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Lisa Deverna

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The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. File photo by Elyse Sutton

By Nasrin Zahed

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library held its annual budget vote on Wednesday, Sept. 20, with the Three Village community overwhelmingly supporting the measure, 437-74.

The proposed budget plan outlines continued expenses, such as employee salaries and mandated benefits, while highlighting the library’s plans to expand resources to the community and become a more central local hub.

The proposed $5,726,582 fiscal year budget is $88,526 more than the previous years, with a 1.57% tax levy increase.

Lisa DeVerna, the library’s marketing communications manager, expressed the library’s delight at the public support. “We were very pleased with the outcome,” she said in an email. “Eighty-six percent of voters supported the budget, which is comparable to years past.”

DeVerna outlined some of the big projects the library brought to fruition this year, such as the completed construction project to improve the flow of the main reading room.

“We now have a better delineation between the quiet and lively areas,” DeVerna said, offering more structure to the layout of the space and allowing patrons to enjoy public events and activities without infringing on the sanctity of the popular study spot.

The communications manager expanded on the library’s current café project, which is still under construction, giving assurances that the space would be open to the public soon.

The library is also revamping the Children’s Department by adding new toys and play sets. “These projects are helping make the library even more of a community center than it was before, inviting those to come and stay for a while and meeting the different needs of our various constituents,” DeVerna said.

The library will also go beyond Setauket residence by purchasing museum passes for patrons to borrow out through their unique Library of Things collection.

Passes to the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog in Manhattan, as well as the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame, are currently available. The Library of Things also lets patrons sign out many items such as cameras, telescopes, projectors and more.

DeVerna shared how library staff are working toward catering to community youth by developing a separate Teen Services Department. The separation has “allowed us to build more robust programming, particularly year-round volunteer opportunities for teens, who are always looking for more community service hours,” DeVerna said.

With hopes of redesigning the layout and flow of the Children’s Library and increasing investments into existing programs, DeVerna outlined that “in general, we are concentrating on programming next year and have increased the budget of the program by $15,000.” Yet, the budget keeps flowing as DeVerna emphasized that the library is also looking to widen adult opportunities.

“For adults, we’re expanding the scope of our technology classes in 2024, including an advanced Excel class and more of an emphasis on the Cricut cutting machine due to the demand for such programming,” she said. 

As the library has typically catered to classes at the beginner level, this allows patrons to refine and expand on the basics that they have already learned.

With the budget’s passage, Emma S. Clark Memorial Library leaders aim for the library to remain a staple of the Three Village area through its new programs, spaces and interests for its neighbors.

Pictured from left, Lisa DeVerna, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Ted Gutmann, Jennifer Mullen and Emily Ostrander. Photo by Abigail Choi, Councilmember Kornreich's office

If you forgot a book for your beach day, it’s not a problem. The Little Free Library, hosted by Setauket’s Emma Clark Library, is back at West Meadow Beach for the summer! The structure was reinstalled on June 22.

This “Take a Book or Leave a Book” concept is one that exemplifies recycling and community and in addition, encourages lifelong reading. Beachgoers are encouraged to grab a book and/or donate one to this structure located under the pavilion at the beach. 

According to a press release, the books are all donated by the public. This little library is possible thanks in part to many generous booklovers (books are not curated or owned by Emma Clark — please don’t return your library books there). Library teen volunteers “adopt” the library each week to ensure that it is neat, undamaged, and well-stocked.

Emma Clark Library has hosted the Little Free Library at West Meadow Beach in July and August since 2016, to inspire beachgoers to read, share, and reuse. There is no need to live in Three Village to participate, as long as you are a visitor of the beach. The Town of Brookhaven and Environmental Educator Nicole Pocchiare have once again graciously given their consent for Emma Clark to host the Little Free Library at the beach.

Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich attended the re-installation and remarked, “I was thrilled to have attended the 8th annual installation of a Little Free Library at West Meadow Beach! As a firm believer of the power of reading and learning, I’m excited to see this resource available to the community again. Thank you Director Ted Gutmann, Jen Mullen, Lisa DeVerna, and Emily Ostrander from the Emma Clark Library for making this all happen.”

Little Free Libraries have become an international phenomenon since their inception in 2010, and Little Free Library was established as a nonprofit organization in 2012 in Wisconsin. According to the official Little Free Library website, there are over 150,000 registered book-sharing boxes across the United States and 120 countries worldwide. Emma Clark’s Little Free Library at West Meadow Beach is registered on www.littlefreelibrary.org and can be found on the site’s official map of all Little Free Libraries.

“Emma Clark Library is happy to promote literacy outside the walls of the building and help our neighbors discover new books. Whether it be a hot summer day or a beautiful, breezy sunset, the Little Free Library simply enhances the already beloved West Meadow Beach here in Three Village,” said the press release.