The Plainview-Old Bethpage Library, which has been at the heart of the community for 63 years, continues to welcome all walks of life to the facility and provide many important services to help local residents. Gretchen Browne, who has served as library director for more than 14 years, is proud of the growth of the facility over the years.
“We feel like we are one of the biggest, most popular libraries [in the county],” said Browne. “We are open all year round and Sundays until 9 p.m. We get a lot of visitors from other communities because the libraries are closed. We always feel like we are a central hub. I think there’s a lot of people from communities that know about our library.”
The library, located at 999 Old Country Rd., looks to offer a variety of services to the public, from fun events and activities that are held in the 250-seat auditorium and meeting rooms, to the variety of books, movies, music CDs and video games that can be checked out at any time. In recent years, the library has gotten very tech-savvy, providing a plethora of online services for cardholders to check out.
“We want people to recognize these services and avail themselves of them because they are free,” said Browne. “They are paying for them through their tax dollars. So we want them to stop into the library, work with either our technology experts or our reference librarians, become familiar with all of the apps, get a library card and get themselves familiar with what their tax dollars are supporting.”
One of the biggest apps the library partners with is Overdrive, which lets you pick from thousands of e-books right from your device, download one at any time and read it without having to pay a dime. Other important services also include a free music streaming and downloading software known as Freegal and movie streaming apps, Hoopla and Kanopy.
“It’s very important for us to be a half-step before the public,” said Browne. “Everybody is streaming movies that they are paying for. They probably don’t realize they can get a lot of those similar services through the library for free. Lots of people don’t know how to work them themselves. We have a staff that is happy to show them.”
Among the newest technological additions to the library is Maker Space, a STEAM educational tool that gives children to ability to learn important subjects while also providing fun experiences. The library provides puzzles, logic games and coding tools that can bring valuable knowledge to a child even when they are out of school. The library also has a 3D printer, which can be used by filling out a request form and giving it to the Technology Office.
“We have invested a few hundred dollars in new technology so that the children and their families can come in and experience these things when they are not in school,” said Browne. “We try to stay a half-step ahead so we can offer this to our patrons and invite them to try new things. We just started to get things moving in the spring. We try to highlight these things during the summer and then into the fall.”
In addition to the technological advances, the library will be expanding the storytime room to have more space for kids and their guardians to hang out in. The library also will be enhancing their lighting, electronic doors, security systems and PA systems over the course of the next year.
In terms of programs, the library will continue to offer book discussion groups, with one of their newest programs being a current event discussion group that will begin in the fall. They also continue to showcase beautiful works of art in the front lobby that show off the work of various artists throughout the Island. There are also art lectures for those interested in learning the history behind some artists or art styles.
Browne made note that while all the libraries in Nassau County are amazing, she hopes to offer a wonderful, open environment for residents to enjoy.
“It is an absolute honor to be the director of this library,” said Browne. “They deserve the best the public library can give to them. It is the jewel and centerpiece of the community. We invite you all to come in. Our parking lot is large enough to accommodate. We try to offer everything, but if you see something that we don’t offer, tell us. We want to use these tax dollars the way the public wants us to use it.”
For more information on the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library and what it has to offer, visit www.poblib.org.