for this generous award, which will help enhance the lives of our patrons, young and old,” said Ted Gutmann, library director. “Thanks to Sen. Flanagan and New York state, this new facility ensures that Emma Clark Library continues to offer its patrons the latest in technology, keeping it a modern library for today’s fast-paced world within its charming façade.”

Moving forward, Gutmann said the technology center will offer classes to the public on a wide variety of subjects, including those for beginners and others for more advanced learners. With this new software, the library will add to its existing selection of classes for teens by offering online video creation and editing.

Flanagan visited the library last week to meet with Gutmann and its employees to tour the new equipment and share in the success.

“The staff and leadership of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library has utilized this state funding to create a learning center that will enhance the lives of so many in the community. This new technology center has many different applications for young and old and is a great addition to this already impressive facility,” Flanagan said. “I am happy that we were able to work together for the benefit of the patrons.”

Among the equipment purchased as a result of the grant were three Vizio 55-inch wall-mounted smart televisions, which have the ability to mirror the display of the instructor’s machine, Apple TV and any other HDMI-capable hardware. This technology will allow participants to follow along with an instructor during any class. Each television is also equipped with a floor level HDMI port for easy access to gaming systems or other external input devices.

The Technology Center will also house 10 Dell computers with 23-inch LCD monitors, which are wall-mounted to allow for a clean appearance and functionality. These computers are designed in a way that enhances learning because they are fast, reliable and equipped with some of the latest technology available, including Intel i5 processors, 8GB of memory, and wireless keyboards and mouses, the library said.

The library also received a brand new Macbook Pro with an Intel i7 processor and 16GB of memory, which operates on Mac OSX Yosemite. The Macbook also has Microsoft Office 2014 and Final Cut Pro, which allows for video and photo editing.

All classes held in the Technology Center can be found in the printed newsletter or online at  /newsletters.

The library already offers adult classes on a broad range of topics, such as the Internet, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Facebook, Pinterest, smartphones and tablets. Children and teen programs include Minecraft and Wii U. Also offered are workshops and drop-in tech assistance for help with mobile devices in a small, personal setting.

The library even offers a Teen Tech Clinic on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, where teens volunteer to assist adults with their computers and mobile devices.

The Huntington library is packed with people reading, studying and doing other work. File photo

Voters in the Huntington Public Library district overwhelmingly approved an $8.9 million budget for next year that stays within a state-mandated cap on property tax levy increases.

Residents also elected a new library trustee, Pat McKenna Bausch, knocking eight-year incumbent Harriet Spitzer off the board.

In total, 423 voted in favor of the budget and 88 voted against it, according to library director Joanne Adam.

“I feel wonderful,” Adam said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Of course, I’m happy that it passed. I think what makes me even more happy is the amount that it passed by.”

Bausch was the top vote-getter in a contest of three vying for one seat. Candidate Yvette Stone earned 53 votes and incumbent Spitzer amassed 174 votes.

Looking forward, Adam is most excited about renovations at the library’s Main Street branch, which include reconfiguring some spaces and updating the building’s lighting, heating and ventilation.

“Redoing the space, I think, will kind of just give us a nice facelift.”

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Board member Pam DeFord pushes for the implementation of another full-time librarian. Photo by Barbara Donlon

After incorporating all but one wish list item in its 2015-2016 budget, some Kings Park board of education members insisted on raising the tax cap to add a full-time librarian position.

On Tuesday, the district presented its last budget presentation, which included a tax levy of 2 percent — lower than the maximum 2.27 allowed by the state. The district was able to keep the levy low and still add all the items it wanted, except a librarian that would split time between both Park View Elementary School and Fort Salonga Elementary School.

“So on the wish list, the only thing we didn’t do was the librarian for Fort Salonga and Park View,” board trustee Diane Nally asked. “If we had gone to the 2.27 and we did do the librarian, would there be additional monies also in there to go towards the applied fund balance?”

The district’s superintendent, Timothy Eagen, addressed Nally’s question and said increasing the levy to 2.27 percent would leave the district with roughly $170,000 that could potentially pick up the last wish-listed item.

Increasing the tax levy to 2.27 percent would cost the average homeowner $22 per year, which is something board members Diane Nally and Pam DeFord were advocating.

“I am disappointed that the librarian to be split between Park View and Fort Salonga is not included in the budget because I do think that is important,” Nally said.

During the discussion, board trustee Pam DeFord spoke about a staff member being hired to fulfill an unfunded mandate from the state and said if the district did not have the mandate, the librarian position could have been fulfilled.

DeFord pushed to allow the tax levy to increase to 2.27 percent; she feels since the state is allowing it, the district should take full advantage of it.

