West Hempstead Public Library Director Regina Mascia was a clerk at the library’s previous location on Chestnut Street at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. She remembers getting a phone call from a friend about the attacks, so she went online to try to figure out what was happening.
“I couldn’t even get on the internet because there were so many people online at the time,” Mascia recalled. “The next thing I remembered was hearing all the fire engines speeding down Hempstead Turnpike. You could hear those sirens all throughout the community.”
With the memories of 9/11 still fresh in her mind, Mascia sought ways that the library could educate people about that day. The library is taking part in a month-long educational exhibition called “September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World.” The exhibition, presented by the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, features the personal stories of those who witnessed and survived the attacks. With 14 posters, it includes archival photographs and images of artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection.
“I thought that, considering the significance of this 20th anniversary, it was important for us to participate,” Mascia said. “We felt the need to offer this to residents so they could learn about the history of 9/11.”
A member of the American Library Association, Mascia said she found out about the exhibition through the association. The 9/11 Museum, in Lower Manhattan, sent the West Hempstead library its photos for free, and the librarians framed them. The posters now line the lower level of the library. The library took members on a bus trip to the museum a few years ago, Mascia said, and she was in awe of the display.
“It’s a very emotional place,” she said. “They gave us about two and a half hours, which just wasn’t enough time, because there’s so much history to explore.”
The museum’s poster exhibition was made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency that supports research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities. The museum noted that any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the exhibition do not necessarily reflect those of the NEH.
“During this 20th anniversary year, it is our privilege to share these lessons with a new generation,” 9/11 Memorial & Museum President Alice Greenwald stated in a news release. “We look forward to teaching them about the ongoing repercussions of the 9/11 attacks and inspire them with the idea that, even in the darkest of times, we can come together, support one another and find the strength to renew and rebuild.”
“I can’t still can’t believe it’s been 20 years,” Mascia said. “We wanted to acknowledge this day in some way, so we’re hoping that people will come down and see it.”
The exhibit is open seven days a week. Masks are required.