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Ted Gutmann

Photo by Abigail Choi/ Councilmember Kornreich's office

The delicious aroma of fresh coffee filled the air as Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket held a ribbon cutting for its new Level Up Kitchen Library Café on Jan. 7. 

Library board members and staff, Level Up Kitchen Library Café owner Chelsea Gomez, Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, architect John Cunniffe, and Thomas Pirraglia of Urban Village Contracting, Inc., were all in attendance.

Library Director Ted Gutmann thanked everyone involved in the entire three-part construction project.”We stayed open the whole time [during construction]. We didn’t have to close…[the cafe] has been open now a few weeks, and it’s been very popular with our patrons.” 

“Seeing the library evolve and meeting the changing needs of the community is very heartening, and this place continues to be very relevant and continues to be the absolute heart of this area,” said Councilmember Kornreich.

Library patrons will be able to grab a quick snack on-the-go, or stay for a bite to eat and enjoy a more leisurely experience at the library in the new, indoor seating area adjacent to the historic 1892 reading room. Café customers will also have access to the outdoor seating terrace, which opened in August 2022 and looks out over the library’s beautifully landscaped grounds and the historic Setauket Village Green.

The extensive menu features soup of the day, wraps, grilled cheese, frittatas, bagels, croissants, and rolls as well as scones, cookies, brownies and cakes. Drinks include hot and iced coffee, hot and iced tea, hot cocoa and more with many nut-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.

Pictured at the ribbon cutting, from left, are Joan Kahnhauser (Head Adult Services Librarian), Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Chelsea Gomez (Level Up Kitchen Library Café owner), Angeline Yeo-Judex (Library Board Member), Ted Gutmann (Library Director), Anthony M. Parlatore (Library Board Member), Suzanne Shane (Library Board Secretary), Linda Josephs (Library Board Member), John Cunniffe (Architect), Linda Pirraglia, Thomas Pirraglia (Urban Village Contracting), and Lisa DeVerna (Library Marketing & Communications Manager).

Operating hours for the café are Mondays  to  Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, please call 631-941-4080 or visit www.emmaclark.org/cafe/.

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.

Chelsea Gomez of Level Up Kitchen with Emma S. Clark Memorial Library Director Ted Gutmann. Photo from Emma Clark library

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library Board of Trustees has announced that they have selected a food and beverage vendor to operate the library’s new café which is slated to open later this summer. The vendor selected is Level Up Kitchen, a local business currently operating out of the Flowerfield complex in St. James.  Level Up Kitchen was selected from a pool of candidates that responded to the library’s recent request for proposal for a vendor to operate the café.

Level Up Kitchen is owned and operated by Three Village native and chef Chelsea Gomez.  Gomez graduated from Pennsylvania College of Technology with a degree in Culinary Arts in 2006, and prior to founding Level Up Kitchen Gomez was executive chef at Pentimento Restaurant in Stony Brook, which closed in 2021. Gomez is fully invested in the Three Village community, having grown up in Setauket, and she is currently raising her young family here. 

Drawing on her formal culinary education, current business operations, and her many years of experience as a chef, Gomez possesses extensive knowledge of food safety and how to prepare fresh, healthy, handcrafted fare that meets a variety of dietary restrictions. She plans to include items at the library café that include nut-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan, avoiding cross contamination with allergens. In addition, all of her employees will be Suffolk County Department of Health-certified food managers.

Moreover, Gomez places importance on sustainability, working with local farms and purveyors where possible to stimulate the local economy and provide the freshest, high-quality ingredients. She runs her businesses in an environmentally friendly manner, using biodegradable, post-consumer, and recyclable packaging and utilizing equipment that has low waste and high value, such as an energy-saving coffee machine and energy-efficient refrigerator.

