Astronaut lands book event by a library
The Patchogue-Medford Library’s window display for Mike Massimino, a Long Island Reads book for 2018. Massimino will be honored at the Patchogue Theatre on April 15.

Adv/Leuzzi

Astronaut lands book event by a library

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI
4/9/2018


Twenty-four members of the Long Island Reads committee from Nassau and Suffolk counties all voted unanimously on their 18th selection, Mike Massimino’s “Spaceman.”

That Massimino will be honored at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts at Long Island Reads’ 2018 Selection Award Event and Book Discussion right across the street from Patchogue-Medford Library is a true serendipitous dovetail.

“It’s tricky with location, because we’re a group of librarians and it’s important to have it at libraries, but the problem is that we’ve become really successful and the audiences have outgrown library space,” said Beth Gates, of Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton, a Long Island Reads Suffolk co-chair. “When the Patchogue-Medford Library committee members said, ‘how about the theatre?’ and we were able to work with them at no charge, we really liked that connection. If we can’t have it at the library, it’s nice to have it close by one and also have more people meet him.”

It’s an understatement to say that the Patchogue-Medford Library is beyond excited. Staffers dressed up as space aliens for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Main Street, their window is unabashedly swathed with the space theme, and librarian Michele Cayea did a video for Stargazing on the Patchogue River as a lead-in.

(Talk about being space-ready. Library staffers had their space gear and NASA suits camera-ready for a quick photo op.)

Librarians Laura Accardi and Karen McCahey, the Long Island Reads committee members who pitched the theatre, discussed sending out a staffer dressed in a space suit with promotionals to publicize the event a week before. “We’re raffling off a telescope and the New American Girl doll — who’s an astronaut — at the event,” Accardi said. “Friends of the Patchogue-Medford Library paid for it. We’re also adding a telescope to our lending collection.”

There were big kudos to the Patchogue Theatre.

“They’ve been nothing but swell to us,” Accardi said, “two nonprofits that have each other’s backs.”

That helped, Gates said, because the event is driven by librarians. “There’s no money for it, but we do it because we love what we do,” she said. The event is free.

Library director Danielle Paisley said they’d partnered with the Patchogue Theatre on previous author events. “But this is one of the largest library events and to attract it to our theatre, hopefully visitors will get to know our village better and eat in our restaurants,” she said. (The event is full, but there may be standby seats. For more information, visit longislandreads.org. Massimino’s book will be on sale for purchase and signing at the theatre.)

Janet Schneider, from the Peninsula Public Library in Lawrence and Nassau County co-chair of Long Island Reads, explained the Long Island Reads committee has been in existence for 19 years. It meets 10 times a year and rotates libraries to discuss a list of about six books and their merits by book discussion leaders. Then they make their choice. The premise is “one book, one island,” as a way to spark an island-wide reading initiative with book discussions and related free lectures and events at public libraries across Long Island.

The book is either by a Long Island author or is Long Island-based.

“We’re trying to find the best read,” Schneider said, “the thing that most people will walk away from that they might have missed on first pass. Two years ago we honored Jody Picoult for ‘Leaving Time,’ who grew up in Smithtown. And we picked a book in 2014 called ‘The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island’ by Mac Griswold that revealed slavery on Shelter Island. We look at what kind of topic we can highlight that people can be made aware of.” Last year’s was “Dead Wake” by Eric Larson.

“We all just got behind the book,” Schneider said of the Simon & Schuster U.K. publication. “The author is charming and you’re invested in his story and you’re rooting for him. The thing about his vision, how he trained his eyes, all the stories about his father’s health, it was beautiful. And how he came to his colleagues’ aid and how they came to his. It’s a really nice thing to have in today’s world.”