Oceanside Library awarded $166,000 in state aid


The Oceanside Library is poised to benefit from over $166,000 in funding from the state. The financial injection comes as part of a state education department initiative that will distribute a total of $34 million for construction and renovation projects to 197 public libraries across the state.

The announcement was made by Assemblyman Brian Curran, who unveiled the allocation of a portion of the state aid to construction at several local libraries.

“I am very pleased to announce that five of our local libraries will be receiving much-needed funds to renovate,” Curran said in a news release. “Local libraries are invaluable to our communities, as centers for not only reading but learning and exploration as well. Many happy memories are made in local libraries, and I cannot wait to see how they put these funds to great use to better our community.”

The money will be drawn from a capital fund appropriation that was included in the 2022-23 state budget. Among the libraries in Curran’s 21st Assembly District that will benefit in addition to Oceanside are the Baldwin, Freeport, Malverne and Rockville Centre public libraries

The Oceanside facility broke ground on its $33.5 million Vision 2020 project last year, and the work is now expected to be completed next June. It will include basic repairs to windows and roofs; new security features; space dedicated to the study of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, subjects; a new 165-seat theater; and 15,000 additional square feet of space.

The library’s assistant director, Tony Iovino, said the new state aid would be used primarily for the addition of solar panels, and added that the state has the ability to do more to support local libraries.

“While we’re grateful to receive any help, the state treats libraries worse than any other group in the state,” Iovino said. “We’re subject to the same tax cap that the schools are. We get about $9,800 in state aid on a $7 million budget. The county, the town, villages, and the schools get about 20 percent of their budget from state aid. Libraries get less state aid than we were getting in 2008.”

State aid for library construction has not increased since 2018, Iovino said, adding that libraries on Long Island alone need about $200 million for necessary repairs and maintenance. “They have kept the state aid for both the building aid and the construction aid at exactly the same dollar amount,” he said. “It’s insulting.”

Stressing the educational significance of libraries in the state, Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young Jr. underlined the pivotal role they play, and asserted that the state’s investment in library infrastructure is crucial.

“Libraries are a critical part of New York’s educational infrastructure, ensuring that all New Yorkers have equitable access to lifelong learning opportunities,” Young said in a press release. “This capital investment keeps our public library buildings accessible and vibrant so that they can meet the evolving needs of our communities now and long into the future.”

A key emphasis is renovations geared toward enhancing accessibility for patrons with disabilities. Additionally, projects aimed at extending library services to those living in economically disadvantaged and geographically isolated communities are given high priority.

“We handle the most at-risk population, whether it’s special-needs adults or kids, whether it’s seniors, or people who need help with computers to apply for jobs,” Iovino said. “We provide all of that and the state just ignores us. I understand that the politicians are … happy to announce these grants, but … they’re not helping us. We’re happy to receive the money, but it doesn’t overshadow the fact that we have been treated very poorly by the state.”