From indoor golf to cotton candy, the West Hempstead Public Library had a special day lined up to celebrate its 50th anniversary last Sunday. Members of the West Hempstead Historical Society, the Fire Department and the Nassau County Auxiliary Police Fifth Precinct Unit joined the library for its afternoon of fun.
“The weather is amazing, and we had an incredible turnout,” said Regina Mascia, the library’s director. “There’s so many activities and programs that we’re doing at this point, and I’ve been here for a long time to see its growth.”
Mascia has worked at the library since 1978 when she was a student at West Hempstead High School, starting as a page. “I remember when we only had one big room,” she said. “Now we have an entire building to ourselves. It makes me so proud that we have this venue to provide our services to the people of West Hempstead.”
“From the efforts of the Lions Club to the efforts of our directors, this library has grown so much over the years,” said Lesley McAvoy, vice president of the Historical Society. “It’s just wonderful to see how far the library has come and how it’s been a part of our community for so long.”
Featuring books and programs for both children and adults, Mascia said, the library caters to people of all ages. “We have our usual group of people who come here just to grab the paper in the morning and hang out,” she said. “But we also have kids who come here after school to do homework together.”
She added that libraries are becoming community centers for residents. “Since we don’t have our own community center in West Hempstead,” Mascia said, “we try to provide a place where people can have access to our online database.”
Modernizing the library, she said, has been one of her biggest priorities. One program, which she said is featured in only a few libraries in Nassau County, is Hoopla Digital, an app that allows patrons to download movies, graphic novels, e-books and magazines.
“We always try stay on top of what’s new, what’s up and coming,” Mascia said, “and go to workshops to make sure we know what’s up and coming.”
Moving forward, she explained, she would like to implement more outreach programs to increase the library’s involvement in the community. She would also like to provide more STEM programs. “Not just for kids, but for adults as well,” she said. “I really want to create a connection where teens are working with older people to provide training for them.”
Mascia said that the library currently ranks 14th in circulation in Nassau County, and that she is confident that it will continue its public service.
“In 2000, experts said that books were going to go away and libraries would no longer be relevant,” she said. “We still circulate over 200,000 items each year, so we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.”