Katina Csillag discovers family lineage through city library


Katina Csillag is the new president of Friends of the Glen Cove Public Library, replacing longtime enthusiast Carol Rubin. Although libraries are known for providing free access to education, news and historical resources, they also keep the public informed with facts. In Csillag’s case, an investigation at the Glen Cove library gave her a better understanding of her family’s lineage.
The 50-year-old is a transplant from Minerva, a small town in the upstate Adirondacks. Csillag grew up as the only child of a single teenage mother. There were a few in her community who thought she would be a bad influence on youth because of her nontraditional upbringing, but she excelled in academics and extracurriculars. She was a member of her school’s volleyball and cheerleading teams and was active in student government. By the time she graduated, she received an outpouring of support from fellow students and administration, wishing her luck on her post-graduation journey.
Csillag earned a degree in English and elementary education from SUNY Potsdam in 1995, after which she went to work with students with disabilities in an inclusion classroom setting in White Plains. After she gave birth to a daughter, Caitlin, some years later, she became a full-time stay-at-home mother.
Her daughter broke her femur when she was in fourth grade, and since the school didn’t have an elevator to the second-floor classrooms, Csillag and her husband turned to home schooling. They realized their daughter excelled academically when she worked independently and outside the classroom.
Csillag and her husband, who worked in Manhattan, were led to Glen Cove by their daughter five years ago, when she was accepted at LIU Post to study library science. When Csillag moved to the city, she researched places where she could volunteer. When she found the library’s website, she joined the Friends of the Library.

In March 2022, Csillag joined the library’s genealogy club, and was fascinated by a discussion on DNA testing. She had always wanted to research her family history, but hesitated, uncertain about what she might find. She had a loving husband and close relationships with her mother and daughter, but always felt a piece of her unknown family history lurking.
With support and guidance from other members of the club, Csillag took a DNA test last November, and on Dec. 23, she was notified that her results were ready. She logged into FamilySearch, a website used for genealogy research at the library her hands shaking in anticipation.
At first she didn’t recognize the photo of her first match, but eventually she realized that it was someone she had never met, but knew by name: her father. Csillag was aware that he had had two children with his first wife, but she had never met them.
She then contacted someone whom she assumed to be a cousin, and asked him only for medical information. Instead, she discovered that he was her half-brother and had also been raised by a single teenage mother whom his father had been involved with. After a month on the site, the two siblings discovered another, younger brother who messaged them after he found their deceased father’s username and password.
The five siblings met for the first time in June in the Adirondacks. In August, the siblings and their families met.
Cisllag credits Lydia Wen, the library’s archivist and librarian, with helping her make her amazing discovery.
The Friends are a nonprofit organization established in 1970. They are the liaison between the library and the community, serving preschoolers to retirees. The group is dedicated to supporting the activities and mission of the library, and was created to be its fundraising arm.
Csillag became president in May because Rubin, who is 101, was ready to step down. Board members of the organization saw that Csillag was vocal in their meetings and drew on her past experience as an educator, Girl Scout troop leader for her daughter, and her past volunteerism for insight.
“The library should be the center of our community, because it offers the ability to bring together all of us, no matter our socio-economic backgrounds, education, etcetera,” Csillag said. “They improve our lives in ways that you may not even think about on a day-to-day basis.”