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Smithtown Library

Pictured from left, Friends Scholarship Chair Agatha Monteleone, Friends President Anthony Monteleone, Taylor Saar and Emerson Cozine

The Friends of The Smithtown Library, a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the Library, has awarded its 15th annual scholarship. This scholarship is awarded annually to graduating  Smithtown Library cardholders. The first place scholarship was presented to Smithtown High  School East graduate Taylor Saar; second place was presented to Smithtown High School East graduate Emerson Cozine.  

Taylor Saar was accepted to Penn State College and the University of Delaware for the fall.  She is no stranger to The Smithtown Library, participating in over 400 hours of volunteer work at  the Nesconset Building including Kindness Cards, Bookmark Volunteers, Washkits, Paracord  Bracelets and more. She also volunteered her time for the Red Cross and Long Island Cares. 

Emerson Cozine will be attending Loyola University Maryland in the fall. She was awarded  the Girl Scout Silver Award, has years of experience volunteering at summer camps and is involved  in leadership activities in her school. 

The Friends, along with The Smithtown Library congratulate these two young women on  this award and wish them much success in their future endeavors. 

 



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Smithtown residents will find 15 candidates vying for three seats when they vote for Smithtown Library trustees on Oct. 11. The election will also include a vote on the 2023 budget.

The number of candidates is the most since Smithtown residents voted for an independent library district more than 20 years ago, according to library director Robert Lusak. In 2001, 20 candidates were running for seven seats.

This year, incumbents Joseph Gregurich and Anita Dowd-Neufeld are among the candidates. Current trustee Marie Gergenti, whose term expires at the end of the year, decided not to run again. 

Brief biographies and mission statements from each candidate are listed on the Smithtown Library website, smithlib.org/library-board-candidates-2022.html.

On Monday, Oct. 3, the League of Women Voters held a Meet the Candidates Night via Zoom, which can be viewed on the library’s YouTube page through smithlib.org/library-vote-and-trustee.html. 

Regarding the trustee elections, Lusak said the desire is to have candidates with “a passion for libraries.”

“I would hope that anybody who runs for the library board cares about their library and wants to make sure that it’s the pillar of the community,” he said.

He added the library’s goal is to ensure “we provide high-quality customer service.”

The library director said previously passed budgets have allowed new services such as a notary public, a patent and trademark research library, a passport facility in the Smithtown building, and Library of Things where cardholders can take out items not expected at a library such as telescopes.

“When our budgets in all the previous years were successfully passed, it allowed us to introduce new technologies and new services that might not exist,” he said.

Recently, Marilyn LoPresti decided to resign from her board position. Due to the timing of the resignation, which would not allow certain deadlines to be met, her seat is not among those up for vote. The board will appoint a person to take over her position. The appointee will run in 2023 and, if successful, will finish out LoPresti’s term, which was scheduled for Dec. 31, 2024.

Residents who are registered voters will have the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to the Smithtown Special Library District’s $17,434,000 proposed budget for 2023. Voting takes place at all library locations from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11.

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A few books in the Smithtown Library children’s collection were part of pride displays that were temporarily removed in the children’s department before the board rescinded an earlier vote. Photo from Smithtown Library Facebook

Within 48 hours, The Smithtown Library Board of Trustees reversed a controversial decision made at its June 21 meeting.

Initially, the trustees voted 4-2, with one member absent, to remove pride displays, which included signs and books, in the children’s sections in its Smithtown, Commack, Kings Park and Nesconset branches. Two days later, the board held an emergency meeting and reversed its decision, again 4-2, with one board member abstaining.

The reversal came after criticism from the community on social media platforms. Among the critics were Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), the New York Library Association and author Jodi Picoult, who grew up in the town and was a page at the library when she was younger. She said on her Facebook page the initial decision “disgusts me and makes me reevaluate an institution that I have praised for being formative in my life as an author.”

The books remained available in the library’s children’s collection during the temporary removal and could be checked out, according to a June 22 memo from library trustees. Pride displays in the adult and teen sections remained.

After the reversal of the decision during the board’s emergency June 23 meeting, another memo was posted to the library’s website announcing the rescinding of the decision.

“The majority of the board recognizes that our earlier decision was made without the time, care and due diligence that a decision of this type deserves and that it was the wrong decision,” the memo read.

No public comments were accepted during the June 23 meeting, which was held via Zoom.

Thomas Maher, vice president of trustees, said at this meeting he supports the LGBTQ+ community’s rights. He said during the June 21 meeting, there was a passionate discussion about the displays, and the subject was discussed for a while. It was discovered there wasn’t a library policy about internal displays. He said his initial vote to remove the displays “was intended to enable the library to continue to offer all of its existing resources to all of its patrons in a peaceful and cooperative manner during this time of transition.” On June 23, he voted for the return of the displays.

Trustee Marie Gergenti voted twice for the removal. She said during the June 23 meeting she received messages from patrons.