Library patrons will be able to grab a quick snack on-the-go, or stay for a bite to eat and enjoy a more leisurely experience at the library.  Construction began on the new café at the library earlier this year and will include a new, indoor seating area adjacent to the historic 1892 reading room. Café customers will also have access to the outdoor seating terrace, which opened in August 2022 and looks out over the library’s beautifully landscaped grounds and the historic Setauket Village Green. The library and Gomez hope to have the café operational later this summer, once staff are trained and all required permits have been issued.

A creative writing and drawing contest that started back in 2014 at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket is still going strong in 2023. 

Each year, those in grades 7 to 12 who reside in the Three Village Central School District let their imaginations flow and create an original picture book for children in hopes of winning this esteemed prize. 

On April 24, Emma Clark Library board members and staff, the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, local elected officials, representatives from the Three Village Central School District and The Stony Brook School, and guests from the community gathered at the Library to honor the winners of the ninth annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Awards.

First prize in the Grades 7 to 9 category was awarded to Julia Hou, a 9th grader at  Gelinas Junior High School for her children’s book titled Boston Santa while Celia Gordon, a homeschooled 11th grader, captured first prize in the Grades 10 to 12 category for her book Sleeping Till Spring.

Caroline Qian, an 8th grader at Gelinas Junior High School, won second prize for her children’s book Cutie the Duck in the Grades 7 to 9 category and Amelia Grant, a 12th grader at The Stony Brook School, snagged second prize in the Grades 10 to 12 category for her book Lily’s Snowman.

Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, presented all of the winners’ books, bound and added to the Library’s Local Focus Collection, along with $400 checks to first prize winners and $100 checks for second prize winners.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Brookhaven Town Clerk Kevin LaValle (representing Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine), and staff members from NYS Senator Anthony Palumbo and NYS Assemblyman Ed Flood’s office were all in attendance to present certificates to the four authors.

Addressing the winners, Leg. Hahn remarked, “You clearly have talent and that’s what storytelling is…it’s sharing what’s in your heart for others to enjoy and learn from.” 

Councilmember Kornreich told all of the authors what he enjoyed the most about each book and added, “Art is a powerful language … I’m sure all of you will one day have the power to change people’s hearts and change people’s minds and to change the world.”

Town Clerk LaValle added, “It’s amazing what you did. You should be so proud of yourselves.”

Library Board President Christopher Fletcher, Vice President Carol Leister, Treasurer David Douglas, and Trustee Deborah Blair along with Three Village Central School District Trustee Jennifer Solomon, Superintendent Kevin Scanlon, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Brian Biscari, Gelinas Junior High School Principal Corinne Keane, Gelinas Junior High English Chair Michelle Hanczor and the Assistant Head of School at The Stony Brook School, Will Lingle were in attendance to congratulate the winners.

Guests enjoyed special treats donated by The Bite Size Bake Shop, a local Three Village-owned business.  Library teen volunteer Jack Dennehy photographed the event.

Library Director Gutmann expressed gratitude to the children of the late Mrs. Shack, who cover the cost of the awards as a tribute to their mother and her commitment to passing along the importance and joy of reading for generations to come. “We appreciate the support of all the family [of Helen Stein Shack] for their generosity in establishing this endowment and for their encouragement of literacy in our community,” he said.

In light of the fact that all of the winners were female this year, Sherry Cleary, one of the daughters of the late Helen Stein Shack, spoke of her mother, not just a mom, grandmother, or teacher, but as a woman:

“She was an amazing woman when being an amazing woman was not encouraged and not acknowledged and not a thing, she came up in an era where women had a lack of opportunities. She was brave, gutsy and really looked convention in the eye, in the face, and decided to do what was in her heart and in her soul. I leave you with that. Be brave. Be gutsy. You already are because you put yourselves out there and did this amazing work.”

See more photos from the event online at www.tbrnewsmedia.com.

