“I’m a lover of the arts,” Jude Schanzer said, propping her feet up on a bin filled with papers in an office she shares with colleagues at the East Meadow Public Library. “I always wanted to act — I mean, who didn’t want to be a star? — but I was kindly told to stick to playwriting,” she laughed.
Schanzer, 64, the library’s director of public relations and programming for nearly 15 years, will be presented with the Long Island Arts Council at Freeport’s prestigious Arts Recognition Tribute Award on Oct. 8 for her contributions to the arts.
“I grew up in a household that respected and appreciated the arts,” she said. “My mother played the piano, and my father had a beautiful voice. My brother is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker and a poet. We’re just a ball of art-loving freaks, if you ask me.”
Schanzer, who lives in Freeport, began coordinating art and music programs at the library in 2002, after she took the public relations job. Her taste in classical music, foreign films and children’s programming shines through in programs that she coordinates at the library each month.
“I wanted to get some goats,” she said. “Not only would it be cute, but it would be environmentally friendly. They’d eat our grass, and we wouldn’t have to use machines that emit gases to cut the grass.”
“She definitely thinks outside of the box,” Linda Soldeo, the library’s newsletter editor, said with a laugh. Because Soldeo and Schanzer share their office, Soldeo said that patrons often visit or call Schanzer to express their gratitude about music or art programs that she coordinates. “Sometimes she has these crazy ideas — she wanted jugglers to welcome people near the library entrance — but she’s so good at what she does,” Soldeo continued. “The library is very lucky to have someone like Jude, who appreciates the arts and aims to educate our community.”
Schanzer’s educational programs annually draw thousands of patrons to the library. Each year, she coordinates EMCon, an anime festival for which patrons dress up as their favorite Japanese characters while visiting different arts, crafts and educational program stations. The event usually attracts more than 2,500 visitors annually, she said.
Most recently, Schanzer’s eclipse viewing party on Aug. 21 drew nearly 2,000 people from East Meadow and neighboring communities. “We handed out 1,200 pairs of glasses issued to us by NASA,” she said. “We had programs for kids who were just so curious about the eclipse. Adults and kids shared the glasses outside on our lawn. It was really amazing.”
She also started the popular Dessert and Cabaret program at the library, which features international Grammy-winning artists each Sunday.
“Jude is able to introduce the artist to the audience in a more intimate way than any other venue in the area,” Carol Probeyahn, the library director, said. “She educates people day in and day out. She deserves this award because she truly cares about our library and our community.”
“I’m lucky to be working here,” Schanzer said. “This is the best job I could ever hope for. I do this — setting up programs and community outreach — with support from my colleagues. I thank them, my husband and my brother for their support.”