“They felt that little children were exposed to some images in some of those books, and they weren’t happy about it,” she said.

Theresa Grisafi, a trustee who also voted twice for the removal, added many felt the displays in the children’s rooms were not age appropriate for young library patrons.

“The concern was for the small children,” she said.

She said she tried to convey that at the initial meeting and said it had nothing to do with anyone’s personal feelings.

Trustee member Marilyn LoPresti abstained from voting on June 23 and said she would like to research the matter further.

Library board president Brianna Baker-Stines said at the June 23 meeting, “We assumed a role that was not our job.”

Baker-Stines added that it was the librarians’ jobs to set up displays and “we need to trust the staff we hired.”

In an email to TBR News Media, Baker-Stines said in order to create a policy regarding internal displays, legal counsel advised that a standing committee for policy creation would first need to be created. While the board has multiple standing committees, the previous ones were only ad hoc. Baker-Stines said during her time on the board the members have only had to amend policies and not create new ones, unless based on an immediate need such as the work-from-home policy adopted at the beginning of the pandemic. She said the members realized it would take several steps to establish a proper committee. 

“We knew that this process might take several meetings, which may be why some trustees were in a rush to remove the pride display that night,” she said.

Initial news coverage reported that the books were removed from the children’s collections when they were not.

“I think the wording on the motion may have led some of the media to believe the books were removed all together,” she said.

Baker-Stines said she “was devastated by the vote to remove the pride displays” and added “the library should be a safe space for every member of the public.” 

As former library page and reference clerk at Hauppauge Public Library, she said, “I have been a part of the creation of many library displays, including Pride month displays. These are materials that can be lifesaving, and also materials that are requested by patrons during this time.”

Currently, the trustees have 900 emails to go through after the community reacted to the board’s initial decision.

David Kilmnick, nonprofit LGBT Network president and CEO, said while the removal of the displays never should have happened, the community’s response “shows the power that we have as a community to do the right thing and that right thing is so simple — it is creating safe learning spaces for all of our children.”

He said the removal of the displays could have a traumatic effect on “someone seeing themselves exist one day and then erased the next and for no good reason other than hate and bias.”

Kilmnick added the community’s response showed an “outpouring of support and love.”

“There are more people on the side of equality, equity, safety and love than on the other side,” he said. “We just all have to work together and not be afraid, and it showed what we can do in a very fast, rapid, effective way when we do this together.”

The pride displays in the Smithtown Library branches will remain until July 15.

The 2022 Dennis Cannataro Music series kicks off with the Just Sixties Band on July 7.

This article has been updated to add one more concert on August 11.

Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta has announced the return of the Dennis Cannataro Family Summer Concert Series to the Smithtown Main Library, 1 North Country Road, Smithtown which start on Thursday, July 7 and run through Aug. 11.

These concerts are made possible by a Suffolk County Omnibus grant obtained by Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta. “The free shows provide a great opportunity for everyone to enjoy themselves, hear some great music and to support our downtown merchants and local restaurants,” said Legislator Rob Trotta.

The concerts are held every Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. Bring a chair or blanket for seating.

The line-up is as follows:

July 7 – Just Sixties (60s)

July 14 – One Step Ahead (Greatest Hits)

July 21 – Petty Rumors (Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty)

July 28 – Endless Summer (60th Anniversary of the Beach Boys)

August 4 – Captain Jack (Billy Joel)

August 11 – The Gold Coast Orchestra (Motown)

For more information or in case of inclement weather on the day of the event, please go to the Smithtown Library’s website at www.smithlib.org or call 631-360-2480 ext.150 after 3 p.m.

Photo from Smithtown Library

On Monday, April 11 the Passport Acceptance Facility celebrated the execution of its 1,000th
passport application. Charles and Angela Fisher of Smithtown were the lucky patrons who made
this appointment to apply for a new passport. They received a travel gift basket as a token of
appreciation for utilizing the Library’s Passport Acceptance Facility.

Pictured from left, Smithtown Building Head and Passport Acceptance Agent Eileen Caulfield, Passport Acceptance Agent William Salas, Charles and Angela Fisher, Assistant Director Patricia Thomson, Passport
Acceptance Agent Andrew Salomon and Passport Acceptance Agent Jessicca Newmark.

The Passport Acceptance Facility opened its doors at the Smithtown Building of The Smithtown
Library in November 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].

 

Join the Four Harbors Audubon Society for a free screening of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea – Ken Burns – EPISODE TWO: 1890 –1915: The Last Refuge (2009) at the Smithtown Library, 1 North Country Road, Smithtown on Friday, Jan. 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Part of the series, The National Parks: Americas Best Idea, this episode tells how, by the end of the 19th century, industrialization had left many Americans worried about whether the country would have any pristine land left. Poachers in the parks were rampant, and visitors were littering or carving their names in wilderness sites. Congress had yet to establish judicial authority or set aside appropriations for protection of the parks.