The winners, sitting, take a photo with elected and school officials who attended the April 12 event. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library board members and staff, the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, local elected officials, representatives from the Three Village Central School District, and guests from the community gathered on April 12 to honor the winners of the eighth annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award:

First Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category): “Pete the Penguin Goes to the Library” by Matthew Blumenthal (9th grader at Murphy Junior High School)

First Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category): “The Raccoon Jug-Band” written by Amelia Grant and illustrated by Anna Grant (homeschooled 10th and 11th graders)

Second Prize (Grades 7 – 9 category): “The Big Carrot” by Julia Hou (8th grader at Gelinas Junior High School)

Second Prize (Grades 10 – 12 category): “Mareld” by Ammella Een (homeschooled 12th grader)

Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, presented all of the winners’ books — bound and added to the library’s Local Focus Collection — along with $400 checks to first prize winners Matthew Blumenthal and Amelia Grant and Anna Grant and $100 checks for second prize winners Julia Hou and Ammella Een.

State Sen. Mario Mattera, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright, county Legislator Kara Hahn, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich were all in attendance to present certificates to the winners from New York State, Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town, respectively.

Many of the speakers discussed the wonderful talent and bright futures of these winners. Englebright said, “We get a preview here, actually, of the future. And because young people who dare to dream, and in this case, put those dreams to paper and make it into art and literature, that is the future and it is reassuring.”

Romaine said, “We have some authors here this evening who are young in age, but wise in experience.” 

Library Board President Deborah Blair, Vice President Christopher Fletcher, Treasurer Carol Leister, Secretary Dave Douglas, and trustees Orlando Maione and Suzanne Shane were there to congratulate the winners.  Three Village Central School District Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Kevin Scanlon, Murphy Junior High Principal Brian Biscari, Murphy Junior High English Chair Jessica Metrio, and Murphy Junior High School Librarian Betsy Knox, and Ward Melville High School Librarian April Hatcher were all in attendance. 

Treats were donated by The Bite Size Bake Shop, a local Three Village-owned business. Ward Melville High School teen volunteer Raymond Lang photographed the event.

The Helen Stein Shack Book Contest called for teens in grades 7 through 12 who live in the Three Village Central School District to create a children’s picture book.  Each entry could be the work of a single author/illustrator or a collaborative effort between an author and an illustrator.

“You accomplished something so incredible, and I just want to say congratulations to all the winners,” Mattera said.

The children of the late Shack established a substantial endowment with the library to cover the cost of the awards as a tribute to their mother and her commitment to passing along the importance and joy of reading for generations to come. Kornreich said that Shack not only created a legacy of her family members, but also the legacy of the books that come out of this contest.

Shack’s son, Ed Taylor, spoke about a milestone in their family this past year — the birth of the first great grandchild of the late Helen Stein Shack.

“She’s going to be sitting on our laps, and we’ll be reading her the books that were inspired by this competition that’s in the name of this little girl’s great grandmother, who she didn’t get a chance to meet, but who she’ll have that connection through these books … we thought we were giving a gift to the library, but the library really gave us a gift.”

Emma Clark Library board members and staff, the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, elected officials, representatives from the Three Village Central School District, and guests from the community gathered virtually on Monday, April 20, to honor the winners of the 2020 & 2021 Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award.

The Helen Stein Shack Book Contest called for teens in grades 7 through 12 who live in the Three Village Central School District to create a children’s picture book. Each entry could be the work of a single author/illustrator or a collaborative effort between an author and an illustrator.  The contest was divided into two grade categories, grades 7 through 9 and grades 10 through 12, with one First Prize Winner and one Second Prize Winner selected from each group.  

Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of Helen Stein Shack, presented a slideshow celebration highlighting each of the winners and their books. The winners were a mix from Ward Melville High School, Gelinas Junior High School, R.C. Murphy Junior High School and a local homeschool student.  

2020 Winners:

In the grades 7 to 9 category, first prize  went to Celia Gordon (last year an 8th grade homeschooler) for her picture book titled Oliver’s Walk.

First Prize in the grades 10 to 12 category was won by Rebecca Blumenthal (last year an 11th grader at Ward Melville High School) for her book, Your Part.

