A small group of Great Neck residents gathered before the Great Neck Library Board of Trustees to express concerns about the newly renovated Main Branch. The meeting, which took place at the Parkville Branch on Monday, Dec. 19, was preceded by a moment of silence in honor of Lakeville Branch Head Librarian Ruth Klement, who had died five days earlier (read “Remembering Lakeville Branch Head Librarian Ruth Klement“).
“At the last branch meeting, she was very enthusiastic,” said board member Michael Fuller. “Lakeville benefited tremendously. The programs, the functions, she was very enthusiastic about those. So she will be missed.”
Following the renovations to the Main Branch, several Great Neck “mommies” had compiled a list of grievances claiming that, among other things, the library was no longer a suitable place for children due to the presence of an automatic door. Several parents worried that the door would allow their children to roam the outside parking lot, which is located near a pond.
“The first is this issue with this [automatic] door that is in the middle of the children’s room and it cannot be,” said Kate Goldberg, who was there on behalf of several of the other mommies. “Many people want to use it because with a stroller it is easier to come through. So, I guess the automatic should be shut down and we need a push button.”
The board said that the door issue was already being resolved and that it was important for parents to take extra care with their kids.
“I’m not accusing all mommies of this, but it seems that there are some people who view the library as a sort of a babysitter,” Fuller said. “The kids cannot be left unattended,” he continued. “Whatever they’re doing, there has to be a parent nearby. Nothing we do, no program that we provide is a substitute for having a parent available in that room at all times.”
There were also concerns about space issues for the library’s children’s programs, particularly the holiday programs. The board noted that the library would be looking to increase its number of holiday programs in the future, but Goldberg still questioned why popular programs were held in the smaller rooms of the library as opposed to the community room, which is larger.
“I came five hours after the [tickets went on sale] and two places, because they were so small, were already gone. If there’s a space issue two months after the renovation of the library, what have we done?” asked Goldberg.
“If it’s a popular program, it needs to go into the larger space. The community room [still] has to be wired,” Board President Marietta DiCamillo explained, adding that the room should be ready sometime in January. “Once the community room gets established, that’s the room it has to be in.”
Board member Robert Schaufeld added, “One of the reasons that we have preregistration for programs is so that we can anticipate how many people are coming and we can accommodate them with our facilities. We have the space available and if we know that there’s a tremendous demand for a program, we can move it into a larger space.”
Other residents claimed that the library had eliminated several toys and sculptures from the library after the renovation. While several board members acknowledged that some of the items from the old library were not on display, they clarified that the items had not been disposed of and would eventually be restored. DiCamillo, in asking residents to be patient, offered this analogy:
“This is comparable to moving into a new house and having boxes that get put in some strange room somewhere,” she said. “We’re going to get there.”
Read “Parents Concerned Over Library Renovations,” and these readers’ letters “How Residents, Taxpayers And Families Feel About Library Renovation” and “Library Concerns Not Taken Seriously.”