Consistently cementing its status as a vital community hub for local residents, the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library exists in a constant state of improvement and evolution, striving to remain at the cutting edge in terms of the technology and services that it offers to its patrons on a daily basis.
Director Gretchen Browne recently took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss some of the latest developments at the library, in addition to giving a preview for some exciting happenings due in the near future.
Browne spoke at length about the library’s exciting and currently on-going summer reading program, which is considered a great success with more than 1,600 young people participating; proof that love of the written word is far from dead in this digital age.
“Every year, to kick off the summer reading program, we have a carnival out in our back parking lot and this year it was busier than ever,” she said. “And once the program is going, we have young people who work in the library who sit and listen to all of the kids give their book reviews and tell them what they think about characters in the books. And the elementary school in the district that has submitted the most reviews by the end of the summer is awarded a trophy.”
However, grown-ups aren’t being left out in the cold when it comes to summer reading programs. Browne noted that their regular “Chew and Chat” events give adults a chance to get together and discuss their favorite recent reads over lunch and refreshments.
In addition, the adult reading program culminates in the awarding of the Mary Licata Reading Prize, named after a beloved, late Plainview-Old Bethpage reference librarian.
There’s also going to be some physical changes happening at the library soon—starting in October of this year, a brand-new roof and heating and cooling system will be installed, Browne said.
“This is going to be a big, $2 million project. We hope to keep the library open during most of the work, but there will be days where we will have to close due to safety issues,” she said. “We’re able to pay for this project right from our own budget because we’ve been proactively saving and watching our expenses over the past three or four years. In fact, this is going to be the third year in a row where we offered a 0 percent increase in our operating budget and we’re very proud of that.”
The library will also expand its technological offers to patrons, Browne said, with the addition of two new streaming services at the end of the summer—Kanopy and Hoopla—which will complement their current music streaming service, Freegal. And all of them will be offered to patrons free of charge.
“Kanopy is an online movie streaming service that features older, independent and art house films that you’ll be able to watch on your phone, iPad, or television if you have a Roku or Apple device,” she said. “Hoopla is a similar type of service, but along with movies you’ll get e-books and music.
In addition, patrons will also be able to download magazines. And all of this will be available through our website.”
Adding to their already impressive array of children’s offerings, Brown noted, this fall will see the addition of a “Creation Station” to the library, offering kids a variety of technological toys that are as educational as they are fun.
“The Creation Station will have 3D printers, iMac computers, 3D doodle pens, and Ozobots, which are small robots that can follow trails and mazes that the children set up a beforehand,” she said. “A lot of the things that the kids use at school will now be available at the library for them to use as well.”
To compliment all of these exciting new additions, the library also still provides it’s reliable, stand-by services that residents have come to know and depend upon.
This includes a wide range of diverse programming, spanning from exercise classes, musical entertainment, movies, defensive driving classes, bus trips, access to free museum passes, theater, special guest lectures, a vast selection of DVDs and CDs, downloadable movies and music, databases full of information, and more. And let’s not forget lots and lots of good, old-fashioned books as well.
Browne also noted the overwhelming success of the library’s quiet study rooms, which are always in constant use from opening to close, every single day that the library is in operation.
While it would be easy to rest on her laurels while patrons enjoy the many amenities they’ve come to expect from the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library, Brown said that maintaining the status quo simply isn’t her style—she’s driven to constantly improve this vital community resource under her care and make sure that it is consistently the most comprehensive boon to local residents that it can possibly be.
“I am a ‘doer.’ I like to be busy and I have a vision for this library. The community of Plainview-Old Bethpage has so many people who are intellectually curious and they want more. I want them to be able to use the library in any and every way possible,” she said.
“We want to be cutting edge, we want to continue exploring new avenues in terms of services and products for our community so that we constantly keep them coming and so we can also attract new and younger crowds that will be our library users of