Second Prize  in the grades 7 to 9 category was awarded to Ricky Herling and Ashton Hopkins (last year both 8th graders at Gelinas Junior High School) for The Knight and the Monster.

Second Prize in the grades 10 to 12 category went to Riley Meckley (last year a 10th grader at Ward Melville High School) for How Tom Talks.

2021 Winners:

In the grades 7 to 9 category, Julia Garcia-Diaz and Lea A. Nekrasov (8th graders at Gelinas Junior High) captured first prize for their picture book titled Alice Helps.

First Prize in the grades 10 to 12 category went to Rebecca Blumenthal (12th grader at Ward Melville High School) for her book titled A New Normal.

Second Prize in the grades 7 to 9 category was won by Matthew Blumenthal, an 8th grader at Murphy Junior High, for Frankie Gets Stuck.

Second Prize for the grades 10 to 12 category was awarded to Matthew Marchese (10th grader at Ward Melville High School) for Peanut’s Passion.

The library had all of the winning entries bound and made into hardcover books. The winners received copies of the books, along with monetary awards from an endowment created by the Shack family ($400 for first prize and $100 for second prize; in a case of two students collaborating on the book together, prizes are split). The winning books will be on display in the Library’s lobby for the month of May, and then they will be added to the Library’s Local Focus Collection.

The community is grateful to the children of the late Mrs. Shack, who have established a substantial endowment with Emma Clark to cover the cost of the awards as a tribute to their mother and her commitment to passing along the importance and joy of reading for generations to come. 

Mrs. Shack’s daughter, Sherry Cleary mentioned, “Our mother knew that a love of reading nurtured children’s souls as well as their brains.”

New York State Senator Mario Mattera was there to congratulate the winners, “I commend everyone for their hard work.” 

Senator Mattera, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, and Councilman Jonathan Kornreich spoke at the event, as well as sent certificates from the state and town to all of the winners. Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn also sent certificates and personalized letters to all of the winners (Legislative Aide Alyssa Turano was in attendance at the ceremony). 

“The ability to write and express your ideas is going to be such a valuable skill, and I have every confidence that you here who are recipients of this award are destined for great success,” said Councilman Kornreich.

Library Board President Deborah Blair and Vice President Christopher Fletcher were on the Zoom event to virtually applaud the winners. Three Village Central School District Trustee Deanna BavInka, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich, Gelinas Junior High School Principal Corinne Keane, R.C. Murphy Junior High School Principal Brian Biscari, Gelinas Junior High School English Chair Michelle Hanczor, R.C. Murphy Junior High School English Chair Cathy Duffy, and Ward Melville High School Librarian April Hatcher were all in attendance.

Ms. Cleary, Helen Shack’s daughter, an expert in child development and education as the University Dean in Early Childhood Initiatives at the City University of New York, summed the honor up nicely:

“Every year my siblings and I are overwhelmed at the talent that emerges — it is almost impossible to select winners. We recognize the generosity, wisdom, artistry, and sensitivity each author displays in their book. And this year is no different, except that this year the external forces were very different. Between a global pandemic and some of the most disturbing hate crimes and violence of your young lives, you have shown us there is a reason to hope and to look to the future with optimism. We know that our mother would be so moved by your talent, drive and tenacity — and so are we!”

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, located at 120 Main Street in Setauket and on the web at www.emmaclark.org, provides public library service to all residents of the Three Village Central School District.

By Melissa Arnold

After a long, eerily quiet spring that forced the majority of public places to close, life is getting back to normal on Long Island. Slowly but surely, area libraries are opening their doors to patrons eager to browse and borrow.

“At 10 a.m. on July 6 when the first person walked through our doors and said, ‘It’s good to be back,’ I felt wonderful,” said Carol Albano, director of the Harborfields Library in Greenlawn. “One of our regular patrons walked over to our new book area and put her arms out and said, ‘I just want to hug all the books.’”

