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Ted Gutmann

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

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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library has already collected more than 60 gowns for its upcoming Project Prom Dress event. By Lisa DeVerna

Three Village residents are teaming up with the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library to help students have the prom of a lifetime.

One of the dresses that will be available on the day of the prom gown shopping event. Photo by Lisa DeVerna

On March 9, the library will debut a one-day shopping event called Project Prom Dress where teenagers can walk away with a free gown. Irene Berman, a retired Minnesauke Elementary School teacher, said she was watching a television show featuring a segment about teenagers purchasing prom gowns for a small fee at a library in Parsippany, New Jersey. The dresses were collected by the library’s friends group to help students in need.

“It was so uplifting,” Berman said. “I was actually crying watching it.”

The retired teacher thought it was a good idea to bring to her own area, and she and Kathryn Hunter, who currently teaches fifth grade at Minnesauke, presented the proposal for a prom boutique where students can get dresses for free to a library board trustee.

Library Director Ted Gutmann said the board thought it was a good idea and then formed a team that includes Nanette Feder, teen services librarian; Lisa DeVerna, public relations and community engagement; and Jen Mullen, librarian and public relations.

Berman said the boutique will be opened to residents and nonresidents and is ideal for those on a tight budget or those who want to go green by wearing a recycled dress instead of buying a new one that will most likely only be worn once. Feder added the boutique is also a good opportunity for younger students who are being invited to the senior prom for them to save money on a gown.

The teen services librarian said the library started collecting dresses Jan. 1, and they already have more than 60.

“I’m looking forward to having the students coming in and seeing what the community donated,” Feder said.

“I’m looking forward to having the students coming in and seeing what the community donated.”

— Nanette Feder

Berman said she and Hunter recently visited stores in Stony Brook Village Center to see if any businesses could donate racks to hold the dresses. Ann Taylor Loft, Madison Niche and Chico’s managers offered racks. Once Chico’s manager heard they were trying to help 60 students, she said she will look into the store donating necklaces for each of the promgoers.

In addition to local stores and residents donating dresses, Feder said the night before the prom boutique event, teens will help sort through the dresses and accessories, earning community service credits for their time.

Gutmann said based on the number of dresses received and the response of residents so far, he is optimistic about the prom event and is grateful to Berman and Hunter for reaching out to the library.

“It shows that our community is active in these kinds of things and wants to help out,” Gutmann said.

Residents and nonresidents can drop off prom gowns and accessories at the library through Feb. 14, and donation racks are located in the library lobby. Dresses must be cleaned and in excellent condition with no stains or tears, and the garments must be brought in on a hanger. Purses, shoes, jewelry and other prom accessories will also be accepted.

The library will hold the shopping event Project Prom Dress in the Vincent O’Leary Community Room March 9. Students can schedule an appointment for the Prom Dress Boutique where they can check out the donated prom gowns, try them on and take one home free of charge. Each shopper is limited to one guest to assist them.

Registration begins Feb. 4 for Three Village residents and Feb. 19 for nonresidents, if spots are still available. Snow date is March 23. To reserve a time slot, call 631-941-4080, ext. 127. The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is located at 120 Main St., Setauket.

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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library recently received a grant to reimburse the cost of adding LED fixtures and bulbs in its building. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

In the days of Kindle, one senator recognizes libraries still play a major part in communities.

Recently, state Sen. John Flanagan (R) announced that four libraries in his district, including Setauket’s Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, would be receiving state funding to offset the cost of construction projects.

“Public libraries are more than books — they are community centers that provide valuable programs and services,” Flanagan said in a statement. “They are a proven resource for residents of all ages and we need to continue to work with the leaders of these facilities to provide them with the funding they need to fulfill their mission.”

The construction grants, which were allocated in the 2017–18 state budget for public library construction and broadband infrastructure projects, total $209,638, and are administered by the New York State Education Department and the New York State Library, according to a statement from Flanagan’s office.

Emma Clark Library received $9,638 for the installation of energy-efficient LED fixtures and bulbs. Ted Gutmann, library director, said the LED project is already complete, and the grant is a reimbursement for the project cost.

“This is win-win for our patrons who won’t have to directly fund the project, and at the same time will get a more efficient library that will help save them money for years to come,” Gutmann said. “Senator Flanagan’s efforts in supporting libraries are much appreciated, and on behalf of the board of trustees and myself, thanks again for being a friend of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library.”

The Legislature approved an additional $34 million in funding for projects as part of the 2018–19 state budget. The approved projects for that funding will be announced in the summer of 2019, according to the statement.

From left, Eliana Sasson, Nicole Freeley, Rebecca Blumenthal, Samuel Kim

On Monday evening, April 23, Emma Clark Library, 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 to honor the winners of the fourth annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award.

At the ceremony in the Vincent R. O’Leary Community Room, Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of Helen Stein Shack, presented all of the winners a bound copy of their book. In addition, the books will be added to the library’s Local Focus Collection.

 A $400 scholarship was awarded to first-prize winner Rebecca Blumenthal of R.C. Murphy Jr. High School for her children’s book, “Racing Star,” and Ward Melville High School student Nicole Freeley for her book titled “Wally’s Wild Ride.” 

A $100 check for second prize was awarded to P.J. Gelinas Jr. High School student Eliana Sasson for her book “This Is How I Can Help! 10 Ways I Can Help My Community!” and Ward Melville High School student Samuel Kim for his informative children’s book, “Freddy the Fish and His First Election Day.” 

Gutmann explained that the event “really helps us to showcase the wonderful talent we have here, and we thank the authors and their parents for encouraging that and being here tonight.”

Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), and Carol Nucci [representing Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport)] spoke at the event, and the winners also received certificates from Flanagan, Hahn and Cartright.  

Library Board Treasurer Deborah Blair and Trustee Richard Russell were there to congratulate the winners and Three Village school district BOE President William Connors, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Scanlon, Ward Melville High School Principal Alan Baum, Ward Melville High School Librarian April Hatcher, Murphy Jr. High School English Department Chair Cathy Duffy and Murphy Jr. High School Librarian Betsy Knox were all in attendance.

The Helen Stein Shack Picture 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 of an author and an illustrator. The award is given in memory of Helen Stein Shack by her family.  

“As Ms. Shack clearly knew, children’s literature does a lot for the community, as well as the young children themselves. It helps to promote brain development, it helps to promote language development, literacy skills, as well as creating an important bonding moment for families,” said Cartright.

Two of the grandsons of the late Helen Stein Shack also spoke at the ceremony. Regan Kelly flew all the way from California for the event. Tamir Taylor grew up in Three Village and attended Murphy Jr. High School and Ward Melville High School.  

“A lot of people thank us a lot for creating this event,” mentioned Taylor. “But we really want to thank you guys because our grandmother, mother, was really important to us and by you guys participating and making this event happen and the library for making this happen, you guys give us the opportunity to remember and honor her, which is really special to us.”

The Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award brings together a large part of the Three Village community — the library, school district, local elected officials, teenagers and their families and all of the children that read these books. As Hahn remarked, “What a great way to encourage teenagers to think about … what’s important to them and how to express that in a way that will resonate with children.”  

 

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. File photo by Michael Ruiz

By Rita J. Egan

Three Village’s approval was overwhelming.

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.”

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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library recently received a grant to reimburse the cost of adding LED fixtures and bulbs in its building. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

By Rita J. Egan

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.”

The library provides an educational and cultural resource for all ages in the Three Village area. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

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.