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January 10, 2001

The Freeport Memorial Library
The Jewel of Freeport

by Stewart Lilker

The Freeport Memorial Library (FML) is the Jewel of Freeport. It is one of the oldest libraries on Long Island. It serves a diverse and changing community with a concerned and professional staff. Its statistics will amaze you:

The Library has 213,725 books, 11,981 magazines and newspapers (including microfilm), 23,688 AV items, including about 5,800 Videos and 17,000 CDs, tapes, etc.). Other materials (pamphlets, toys, equipment, etc.), 52,463. The grand total of holdings is 301,857 items.  The library maintains many books and audiovisual items in foreign languages and has a large collection in Spanish in recognition of the large Latino population of the community. Most recently the library has added e-book readers, which are electronic books.


Magazine & Newspaper Subscriptions: The Library currently subscribes to 845 titles in print and microfilm formats, and 2,564 titles in electronic format (INFOTRAC and INFORME), plus database files such as FirstSearch and Dialog@Carl. The Library added many new computerized databases in the past year including: Hoover's - a database providing financial and historical information about companies; Ethnic Newswatch - indexing newspaper articles about and of interest to all ethnic groups; Alternative Heathwatch - a database of alternative medicine; Fax.com  - a database of facts and Multimedia archives - a database of picture archives


Computers: The Library has a total of 57 PCs (37 public; 20 staff), and 21 terminals (11 public, 10 staff) that are dedicated for use with the circulation control system. Of the 37 public PCs, 13 are used for Internet access: 8 in Reference; 1 in the Job and Education Information Center (JEIC) and 4 in the Children’s Room. The Internet access computers in the Children’s room have the Cyberpatrol filtering software. The Children’s Room also has 4 PCs and 2 MACs for educational games and word processing. The JEIC has 6 PCs and 3 MACs for word processing, database software use, and spreadsheet use. There is one additional PC in the JEIC that was placed here from a Nassau Library System citizenship grant to help ESOL students practice their grammar and spoken English.


Library Programs and Use: In 2000, 22,511 people attended 2,345 Library programs. The total annual attendance (Library Visits) was 389,880. Materials were used in the Library 244,705 times, including Reference books and materials, and in-house computer use. Staff in the Reference, JEIC and Children’s Departments answered a total of 91,516 questions.


Handicapped Accessibility: The Library has an active program of book delivery to the homebound. A staff member visits South Shore Healthcare and the Meadowbrook Care Center once a week to provide book-related programs for the residents. Every part of the Library is wheelchair accessible. 


Circulation transactions: In 2000, the Library circulated a total of 280,235 items.

The Library has many departments that are spread throughout the rambling building and many programs that reach out to the community and the world. Many library staff members are bilingual in English and Spanish, enabling easy access of the entire library by the Latino residents of the community.

The Children's Department serves the needs of children in Freeport from early age to 6th grade. The Children's Department provides a collection that reflects the needs of the community, providing books and audiovisual materials in both English and Spanish (and other languages as well), as well as maintaining a Parenting Collection of books and AV materials to help parents. The Children's Department also offers a wide variety of programs for all ages, including bilingual programs. Story times and parenting programs (almost on a daily basis) are offered with publicity in both English and Spanish and now offers a unique literary discussion group led by trained Junior Great Book leaders. Parents of pre-school children are enthusiastic borrowers of the "Reading and Learning Kits" in both English and Spanish. The Children's Department also offers free passes to museums that can be borrowed by a family planning to take their children to a museum. In the photo above is Bob Regan, sharing a quiet moment with his daughters Emily and Catherine. The photo on the right shows the thousands of books and videos in the children's department

The Library's Young Adult Program is coordinated by Kathy Nuding.  Under the guidance of Ms. Nuding, the Young Adult offerings have been increased dramatically during the past few years and include summer reading clubs and cultural and literary programs. 

The outreach program is facilitated by Loren Agostino and Maryellen Cantanno. It is very popular and includes musical groups of interest to various ethnic groups as well as specific programs in Spanish.

The Reference Department is one of the most extensive on Long Island. The goal of the Reference Department is to assist all those in need of information or help. School projects, college papers, genealogy questions, financial information, income tax forms, medical information, and more are all available at FML. The Department subscribes to many stock and mutual fund services including Value Line, S&P Outlook and Dick Davis Digest. Dun's Regional, Moody 's and S&P Corporate and Bond records may be found in the Reference Department. There are eight computers dedicated to Internet use. The Reference staff will train users on an individual basis on Saturday mornings in English or Spanish. An appointment is required. 