It’s a sigh of relief shared by librarians around the Island, especially given that when they closed their doors in March, there was no telling how or when they’d be able to open them again.

“Closing the building during the New York State shutdown felt surreal; it was new territory for everyone involved,” recalled Debbie Engelhardt, director of the Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station. “The staff and I immediately set about establishing work-from-home stations so we could maintain strong services, programs, and communication with the public and with each other in our day-to-day operations.”

Throughout history, libraries have continually needed to broaden the scope of their services to keep up with the community’s habits and interests. For example, in addition to books and periodicals, libraries offer community programs, tutoring, music, movies, video games, museum passes, audiovisual equipment and much more.

During quarantine, many libraries made their first foray into the world of livestreaming and video conferencing. From read-alongs and book discussions to cooking demos, yoga hours and gardening lessons, library staff continued to bring people together in socially distant ways.

And while this technology will remain a part of the new normal — e-book borrowing numbers are higher than they’ve ever been in Suffolk County, and many events remain virtual for now — the libraries are thrilled to welcome patrons back to their brick-and-mortar homes.

Of course, things are going to look a little different, and local libraries have new rules and policies in place to keep everyone safe. Here’s a breakdown:

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket is the oldest library in Suffolk County to provide service from its original location. Managing a collection of more than 200,000 items isn’t easy, and director Ted Gutmann said they started planning for reopening almost immediately after the shutdown.

“It was quite an interesting time,” Gutmann said. “It was all I thought about for weeks — how we were going to reopen safely and what it might look like. The state had certain parameters that all public places had to follow, so we used that as a guide as we planned.”

So far, they’ve opted for a conservative approach, allowing patrons to browse and check out materials, but limit activities that promote lingering. Patrons are asked to limit their visit to under 30 minutes. Public seating, some of the computers and all toys in the children’s library have been temporarily removed. Visitors can move throughout the aisles between the book shelves, but should follow directional arrows on the floor similar to those in use at grocery stores. Staff will offer assistance from behind plastic shields.

“Right now, we don’t want to encourage people to spend an extended time here for their own safety,” Gutmann explained. “They are welcome to browse and borrow, then bring their things home to enjoy.”

At the Comsewogue Public Library, reopening has occurred in phases with extensive planning throughout. It’s all been worth it, Engelhardt said,

“Opening the doors again felt like great progress. It was exciting, a big step toward more normalcy,” she said. “Our experience in reopening the building was overwhelmingly positive. We worked hard on our reopening plan, which met all state safety requirements and was approved by the county.”

Curbside pickup of borrowed materials will continue, as it’s a convenient, preferred option for some, but Engelhardt noted the number of in-person visitors has grown in recent weeks.

“Most come in to pick up items they’ve requested, and many are excited to once again enjoy browsing the shelves. Other popular draws are our computers, copiers, and fax services,” she explained.

Some changes: The lounge and study area furniture isn’t available right now, and clear plastic dividers are in place at service desks.

“Other than that, we have the same great circulating collections in print and online, from the traditional (think hot summer bestsellers and movies) to the more innovative (hotspots, Take and Make crafts, Borrow and Bake cake pans),” Engelhardt added.

At Harborfields Public Library, reopening plans began back in April as the staff met for regular Zoom meetings with other area libraries. “Step one was to develop a building safety plan — we met with our head of maintenance and went over each aspect of the building, from the mechanical systems to the physical layout of the furniture and library materials, to ordering personal protective equipment for the staff,” Albano said.

At this time, there is only one chair at each table, every other computer has been removed, and toys and games were temporarily taken out of the children’s area. 

You’ll also find plastic shields at the service desks, and that public restrooms have been installed with automatic faucets and automatic flushing toilets, Albano said.

“All areas of the library are open to the public, including all library materials. The only exception is the public meeting rooms are closed, because at this time we are not holding any in-house programming or meetings,” she added. “Computers are still available in the adult, teen and children’s departments, and soft seating and tables are in each department as well.”

