By Sara-Megan Walsh

In a technological era where some argue books are obsolete, The Smithtown Library is asking taxpayers for funding to expand its hours to meet patrons’ demands.

The Smithtown Library will hold a vote on its $14.6 million proposed 2018 budget Oct. 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The proposed budget represents an overall $300,000 budget increase from 2017.

Robert Lusak, director of The Smithtown Library, said the proposed budget takes aim to increase the number of hours at its four branches, increase programming and maintain and improve its current facilities.

More than $10.7 million of the library’s annual budget is set aside to cover employees’ salaries and benefits with the proposed budget containing a $150,000 increase over 2017.

“With four buildings, we will have the largest staff. When you have an operating budget in a service-driven industry, the bulk of your budget is salaries.”

—Robert Lusak

“We are the largest library on Long Island,” Lusak said. “With four buildings, we will have the largest staff. When you have an operating budget in a service-driven industry, the bulk of your budget is salaries.”

The library district does have a policy of replacing retiring employees, or those leaving, with entry-level workers in efforts to reduce the impact on payroll, according to library treasurer Joanne Grove.

More staffing will be required next year if a new pilot program offering extended hours on Friday nights continues to be successful, according to Lusak. Since Labor Day, the Smithtown Branch has stayed open an additional three hours on Fridays, pushing back its closing time from 6 to 9 p.m.

“Each week we’ve stayed open beyond 6 p.m. on a Friday night, the number of visitors keeps climbing because of word-of-mouth and publicizing it on social media,” the director said.

Based on patrons’ response, Lusak and Grove said they are currently leaning toward making a recommendation to library board trustees that all the other three branches — Commack, Kings Park and
Nesconset — should stay open Friday nights starting in 2018.

This year, the library pushed its opening time to 9:30 a.m., previously doors unlocked at 10 a.m, to allow visitors to come by earlier.

Inside the Smithtown Library. File photo

The proposed budget includes an additional $68,000 funding increase, for a total of $344,000, toward equipment and capital outlays. The funds will go toward ensuring updated computers and equipment is available at the library, according to  Grove.

“Our [computer] terminals are always full with patrons,” Grove said. “We also have 3D printers in each of our library buildings, which has generated a lot of interest from the public.”

To better serve guests, Lusak said the 2018 budget also includes funds to upgrade lighting and improve parking at the library’s four branches. The district also hopes to obtain a new generator as part of its emergency response plan.

If approved, the proposed 2018 budget would result in a $6.40 increase, or $313.47 per year, for the homeowner with an assessed property value of $5,500. Residents looking to calculate library taxes on their home should divide their assessed value by $1,000, take the resulting number and multiply it by 56.994. Further video instructions can be found on the library district’s website at

On the ballot, residents can choose from four candidates running for three seats on the library’s board of trustees. The candidates are Brianna Baker-Stines of Smithtown, incumbent Louis Frontario of Fort Salonga, incumbent Rudy Zientarksi of Smithtown and incumbent William Zimmerman of St. James. A biography for each of these individuals can be found online at