On Feb. 9, alongside local library directors, Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin announced that the town has approved more than $340,000 in grants to support several public libraries within the township (see box). The allocation was made possible by funding through the federal CARES Act, which was secured by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer last year.
Each library will receive a more than $20,000 grant to help pay for unbudgeted expenses incurred during the pandemic. Clavin said the funding will also allow these institutions to continue to provide essential programs and services to their communities.
“They might have lost some sort of benefit they’d given the community,” he explained. “No one in our town was spared from the impacts of this pandemic and the financial toll it has taken, [and] we are proud to be able to provide this funding to our neighborhood libraries so they can continue serving the residents of Hempstead Town.”
Most libraries have continued to offer a full complement of services throughout the pandemic with Covid-19 safety measures in place. These include high-grade Plexiglas shields for circulation and reference desks, personal protective equipment for staff, daily sanitizing procedures, UV-lighting to disinfect books and printed materials and reconfiguration of library spaces to maintain social distancing.
The announcement came from outside the Levittown Public Library on Feb. 10. Levittown Library Trustee Steve Dalton commended town officials for their support. “There are two broad purposes for this money,” he said. “It’s one, to make in-person library use safer for our patrons and our staff, and two, to expand digital and virtual access to library materials.”
Digital and virtual access includes lending hotspot devices and installing Wi-Fi routers and boosters so patrons can access the library’s Wi-Fi during off hours.
Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby pointed out that the libraries could also use the funds to keep developing virtual literacy programs, which are increasing children’s skills with computer programs like Zoom and strengthening their adjustment to remote learning.
Town Councilman Christopher Carini recalled fond memories of leading civic association meetings at the Seaford Public Library, further proving their importance.
Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito regarded the institutions as “a central location for meetings” that have the ability to bring community members together. “No one could have anticipated the impact that Covid-19 would have on libraries and so many other aspects of our daily lives,” he said, “and these relief funds will go a long way to helping them get back on their feet.”