As for borrowed materials, there’s no need to worry about catching COVID-19 from a library book, DVD or CD. Once materials are returned, they are kept quarantined for 72 hours.  Research from the global scientific organization Battelle has shown the virus is undetectable on books and similar items after just one day.

So rejoice, bookworms, and browse to your heart’s content. Your local librarians are ready to welcome you back — masked up, of course.

Individual library policies, event schedules and hours of operation vary and are subject to change — contact your local branch for the most current information. For contact information, database access, and to borrow electronic media including ebooks and audiobooks, visit www.livebrary.com. Please remember to wear a mask and practice social distancing while visiting any library.

All photos by Heidi Sutton

Libraries across Suffolk County will have to deal with changes to the number of e-book copies allowed to them. Photo by Kyle Barr

As the internet has connected the world, libraries across Suffolk County have never been as linked as they are today with both patrons and each other.

The written word is strong, despite claims to the contrary, especially with the proliferation of e-books and audiobooks. Suffolk County’s Library System allows for libraries to request books from fellow libraries and gives access to multitudes of e-books and audiobooks alike, all free on request, barring a wait list.

Some publishing companies are not happy with the status quo.

Macmillan Publishers, an international corporation and one of the top five publishing houses across the globe, announced its intent to limit the number of copies allowed to libraries to one for the first eight weeks of release starting Nov. 1. After those eight weeks, they can purchase “expiring” e-book copies which need to be re-purchased after two years or 52 lends.

The Port Jefferson Library will have to deal with changes to the number of e-book copies allowed to them. Photo by Kyle Barr

While this decision has rocked libraries across the country, in Suffolk County, as the interlibrary program and e-book lending is handled by the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, that will mean one copy of an e-book for the entire system, according to Kevin Verbesey, director of the county library system. Just one e-book license for the whole of Suffolk and its near 1.5 million residents for the first eight weeks of its release.

To add some perspective, Verbesey said a hot new title could have thousands of residents on a wait list for the title, and the county library system usually tries to have one copy of said book for every two or three people requesting it. Like any anticipated piece of media, new and highly anticipated titles are most often sought and bought in those first eight weeks. Following that, barring renewed interest from something like a movie deal, attention begins to wane. Basically, the library system, which would usually purchase hundreds of licenses of that book, will effectively be restricted from having any. 

In socioeconomic terms, Verbesey said it means people who can afford it can buy a book. Those who can’t afford it will have their access restricted.

“In some parts of the county where there’s not great socioeconomic need, people have the option to ‘press buy’ and buy it for $12, but that’s not the case everywhere,” Verbesey said. “Rich people can have it, but poor people can’t.”

The North Shore is one of Suffolk County’s heaviest concentration of library users, the county library system director said. Those patrons could see some of the biggest impact of this decision.

Debbie Engelhardt, the Comsewogue Public Library director, said her patrons are savvy and know when books are set to hit the street, and they depend on the library to have e-book copies available.

North Shore Libray will have to deal with changes to the number of e-book copies allowed to them. Photo by Kyle Barr

“We have a long history of working very hard to get things into people’s hands as quickly as we can,” she said. “Think about a tiny little library someplace, they can buy one, and then all of Suffolk County can buy one. It just doesn’t seem equitable.”

Engelhardt said libraries often have deals to purchase books cheaper than retail price through deals with publishers. They will also create lease agreements to gather numerous copies of whatever is popular at the time, so they are not later burdened with multiple copies of that same tome. 

Ted Gutmann, the director of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, also pointed to the interlibrary loan system, which means not every library will need to purchase every book as long as it’s available nearby. 

E-books, on the other hand, are purchased by libraries for sometimes five times its original asking price. A regular e-book could cost around $12. A library or library system will purchase it at around $50 or $60, according to Verbesey. This is because libraries need to buy the licensing agreement of the copy in order to lend it to multiple people over the course of its license before the agreement expires in a few years. Each publisher has different policies on how long the licenses last and what is the cost for relicensing a product. 