“By going up to the 2.27, which is well below what budgets have passed historically here in Kings Park, we could possibly bring back a full-time librarian,” DeFord said. “Now is the chance to restore, start to restore what our kids have been missing for so long.”

Board President Tom Locascio and Vice President Charlie Leo said they felt uncomfortable maxing the allowable tax levy. Leo mentioned that the district originally projected a 1.71 percent increase and raising it to 2 percent was enough of an increase.

“One of my concerns is we have put forth a budget where we were always talking 1.71, and I think the community kind of started to get a nice feel the budget was going to be 1.71,” Leo said. “I don’t want to hire a librarian, then have to reduce a librarian.”

According to Eagen, the district has a contingent position in the budget in the event that kindergarten registration is higher than normal. If the registration is lower and the position is not needed, there is a chance the position could go toward a librarian.

“We could absolutely take that contingent position and dedicate it to the librarian,” Eagen said.

Parent Bill Claps addressed the board in support of adding a librarian and said he feels the school needs one. He said he is embarrassed that the district can’t offer a librarian to its students.

“You’ve all had librarians in your school, so why can we not afford that for our children,” Claps said. “I don’t want to pay taxes anymore than anyone else does, but we have to bring the district back to certain standards.”

Chris Philip, president of the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association, also took to the board in favor of a librarian.

“It’s really incomprehensible under the common core rigor that we don’t have one [a librarian] in every school,” Philip said.

Philip said librarians do more than fund books and it’s crucial for their education that students have access to a librarian.

As of Wednesday, no decision had been made on whether the district will go to the 2.27 tax levy to add a librarian.

A view of the ‘I Matter’ art project at Northport Public Library. Photo from Dina Rescott

A local group that empowers children through character education and art is hosting a celebration and fundraiser event on April 30, where the public can come and see what it is all about.

Around 90 Commack, Huntington and Northport youth who participated in the “I Matter” art and character education project that was featured at local libraries in the past year will be honored at the John W. Engeman Theater at 6 p.m. prior to a performance of “A Chorus Line” at 8 p.m.

The “I Matter” project is an education and leadership program founded by the Center for Creative Development based in Huntington. It aims to inspire and empower students to make healthy decisions and steer clear of destructive behavior.

Several presenters from the project are expected to attend the event, including Rob Goldman, the center’s director; New York State Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport); corporate sponsors and more.
The project’s new theme song, “Shine On,” will be debuted by writer and recording artist Alan Semerdjian. Choir members from Huntington schools will be featured on the song.

“It’s really bringing the community together,” Raia said in a statement. “We need to uplift the self-confidence of our teens and this is just the perfect program to do that.”

Participation in the “I Matter” project allows children to take part in a workshop environment where they share thoughts and feelings face-to-face, make photographic portraits of each other and more. The project also prompts public conversation and community involvement to address social issues and drug use.

Tickets for the event can be purchased and donations and sponsorships can be made at the website www.imatterproject.org/donate.html.

Librarian slated to lead lecture including 17th-century tales of popular Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

Cathy Ball is a supervising librarian of the Long Island Room at the Smithtown Library. Photo from Carol Paquette

George Washington in the park? What is the history of the road? Caleb, a thorn in whose side? Did he run the gauntlet? Why was he robbed?

These are some of the anecdotes that will be part of an inside look at the history of Smithtown’s Caleb Smith State Park Preserve on Sunday, April 19, at 1 p.m. at the preserve on Jericho Turnpike. The free event will be presented by Friends of Caleb Smith Preserve. Preregistration is required by calling 265-1054.

Cathy Ball, supervising librarian of the Long Island Room at the Smithtown Library, will speak and illustrate, with artifacts, historical stories about the 543-acre preserve and the families of Caleb Smith.

The original house, which is located on the preserve, was built in 1753 by Smith — a great-grandson of Smithtown’s founder Richard Smythe — and his father Daniel Smith II.

“I have been thinking a lot about Caleb, his children and grandchildren, and the history of the park and the roads within the park and their purpose in earlier times,” said Ball, noting that she will discuss the effects of the Revolutionary War on Smith and his family. She will also delve into their lives, the mills, and the property’s subsequent history as the Wyandanch Club before becoming a state park and preserve.

Since 2004, Ball, a resident of Setauket, has worked in the Long Island Room, which contains 8,000 books and 200 boxes of documents, including original manuscripts from the 17th century. Working alongside local historian and archivist Caren Zatyk, Ball conducts programs and exhibits, supplemented with the archives.

Currently both of them are working with the New York State Department of Transportation on the development of pocket parks for cyclists along Route 347 in Smithtown, providing information and historical photo displays for each park that will depict the history of that particular area.

The Long Island Room brings in a “continual stream of researchers and authors from long distance researching family and local history,” Ball said.