This sparked a conservation movement by organizations such as the Sierra Club, led by John Muir; the Audubon Society, led by George Bird Grinnell; and the Boone and Crockett Club, led by Theodore Roosevelt. Learn about how America and Americans protected their last national open spaces. Age appropriate from those in middle school to retirees! For the budding environmentalist, and also those curious about how nature and the natural world works. All are welcome, as are questions and comments.

The screening is free and open to all but reservations required. Call Joy Cirigliano at 631-766-3075 or call the Smithtown Library at 631-360-2480, ext. 232, to reserve seating.

By Melissa Arnold

The vast majority of artists will say they are influenced by the work of someone else. Whether it’s a contemporary from their own time or someone from long ago, artists blossom from appreciating and studying others.

This sentiment is held dear by members of the Smithtown Artists Group (SAG), a small network of local artists who gather for creativity and camaraderie alike.

Their friendship began at the main branch of the Smithtown Library, where artists of all backgrounds and skill levels have gathered on Tuesday afternoons to paint, some of them for decades.

“When my kids were in school I ran a lot of arts and crafts programs, and then in their later teens I took a watercolor class,” said Judy Contrino of Stony Brook, who began painting at the library 20 years ago. “Joining the library group was a wonderful experience because there were so many different mediums being used by the people there, and some of them were quite accomplished. I was a self-taught artist. And it’s wonderful to have newcomers improve and show them how they’ve grown. No one is asking you to be Rembrandt — it’s just a place to come, relax and learn from those around you.”

A few years ago, some of the library artists expressed a desire to broaden their horizons and pursue exhibitions. Roughly a dozen people came together to form what is now the Smithtown Artists Group.

With the help of a new website to showcase some of their work online, the group was able to hold exhibits in libraries around Long Island, including Harborfields, Sachem, Kings Park and East Northport. After a long hiatus during the pandemic, they are thrilled to share their work again. Their newest exhibit, A Potpourri of Art, will be on display this spring at the Port Jefferson Village Center.

Featuring more than 80 pieces from 8 artists, the exhibit will feature works done in watercolor, acrylic, oil, colored pencil and more. Each artist has a unique flair and favorite subjects, making it a great fit for art enthusiasts of all kinds.

Carol Kelly of Kings Park spent many years simply appreciating the work of others before trying her own hand at painting. “It wasn’t until I was around 45 that I started learning to paint. I would go to art exhibits and often say, ‘Wouldn’t it be marvelous to be able to create beautiful works of art for other people to enjoy?” she recalled. 

“I started taking watercolor classes, and then some time later saw a listing in my library’s newsletter about the group meeting in Smithtown. I’ve been there for 13 years and enjoy the process of critiquing and learning from one another.”  

Kelly enjoys painting landscapes and scenes from her garden, but occasionally branches out into other subjects, as with a painting of a bird she titled “Looking for Lunch.”

Lucia Alberti of Smithtown has spent the past 10 years painting at the library and was excited to participate in exhibitions with longtime friends in the group. Alberti said that the majority of her work is done in acrylics with a focus on imaginative realism.

“We have a lot of variety in our experiences and what we enjoy doing as artists. Some people teach art and have exhibited before, while others simply enjoy art and being creative,” she said. “We are friends, and we admire one another, which adds another layer of joy to our painting. Getting to do this exhibit together is a very special opportunity.”

The exhibit is a welcome source of joy for the community, too.

“We’re happy to be doing shows again — this is our second exhibit since the pandemic,” said Sue Orifici, head of graphic, archival and special projects at the Port Jefferson Village Center. “There’s a nice mix of art to enjoy in this show and we hope people will stop by and visit.”

Participating artists include Lucia Alberti, Cheryl Cass-Zampiva, Carol Ceraso, Judy Contrino, Ruth Johnson, Carol Kelly, Anita Simmons and Joanie Whalen.

A Potpourri of Art will be on display on the second floor of the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson from March 1 to April 30. Viewing hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For more information about the exhibit, call the Village Center at 631-802-2160. To learn more about the Smithtown Artists Group, visit http://sagartists.wixsite.com/sagartists.

A sign of the times outside Smithtown Town Hall. Photo courtesy of Smithtown Library

The Smithtown Library’s Long Island Room, located in the lower level of the  library’s main branch at 1 North Country Road in Smithtown, invites the community to participate in an important project.

Over the course of the last few months, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have had a dramatic impact on the entire world and our own community. As challenging as these times are, however, it is important to recognize and document the historical significance of this period so that future generations may learn from it.

Ways you can participate include collecting relevant items, keeping a journal reflecting on your experiences and sharing photos and/or videos of the way your life or surroundings have changed.

For more information about this project and collecting examples, please visit https://smithlib.org/documenting​. If you are interested in donating materials to this collection or have any questions, please contact the Long Island Room via email at [email protected]. Please do not bring any materials to the library at this time or before contacting the Long Island Room. For further information, please call 631-360-2480.

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.

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.