The Suffolk library system has an annual budget of $14 million, with $4 million being spent directly on e-books and for the services of Overdrive, an application used by libraries to distribute their electronic media. E-books currently make up approximately one of every four checkout items from libraries in Suffolk. 

Despite the price of these books, Verbesey said they are happy to purchase what can be hundreds of licenses of that one e-book if there’s demand. This new policy would make it pointless to purchase any copies.

Macmillan did not respond to a request for comment, but in its original July 25 letter to Macmillan authors and agents announcing the change, CEO John Sargent wrote, “It seems that given a choice between a purchase of an e-book for $12.99 or a frictionless lend for free, the American e-book reader is starting to lean heavily toward free … Our new terms are designed to protect the value of your books during their first format publication. But they also ensure that the mission of libraries is supported. They honor the libraries’ archival mandate and they reduce the cost and administrative burden associated with e-book lending. We are trying to address the concerns of all parties.”

The changes came after the corporation tested a 16-week embargo with e-books from its subsidiary Tor Publishing, concluding e-book lending had a negative impact on sales.

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library will have to deal with changes to the number of e-book copies allowed to them. Photo by Kyle Barr

Overdrive CEO Steve Potash condemned the move, calling the company’s original test data faulty adding that very few Tor e-books are available in public library catalogs. He pointed to other studies that showed libraries had no material impact on e-book sales.

Authors published under MacMillan include romance author Nora Roberts, young adult fantasy based in African myth Tomi Adeyemi, and even famous and deceased authors such as C.S. Lewis. The company is also set to publish whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s memoirs this month, which is sure to become a hotly requested item.

And though the libraries have no control over the publisher’s requests, some expect the onus to fall on the individual libraries themselves. 

“When a library serving many thousands has only a single copy of a new title in e-book format, it’s the library — not the publisher — that feels the heat,” said American Library Association President Wanda Brown in a July 25 statement. “It’s the local library that’s perceived as being unresponsive to community needs,” she added.

Engelhardt pointed to data from the national Library Journal’s Generational Reading Survey for 2019, which showed 42 percent of those surveyed purchased the same book they borrowed from the library, and 70 percent bought another book of the same author of a book they borrowed. She added libraries are some of the biggest promoters for individual books, authors and literacy in general, and Macmillan may only be hurting its own brand.

While the limitation on e-book lending won’t be in effect until November, libraries are already preparing to tell their patrons why Macmillan books won’t be available electronically. 

“We’re going to have to explain the publisher is not working with local libraries,” she said.

 

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Emma Clark library decorated this summer for the children’s Summer Reading Club. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library’s budget is projected to increase slightly in 2020, and Three Village school district residents will get a chance to vote on it Sept. 18.

Voters will be asked to approve the library’s 2020 budget of $5,495,366, which is a 1.99 percent increase over the 2019 budget of $5,388,195. While the budget includes an increase of $5,560 in employee salaries, it also consists of a decrease of $37,589 in benefits.

Library Director Ted Gutmann said this past year some full-time Emma Clark employees retired. They were mostly replaced by part-time workers when it was practical, which has impacted salaries and decreased benefits.

Books, e-books, materials, classes and events will see a $51,200 increase in 2020 and building and operations an increase of $6,000. The library’s estimated income for 2020 dips by $82,000.

Orlando Maione, president of the library’s board of trustees, said the board looks for cost-saving methods and applies for grants whenever possible. When the building’s lighting was converted to LED lights, he said it also helped the library save on utility bills. Over the past few years, mechanical equipment has been converted into energy-efficient units which also saves money.

“Whenever we can, we’re constantly looking for ways to save money and not use taxpayers’ money,” Maione said.

The board president said he feels the library and trustees have built trust with residents in that the board will keep costs down.

