Love Your Library event kicks off tonight
The South Country Library is kicking off Love Your Library month tonight from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tonight, a solar light will be dedicated to Anthony Gazzola and will be followed by a walking tour of the library, live music and refreshments. All month long, the library will host a series of programs all related to the Love Your Library theme. For more information, call the library at 631-286-0818.

Courtesy photo

Love Your Library event kicks off tonight


This February, fall in love with your local library. All over again, or for the first time, the South Country Library wants you to feel the love all month long. The program is the first-ever month-long celebration called Love Your Library month. The series goes throughout the month and is meant to showcase the variety of programs offered at the library, many of them new services people may not know are available. 

It kicks off tonight, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m. at the South Country Library with a ceremony dedicating a new solar light in honor of Anthony Gazzola, a former library trustee who passed away in 2015. “The solar light is being dedicated to Tony because he was a big proponent of it during his time on the board, because he felt the island and stone pillar at the library entrance was a hazard at nighttime,” said assistant director Patrick O’Leary. “It will hopefully prevent cars from driving into the pillar, which has happened a handful of times.” 

The light will stand with a rock engraved with a dedication to Gazzola, who pushed for the light for years, according to library board president Gino Cruz. “[Tony] was a community guy, a genuine guy,” Cruz said. “When I was thinking about running for the library board, he took me around the neighborhood and he just knew everybody and cared about everything going on in the community,” he added, explaining what an inspiration Gazzola was for him.

He was also a voracious reader, Cruz said, explaining that after Gazzola passed, he brought 100 books spanning all genres back to the library. “He would read anything and everything,” Cruz said. “He loved the library.”

Gazzola’s love of the library got Cruz excited to join the board. Reflecting on his board tenureship, Cruz remembers not having a library card until he got elected. “It blew my mind to see how many services are offered,” he said. “I never knew because I never paid attention.”

He’s hoping that this event will spark that same feeling in others. “I sound like a little kid,” he joked. “But I’m wowed at everything going on. It’s all new to me.”

He is thrilled to see this program take off, developed by O’Leary and library director Kristina Sembler. He originally hoped to see the duo come up with some sort of Valentine’s Day programming. “But they blew it out of the water and created something beautiful,” he said.

Developing the Love your Library event, according to O’Leary, was an easy project. “It ties in the love associated with Valentine’s Day, since we are already decked out with hearts everywhere,” he said. It may sound similar to nationwide celebrations such as national library month held in April or library card registration month in September, but this event is something unique. 

The goal is really to embrace what he called “library regulars,” but also patrons who don’t visit as often. “[Kristina] and I are new, so we have been trying to create a different vibe, trying to get people reacquainted who may have dropped off for whatever reason,” O’Leary said of their new vision and philosophy. 

“One of the goals for our Love Your Library month is to renew our relationship with our community,” said Sembler, “to make our residents aware of how much there is to love about our staff, building and services and to invite them to take full advantage of what we have to offer.”

Tonight’s light dedication will be followed by a walking tour led by O’Leary. “It’s a night to get people reacquainted with the library, people who may be new,” he said. The tour will perimeter the entire building and even delve into nonpublic areas, such as book processing and the server room. “The whole building is supported by public tax money, so this is a nice opportunity for the public to see what exactly their money is funding,” O’Leary said. Tonight’s tour will be accompanied with live music from guitarist Bob Wallen as well as fun refreshments such as popcorn and cotton candy.

After tonight’s kickoff, O’Leary has worked with children’s, teen and adult librarians to develop craft programs, even waiving overdue book fines until Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14.

The former adult reference librarian is most excited to showcase the wealth of technology available to South Country Library patrons. 

In November, square cards were released to allow the library to accept debit and credit card payments. “I think lots of libraries were behind on getting that, including us,” O’Leary admitted, but has noticed it has made life easier, especially when signing up for special workshops or paid programs. They also introduced a streaming app called Hoopla, which is similar to Netflix but requires a library card barcode to sign in. The digital media service allows library patrons to remotely and instantly borrow ebooks, digital movies and music 24/7. “Everyone is asking about it. It has even helped increase card registrations,” O’Leary observed. He noted that the service has older, classic movies, comic books and great music, some of his favorite parts of the app.

Since taking over as assitant director, O’Leary has seen wireless printing installed and an increased use of the 3-D printer. He hopes the programming will help the community find more ways they can put their library card to use and, yes, fall in love with the library.