If you are interested in legal research the Library has one of the most extensive law collections of any public library on Long Island. The FML is only public library that maintains Law Desk on CD, which is all the NY Court decisions, from the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, down the the Miscellaneous Courts. Also on CD is the complete NYS Statutes, as well as the complete U.S. code, the U.S. Constitution, and the Federal Court Rules. These are also maintained in book form. If legal research is your forte, the FML is the place to go.

Book selection is reflective of the needs of the community. A portion of each month's budget is used for the development of significant African-American and Spanish Collections. In addition the library maintains a large selection of current fiction and non-fiction. Patrons may borrow CD-ROMs, DVDs, videos, audio cassettes and books-on-tape. The reference Librarians are friendly and readily accessible since the redesign of the reference area. They are happy to suggest books to read, music to enjoy or give you a copy of the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle free of charge. In the photo are librarians Ronnie Tiffany and Sue Freelund.

The Job and Education Information Center (JEIC) is located on the lower level. This department contains special collections to help you with your job search, civil service announcements and test preparation study guides, information about local adult education courses, BOCES/Technical School Courses, and college and university information. Job listings are also available through newspapers, postings and the Internet. If you need a job or information about a job the Job and Education Information Center is the place to go. If you need to speak to a career counselor you can make an appointment for individual counseling with the library's career counselor, Lillie Selwyn, who will also help you with writing a resume. 

Also located in the JEIC are IBM and Mcintosh computers. These are available for public use, as are computer program tutorials on videocassettes to help you learn the programs. Many patrons appreciate that the library's JEIC computers are loaded with word processing, data base and spreadsheet software. There is also a computer hooked up the the Internet that is available for job searching.

The JEIC staff has recently delved into the world of document managment technology. The library is now scanning Village Board, School Board and the Library Board minutes and making them available in electronic format.

The Public Relations Department handles the coordination of the many programs presented monthly at the Library. The Public Relations Department is responsible for the development of programs such as concerts, lectures, courses, seminars, computer and internet workshops, art exhibits up to and including preparing the publicity that entices patrons to these events. The Library newsletter, sent to all households in the community, is supplemented with flyers and posters for the programs advertised. All informational materials are produced in house by the staff. The library even has its own artist and illustrator on staff, James Stevenson, pictured here.

The Maintenance Staff, the unsung heroes of any organization, is the group that keeps the library sparkling and the meeting rooms prepared. At all hours of the day and night, the folks from maintenance are always available to make sure the library is ship shape. Monty Stratton heads up the team and schedules all community groups that meet in the library, which numbers about fifty. These groups include the African Atlantic Genealogical Society, A.A., Athena Club, South Shore Audubon Society, Northwest Civic Association, Freeport Hispanic Association, Scandinavian Society, and many more.

Technical Services Department - If you've ever wondered how the thousands of books, video tapes, magazines and the rest get into the library and onto the shelves, that's the monumental job of the Technical Services Department and team member Liz Gifkins, pictured here at her desk, surrounded by books. A few of the men and women you see in the blue shirts are the library monitors, like Thaddeus Ellsworth standing in the lobby, who keep the Library quiet and discreetly keep their eyes on things. The Business Office handles all of the personnel, budget and payroll functions.

• The 280,235 items that were put into circulation were handled by the Circulation Department. 

The Director - Dave Optow is the hands on director of the Freeport Memorial Library. He is responsible for the day to day operations of the library and oversees a diverse staff in a diverse and ever changing community. He walks through the library with a name badge that says "Dave" and never gives a second thought to taking a minute to help a patron or talk with a staff member. He is involved in many community groups and is a Shakespeare aficionado. While at times there are staff members and the public that don't agree with him, there is no one that questions his dedication to the library and the community. The overall consensus of both staff and patrons alike is that, "We are lucky to have Dave."

E. L. Doctorow said that the three most important documents he owned were his drivers license, his passport and his library card. Your Freeport Library Card is your passport to the internet, to the Supreme Court, to other lands, to the world of children, to job counseling, to the arts and to too many more things to mention. It's your best value and the library truly is the jewel of Freeport. 

If you would like to learn more about the Freeport Memorial Library go to http://www.nassaulibrary.org/freeport

FNYN thanks the staff of the library for their help in preparing this story. - ed


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