After two summers of adjusting to safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic, the East Meadow Public Library is turning a page toward in-person and online programs to entertain and educate people of all ages.
The Summer Reading Program has always been at the core of the library’s summer plans. This year’s theme is “Oceans of Possibilities,” with story times, shows, crafts and live sea creatures.
Children up to fifth grade can participate. It is a free-form system, encouraging kids to choose their own books and find a passion for reading. While schools have specific curriculums and book selections to fulfill their educational missions and agendas, the library wants to push a love of reading.
The children’s room is filled with books of many genres that all kids can enjoy. Younger children receive a sticker book to track their progress, and older children get a lanyard and collect reading badges over the summer.
All that is needed to participate is a library card. The kickoff event on Thursday was scheduled to feature a performance by entertainer the Magic of Amore.
There are significant changes to the library since its renovation began in 2017. Reopening last September, it has been called a pleasant and welcoming place for community members.
“I like how bright everything is now,” parent and East Meadow resident Beethoven Bong said. “Before when we went, it was really dark and it felt like an old library. Now it feels like an open space that is inviting.”
The new garden, maker space, community auditorium, and other additions have allowed for unique opportunities to learn and have fun.
“The library isn’t just a place to take out books. It’s a meeting place,” comedian and host of Laughs at the Library Mark Brier said. Every month since September 2004, Brier has run an open mic at the library that is geared towards seniors. People join the free stand-up session both in-person and on Zoom as a way for people who usually do not go to comedy shows, to experience them.
“If they don’t like the show, we give them double their money back,” Brier joked. “The greatest reward I have ever received was when someone came up to me after a show and said ‘my friend brought me here today and said I need to laugh. This was the first time I laughed since my husband died.’ We do a real service and it’s fun.”
Patrons of the East Meadow Library can request material delivered to their door. Homebound individuals can now participate in many events the library offers.
Young Adult section librarians Ilona Sayan and Mary Ellen Fosso began the service at the start of the pandemic and it is still available to those who need it. “It was life-saving for me,” Sayan said. “It was a way to connect to all the seniors.” She added that it may have been her favorite work as a librarian.
Since the pandemic began, the library staff provided virtual programming through Zoom. “We are reaching a whole new audience,” Probeyahn noted.
“It was tricky at first. We had to cut reservations in half to maintain social distancing,” Kelly Gordon, a clerk at the Public Relations desk said. “Many people still have not realized that the library is open to the public again.
Programs are filling up fast, Sayan said. “We really foster socialization and encourage kids to connect with others.”
Multi-lingual musical programs offered at the library this summer are provided by Musical duo 123 Andrés and the band along with Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could.
A program that has turned into a yearly tradition at the library is Harry Potter’s birthday celebration on Aug. 1, a day filled with fun and magical events.
“We want people to come in and enjoy the festivities that we offer here,” Gordon said. “Come and learn something new.”