William Ferro is a new face at the East Meadow Public Library, but the new director has worked in libraries since he was a sophomore at Hewlett High School, starting as a paid page working his way up to director.
Ferro, 49, comes to East Meadow with over 30 years at the Hewlett-Woodmere library, having served as its director for eight years. He grew up in the Gibson section of Valley Stream, and never left. He met his wife, Maryann, at the library, and she is the assistant director of the Levittown Public Library. The two have three children who have gone through or are currently in Hewlett-Woodmere schools.
“I spent my whole career there,” Ferro said. “I was in the community, I lived in the community, I went to school in the community, I was raising my family there.
“That’s also potentially one of the reasons why I wound up here: I was there for a long time, and while I’m still young, I felt like it was time for a change. I want to take on new responsibilities and new challenges.”
The board chose Ferro in October to take over for longtime director Carol Probeyahn. He officially started on Dec. 1.
“East Meadow library is one of the co-central libraries in Nassau County,” Ferro said. “If I was ever going to go anywhere, this was at the top of my list.”
He got his start as a page at the Hewlett-Woodmere library at 16 be-cause his mother, who was studying for her master’s in English literature at the time, was always at the library.
“She was tired of her 16-year-old son sitting on the sofa playing video games between jobs,” Ferro joked. “So that’s kind of what got me off the sofa, and I went in and the job seemed interesting, and it paid fairly well for the time, so I was, like, yeah, sure, I’ll take the job.”
Ferro learned that he really enjoyed the job, especially the people. “I think that developed one of my curiosities. I love helping people and I love answering questions,” he said. “I enjoyed the day-to-day of people just coming in and saying, you know, can you tell me why this happened or where this originated?”
When it came time for college, Ferro originally wanted to be a physical education teacher, and went to Queens College, but once the curriculum focused more on the sciences, Ferro said he was too squeamish to go on. He switched to a history major, and graduated with a degree in American history. He completed his graduate degree at Queens College in library science.
“I was already working in the library, so libraries were kind of already in my blood, whether I knew it at that point in my life or not,” he said. “I had a lot of people that I worked with that encouraged me to go for library science and I’m grateful for that.”
His first couple of days at the East Meadow library were overwhelming, Ferro admitted.
“Just getting to know the layout of the building, and meeting all of the staff,” he said. “It was unique to this situation. Just people from the community heard that there was going to be a new director, and they would just come in and introduce themselves to me, it was wonderful.”
Jude Schanzer, the director of public relations and programming for the library, said she finds Ferro to be very smart and open to new ideas.
“He always just oozes kindness,” Schanzer said. “It’s unknown when there’s a new director…for me, considering what my job is here, whether the new director will be supportive of new ideas, and he seems really supportive.”
Ferro said that he was excited to really get into working at the EMPL. “The building is beautiful, it’s all brand new,” he said. “We will be meeting with the community to get a sense of what they would like to see, and anything they would like to change.”