Library event goes beyond Earth Day


With Earth Day approaching, the East Rockaway Public Library is making efforts to preserve the environment.

Earth Day, on Saturday, will bring together the Lynbrook and East Rockaway public libraries for an on-site shredding event, encouraging  community members to recycle as well as to protect personal information. In addition, the East Rockaway library is growing a variety of plants and vegetables in Memorial Park.

“We’ve been doing this on-site shredding event for at least five years now,” Mary Thorpe, the library’s director, said. “And it’s very popular.”

The Town of Hempstead hosts its own shredding event, but Thorpe saw the need for a more local event. She joined forces with the Lynbrook Public Library to host it, in the interest of making it more accessible for East Rockaway and Lynbrook residents.

“We get about a hundred people each time we host this event,” Thorpe said.

The East Rockaway library contracted with a company that brings a shredding truck to the site, and people are encouraged to bring their documents and any old files and papers to be shredded.

“Usually the truck brings a big garbage bin and everyone dumps their stuff in there,” Thorpe explained. “And they can watch the stuff be lifted up to the truck and shredded.”

According to Thorpe, some of the people who attended previous events were retired doctors and accountants. “They have to destroy their files eventually, after so many years,” she said. “And it saves them quite a bit of money to be able to come here and do it at the library.”

The library doesn’t limit its environmentally friendly activities to shredding, hosting other events that incorporate recycling and other less wasteful practices.

“We’re giving out seeds for plants, flowers, lettuce, tomatoes, and basil,” Thorpe said. “And then we’re actually going to be creating a pollinating garden in Memorial Park.”

According to Thorpe, the premise of this garden is to create a “pollinator highway.”

“We’re trying to make a plant seed highway so people down in Bay Park can plant the seeds and then people in East Rockaway and people in Lynbrook plants seeds as well,” Thorpe said. “So this kind of makes a highway for the butterflies and bees to pollinate.”

Heather Massa, librarian at the East Rockaway Public Library, said a low monarch butterfly count is inspired the program “Last summer, the monarch count on Long Island was really low,” Massa said. “Monarchs are an endangered species now and they’re great pollinators.”

The East Rockaway Public Library, along with several other libraries, will create the “pollinator highway” with stops for several monarchs to pollinate encouraging more monarchs to show up. Massa said she hopes this highway helps “boost the monarch population.”

Massa said the Village gave the library a nine square foot area in Memorial park for the “small, organic, pollinator friendly garden” with watering stations for butterflies.

Along with the on-site shredding event and the garden, the library is making more strides to be as environmentally friendly as it can. “We try to do events that involve reusable and recyclable crafts,” Thorpe said. Thorpe also explained how the library offers “tote bags for people to reuse all the time so they don’t keep using plastic bags.”

Also, Thorpe will host a book giveaway. “This is so that we can recycle some of the books that we have received and that we don’t need,” she said. “So instead of throwing them out, we’re going to have a book giveaway for National Library Week.”