“Since we all live in the community, and we’re all taxpayers, it’s our money as well,” he said.

Gutmann said he is grateful for the community’s support in the past and feels voting on the budget is important.

“They have the opportunity to voice their opinion,” Gutmann said. “I’m hopeful that they’ll continue to support the library as we’re proposing.”

Registered voters can cast their ballots on the library’s budget between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Sept. 18 in the Periodicals Room of Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, located at 120 Main St. in Setauket.

For more detailed budget information, visit www.emmaclark.org.

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library board members and  staff, the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, local elected officials, representatives from the Three Village Central School District and guests from the community gathered on April 8 to honor the winners of the fifth annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award ceremony.

The contest called for teens in grades 7 through 12 who live in the Three Village Central School District to create a children’s picture book.  Each entry could be the work of a single author/illustrator or a collaborative effort between an author and an illustrator. The contest was divided into two grade categories, grades 7 through 9 and grades 10 through 12, with one first-prize winner and one second-prize winner selected from each group.

Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of Helen Stein Shack, Legislator Kara Hahn and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright presented all of the winners’ books — bound and added to the Library’s Local Focus Collection. 

In addition, $400 checks were awarded to first-prize winners Nicole Xiao, an eighth-grader at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, for her book, “Gerald’s Share” and Juliet Weschke, a 10th-grader at Ward Melville High School for her book, “You Saved the Earth: A Plastic Bottle’s Journey.” Checks for $100 were awarded to the second-prize winners Riley Meckley, a ninth-grader at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, for her book “Lily and Liam’s Summer at the Library” and Nicole Freeley, an 11th-grader at Ward Melville High School, for her book “Simon’s Day at the Beach.” 

The speakers discussed how the contest and ceremony began 5 years ago as a tribute to the late Helen Stein Shack, especially fitting due to her love for learning and her particular fondness for Emma Clark Library. “We would come visit my grandma for a week, and she would take us straight here,” explained Mrs. Shack’s granddaughter Emma Kelly, who flew in from California for the event.

Councilwoman Cartright mentioned to the family that it is “such an amazing way to honor your mom and your grandma’s legacy, her commitment to education, recognizing that literacy is power.” 

Leg. Hahn spoke of the special lessons in each book. “When it’s a children’s book, the message does not only get through to the child. The message also gets through to the parent that’s reading it,” she said.

The winners also received certificates from Sen. John J. Flanagan, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Hahn, Brookhaven Supervisor Edward Romaine, and Cartright. Library board President Orlando Maione, Vice President Deborah Blair, Treasurer Christopher Fletcher, Secretary Carol Leister and trustees David Douglas and Suzanne Shane were also there to congratulate the winners. 

Three Village Central School District board of education President William Connors, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Kevin Scanlon, Gelinas Junior High School Principal Corinne Keane, Ward Melville High School English Department Chair Vincent Cereola, Gelinas Junior High School English Department Chair Michelle Hanczor and Gelinas Junior High School Librarian Nicole Connelly were all in attendance.

Guests enjoyed special treats donated by The Bite Size Bake Shop, a local Three Village-owned business and Ward Melville High School teen volunteer Ashley Mullen photographed the event.

The library is grateful to the children of the late Helen Stein Shack, who have established a substantial endowment with the library to cover the cost of the awards as a tribute to their mother and her commitment to passing along the importance and joy of reading for generations to come.

Mrs. Shack’s son, Ed Taylor, spoke about the hard work and dedication that the winners and all of the participants have shown, and then imagined a glimpse into their futures. “These kids are going to grow up, and hopefully, they’ll have families of their own … and one night their kids are going to be lying in bed and ask for a good night story … and they’ll take a book off the shelf, and they’ll read it to their kids … and then they’ll tell them who the author was. That they wrote that book.”

Added Cartright, “I’m delighted today to encourage you to continue using your creativity to share with others, to uplift others, because that’s what you’re doing by creating these books.”

All photos by Ashley Mullen